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6/18/2015 Senate passes Lynch’s wetlands standards legislation
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today passed Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Erin P. Lynch’s legislation that establishes state standards for freshwater buffers and setbacks within Rhode Island’s wetlands. 

The legislation (2015-S 0737A) will streamline permitting processes and address gaps in wetland protections.  The bill requires the establishment of a single set of state standards for freshwater wetland buffers and setbacks.  The new requirements will be specified through state agency rulemaking.  The legislation also strengthens wetland protections by increasing the authority of state agencies through the designation of jurisdictional areas around protected wetlands.  It also requires the sharing of information by state agencies with municipalities and other entities and provides an opportunity for input from municipalities.

“These standards are good for residents, they are good for businesses and they are good for the environment,” said Senator Lynch (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston).  “The task force that was formed two years ago delivered excellent recommendations on how Rhode Island can be streamlined and efficient for our businesses and residents while also protecting our glorious natural resources within the state.”

The standards will be promulgated by the Department of Environmental Management and the Coastal Resources Management Council and resulted from 2013 legislation, also sponsored by Senator Lynch, which established a task force to form a uniform set of standards for all residents and businesses of the state.

The legislation was strongly supported by the Small Business Administration, the Rhode Island Builders Association, Save the Bay and the Audubon Society. 

House Environment and Natural Resources Chairman Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston) sponsored companion legislation (2015-H 5962) which is currently in the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903