The Scoop: Chafee’s Push for Green Cars, Big Grants for RI; More
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Chafee Joins Governors Coalition to Spur Growth of Zero-Emission Vehicles
Governor Lincoln Chafee would like to see Rhode Island’s roads heavily populated with zero-emissions vehicles come 2025. Chafee, along with governors from seven states, today announced a groundbreaking initiative to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the roads in their states within a dozen years.
"Rhode Island has already started taking steps and one includes the installation of charging stations throughout the state. We are determined to develop a clean and efficient transportation infrastructure for the future," Chafee said. "Through the Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding, we have created a vital partnership that will reduce our reliance on imported oil, boost our economy, and save money at the pump. This is an important collaboration that works toward the common goal of protecting our environment."
Clearing a path
This multi-state effort is intended to expand consumer awareness and demand for zero-emission vehicles. As a first step in this plan, the governors of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont signed a cooperative agreement. In this agreement, the governors identify specific actions they will promote within their states and joint cooperative actions these states will undertake to help build a robust national market for electric and hydrogen-powered cars.
The governors agreed to pursue the following efforts:
- Harmonize building codes to make it easier to construct new electric car charging stations
- Lead by example by including zero emission vehicles in their public fleets
- Evaluate and establish, where appropriate, financial and other incentives to promote zero emission vehicles
- Consider establishing favorable electricity rates for home charging systems; and
- Develop common standards for roadway signs and charging networks.
Creating a market
These states are among a group of states which have adopted rules requiring about 15 percent of new vehicles sold to be zero-emission vehicles by 2025. Collectively, the eight signatory states represent more than 23 percent of the U.S. car market, and expect to have at least 3.3 million of these vehicles operating on their roadways by that time.
Cars are already here
U.S. electric car sales in 2012 more than tripled to about 52,000 from 17,000 in 2011. Motorists bought more than 40,000 plug-in cars in the first and second quarters of 2013.
There are currently 16 zero-emission vehicle models available from eight automotive manufacturers; nine run completely on batteries, two on hydrogen fuel cells and five are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that can run on gasoline as well as battery power. The number of models is expected to increase for model year 2014 and beyond. Several electric vehicle models have won awards for safety, performance and customer satisfaction over the past couple of years.
There are already more than 6,700 charging stations open to the public in the signatory states. By 2015 nearly every major automaker will have zero emission vehicles available for sale or lease, and more than 200,000 zero-emission vehicles are expected to be on the road across the U.S.
Promoting a healthier environment and economy
According to the governors coalition, these clean vehicles will provide a major foothold in the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their consequences, which include sea level rise, increases in extreme weather, and wildfire intensity.
There are economic advantages as well. Electricity is the most widely available source of power and typically costs about two-thirds less than gasoline on a per-mile basis. By 2025, the average zero-emission vehicle driver will save nearly $6,000 in fueling costs over the life of the car.
RI's zero-emissions standards
Although all new vehicles for sale in the United States are certified to meet either Federal emission standards, set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Rhode Island has adopted the stricter California Low Emission Vehicle II (LEV-2) emission standards for new vehicles sold in the state in 2004. Rhode Island is one thirteen states to adopt California's vehicle emissions standards. For more information about California's zero emissions program visit: http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/zevprog/zevprog.htm
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Hurricane Sandy Funding
Rhode Island to receive over $6 million in Interior funds for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Approaching the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior & Environment, today announced that Rhode Island will receive an additional $6 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior for restoration projects and to help prepare for future storms. The funds may be used for a variety of projects, including restoring marshes, wetlands and beaches, rebuilding shorelines, and researching and modeling mitigation of storm surge impacts.
The funds are part of a new $162 million investment the Interior Department is making in 45 restoration and research projects up and down the Atlantic Coast.
Reed noted this funding comes on top of $4.488 million in Interior funding Rhode Island received earlier this year for restoration, repairs, and preservation activities related to the storm damage, bringing the state’s estimated total to nearly $10.5 million to help clean up public lands and wildlife refuge areas.
“I appreciate Secretary Jewell’s commitment to helping Rhode Island recover and improve the resiliency of our coastal areas. These federal funds will help Rhode Island repair and rebuild areas impacted by Sandy. Sandy took a heavy economic and environmental toll on our coastline and these funds will help reduce vulnerabilities to future damage,” said Reed, who led the effort to secure this funding as part of the Sandy relief Appropriations bill.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which oversees the National Wildlife Refuge system, will work with a coalition of partners on various restoration projects, including the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC), and the Army Corp Engineers.
