By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI.org News staff
The stalemate over the East Bay Energy Consortium (EBEC) continues.
On June 6, the House Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources received a letter from Gov. Lincoln Chafee stating his disapproval for the bill that would put the regional renewable energy collaborative under the control of the Economic Development Corporation (EDC). The bill was subsequently overhauled, replacing language to create EBEC as a public-private entity with a study commission. The House committee then voted the proposal held for further study.
The Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources received the same letter from Chafee. Unlike the House committee, however, the Senate committee at its June 6 meeting did not alter the bill to create a study commission. The committee voted instead to hold bill until another hearing.
Chafee said prior to last week's meeting that in light of the 38 Studios debacle he wants more time for all parties to review the EBEC proposal to "protect the taxpayer."
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Louis DiPalma, D-Little Compton/Middletown/Newport/Tiverton, insisted that none of the liability to fiance a proposed wind farm would fall on the state, municipalities or taxpayers. A review, he said, would only lead to the same conclusion. "I am not certain what a study commission would do to change the bill," he said.
Opponents of the EBEC initially saw the House committee's action as a victory, but became wary when the Senate didn't follow suit. "Why aren't we talking about the politics of this thing when the towns don't even want it?" asked Lisa Blais of Ocean State Tea Party in Action.
The Republican-leaning political group of seven activists generally oppose public support for renewable energy projects. "We don't believe the government should be in the business of what private industry can do," she said. "It's always screwed up. Just look at 38 Studios."
Both bills are expected to have another hearing before the state legislature wraps up for the year. Most legislators expect the session to end before June 15.
Complete streets. A bill requiring the state Department of Transportation to include pedestrians, bicyclists and bus riders in its road projects passed a House committee June 6 and passed the Senate Feb. 28.
Petroleum Savings Institute. Both the Senate and the House passed a bill (pdf) that establishes a Petroleum Savings Institute. The committee will seek ways to reduce fossil-fuel use, increase renewable fuels and improve walking, biking and public transit.
Zoning standards. The state Department of Environmental Managment (DEM) and the state Department of Health must first review zoning standards municipalities create for on-site sewage systems and wetlands setbacks in a bill (pdf) passed in the House and Senate on June 6.
Paint disposal. The Senate passed a bill (pdf) creating disposals for unused paint at paint stores. The program would be funded through a fee on purchases.
Paper and packaging. The Senate votes June 11 and the House votes June 12 on a product stewardship bill (pdf) that forms a commission study paper and packaging.