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Sen. Whitehouse, Emerald Cities Providence Participate in Rhode Island Energy and Environmental Leaders Day

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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.Is.) recently hosted EC Providence Director Brigid Ryan and more than 200 others to hear experts on climate change at Rhode Island Energy and Environmental Leaders Day, an annual event that also showcases the state’s leading energy and environmental organizations.

Attendees first heard impassioned words from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who made it clear that pollution and climate change are a direct threat to the health of U.S. communities. She emphasized her support for President Obama’s efforts to establish stronger curbs on carbon emissions from existing power plants, stating, “EPA’s job is to protect those who are most vulnerable from this pollution, so it is our job to take action on climate.  Period.  Full stop.”

High-Road Jobs in Energy Sector
Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources Commissioner Marion Gold, who is a member of the EC Providence Local Council, moderated a panel on emerging economic opportunities in the Rhode Island renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. During the ensuing discussion, EC Providence Director brought to the forefront the need to engage all sectors of the community in resiliency planning, as well as to continue bringing high-wage, meaningful jobs and environmental justice to Providence’s low-income residents. 

Another keynoter was renowned marine scientist, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and eco-activist Sylvia Earle, whose work to save the planet’s oceans – which she describes as the “cornerstone of our human life-support system” – is the focus of a recent documentary film “Mission Blue.”

The group also heard insightful words from Rolling Stone Magazine reporter Jeff Goodell, who has spent much of his last 15 years reporting on the energy industry, the changing climate and the fossil fuel industry, from the coal mining towns of Appalachia to China.  

Context and Inspiration
After attendees heard from those speakers who presented a wider context and inspiration for their own work in Rhode Island, panels and discussions focused on a variety of topics from the potential effects of rising tides on Rhode Island’s shoreline to the “economic generator” effect of energy efficiency.

To further highlight and coordinate energy and environmental initiatives throughout the state, Whitehouse hosted a post-discussion Leaders Showcase highlighting emerging economic opportunities and innovative products and programs from across the state.

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