A network of non-profit groups that assist with environmental monitoring and habitat restoration will also be part of the effort, including: The Nature Conservancy, Narragansett Bay Estuarine Reserve, The Norman Bird Sanctuary, the Wood Pawcatuck Watershed Association, the University of Rhode Island, Save the Bay, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, and Ducks Unlimited.
To date, Reed has helped direct more than $45.4 million in support from federal disaster relief programs to help Rhode Island recover from Sandy, and the Senator expects more help will soon be on the way.
“It’s been a year since the storm hit and while we’ve made real progress, we’ve got to keep at it. Recovery from the storm is still a priority and more Sandy relief for Rhode Island should be coming down the road,” said Reed.
Overall, the Superstorm Sandy Supplemental Appropriations bill included $60.4 billion in federal aid to help homeowners, business, and communities recover, and resources to rebuild coastal, transportation, and clean water infrastructure.
Fighting Gang Violence
Providence receives Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant to help prevent gang violence and gun crimes.
Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse joined Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, and other leading state and local law enforcement officials to announce $150,000 in federal funding that is being awarded to the City of Providence from the Project Safe Neighborhoods Program to help reduce gun and gang violence.
The federal grant will support an innovative partnership led by the Providence Police Department (PPD) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the “Street Workers” from the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, the Rhode Island State Police, and the Roger Williams University School of Justice Studies that will enhance the PPD’s ability to focus on violent gang and gun crime reduction initiatives. Funding will be used to increase targeted enforcement patrols and identify “impact players” that are driving violence in high-crime neighborhoods. A portion of the funding will also be aimed at gathering and analyzing data on anti-crime and violence programs, and evaluating strategies and best practices.
Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice to reduce gun crime by networking existing local programs that target gun violence, and providing those programs with the additional tools necessary to be successful. This year, Providence was one of 16 communities across the country to receive Project Safe Neighborhoods funds.
“Our outstanding police officers, law enforcement officials, and prosecutors are on the frontlines every day trying to make our community safer. This Project Safe Neighborhoods grant is designed to provide them some additional backup. We can always do more to combat gun violence, but this strategic approach to targeting gun crime and gang activity by linking together local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, resources, and community partners is a welcome step,” said Senator Reed.
“We must work together at the state, local, and federal levels to ensure that our cities and neighborhoods are safe for Rhode Island families. I'm pleased to announce this $150,000 federal grant, which will help the Rhode Island Department of Public Safety and its partners reduce gun and gang violence in Providence, and will help protect the safety of Providence residents,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.
“This Project Safe Neighborhoods grant will enhance the Providence Police Department's community policing efforts and its strong partnership with Providence's esteemed Nonviolence Institute,” said Mayor Taveras. “I thank Senators Reed and Whitehouse for securing this federal grant and for their tireless efforts on behalf of Providence, and I commend the Providence police and our partners in law enforcement for their ongoing efforts to serve and protect neighborhoods across our city.”
This year, Providence was one of only 16 communities across the country to receive Project Safe Neighborhoods funds.
Lack of Transparency
RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity questions lack of transparency in SEIU unionization election.
The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity is questioning the transparency of the plan that they argue could have significant consequences for taxpayers; namely the process to unionize home childcare providers, which culminates with an election in the next week about whether home child care providers will accept exclusive representation by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The Center challenges the State Labor Relations Board (SLRB) and the SEIU to provide additional information to the public.
The Center maintains that the SLRB has refused to release information about the card signature process; has refused to consider multiple petitions from the Center; and refuses to provide any information to indicate that the upcoming voting process will be fair, transparent, or fraud-free with regard to voter validation, intimidation, and public access.
According to the Center, there have been allegations of SEIU fraud and intimidation tactics over similar schemes in other states yet there are no publicly known safeguards in place here in Rhode Island. In Rhode Island, multiple providers have privately confided with the Center that SEIU representatives have lied to them when knocking on their doors to promote unionization.
“There is real fear and frustration out there. Despite repeated requests from our Center, the silence from the SLRB has been deafening. If the SEIU and the SLRB are so convinced that they are conducting a fair process, why are they afraid of a little sunlight”, inquired Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “There has been no information about how the SLRB plans to ensure that voters will not be intimidated or deprived of free-choice in this election. We challenge them to publicly discuss these matters in order to ensure taxpayers and providers that an open and honest election will take place”.
According to the Center, the SLRB has refused to acknowledge that recent U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Appeals Court actions, which raise the distinct possibility that similar schemes may be unconstitutional, should have any bearing on its plans to forge ahead with a vote, despite the legal and financial morass the election could create.
The Center argues that the secrecy began when the SEIU claimed it collected signed cards from 80% of the providers, allegedly indicating that they were in favor of unionization, and submitted those cards to the SLRB in order to begin the election process.
Next, the Center formally petitioned the SLRB three times to amend the election process to conform with precedents in other states and very recent federal court actions, specifically requesting:
- a ballot language change that more accurately reflected the decision providers must make, as has been worded on other state ballots;
- an open legal response and analysis to a September federal appeals court ruling blocking an almost identical election in Minnesota;
- to postpone the election until after the U.S. Supreme Court, in October, agreed to hear an Illinois case that may provide legal precedent to the RI process
In all three cases, the petitions were denied, because the SLRB claimed that the Center has no standing to make petitions, because they represent the taxpayer.
The Center maintains that since 2004, when the SLRB unilaterally attempted to designate independent child home care providers as state employees for the purpose of unionization, only to be struck down in 2005 in a RI Superior Court ruling.
Honoring Our Veterans
Sen. Reed presents Combat Action Ribbon to 92-year-old WWII veteran.
Earlier today, U.S.Senator JackReed presented the Combat Action Ribbon to Mr. John Gambuto of Johnston for his service in the United States Coast Guard during World War II. Mr. Gambuto served as Seaman First Class aboard the USS Menges, a destroyer that escorted cargo and troop ships to North Africa. The award was presented to Mr. Gambuto at the Bridge Assisted Living facility in Johnston.
In addition to the Combat Action Ribbon, Mr. Gambuto received the Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 1 Bronze Star Attachment, the Word War II Victory Medal, the Honorable Discharge Pin, and the Honorable Service Lapel Pin.
The citation reads: “Attention to orders: the following award is announced the ‘Combat Action Ribbon’ is awarded to Mr. John Gambuto for exemplary behavior, efficiency and fidelity while on active duty during World War II. Mr. Gambuto’s service was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard and reflects great credit upon himself and the United States of America.”
Voter Information Events
Mollis announces new voter registration and voter ID dates/locations.
The Office of Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis has announced the following dates, times and places of Voter Registration and Voter ID drives:
Voter Registration Events
- Wednesday - November 6th at Shea High School in Pawtucket (11:30am to 1:30pm).
- Thursday - November 7th at Shea High School in Pawtucket (11:30am to 1:30pm).
- Wednesday - November 20th at Tolman High School in Pawtucket (11:30am to 1:30pm).
Voter ID Events
- Saturday - October 26th at Family Topic Conference at the Juanita Sanchez Complex, Providence (8:00am to 11:00am) (not a public event).
- Tuesday - October 29th at Central Falls City Hall (4:30pm to 6:30pm).
- Friday - November 1 at Charles Gate East, Providence (10:00am to 12:00pm (not a public event).
- Sunday - November 3rd at RIYP Empowerment Day, Providence (10:30am to 1:30pm).
Speaking Engagement and Voter Education
- Thursday – November 7th at Pilgrim High School (10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.).
Libertarian Party of Rhode Island presents Liberty Drinks.
With the upcoming 2014 political season set to kick off in just a few months, WARL 1320 A.M. radio host Tony Jones will host the upcoming “Liberty Drinks” networking night on Friday, Nov. 1 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Manchester 65 in West Warwick. The event is designed to provide networking opportunities for libertarians, voluntarists, anarcho-capitalists and liberty movement-minded individuals. This free event is open to all members of the public—regardless of age.
Here’s who’s represented so far:
- The Coalition - Talk Radio
- RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity
- Libertarian Party of Rhode Island
- Spirits of '76 National Non-Profit Organization
- Common Sense Anarchy 21
- Providence Nightout
- Maciel For Congress
- The Blood Drive Co-op
- Manchester 65
- Ten Thousand Villages-Cranston
- GX RadioActive/Todd Giroux for Gov.
- Students For Liberty
- RI Free Radio
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