Colin Durrant, CLF Director of Communications
Providence, RI (January 31, 2008) – Save the Bay, together with CLF and ECRI, today submitted a Supreme Court brief arguing that the Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC) is subject to the 2004 Separation of Powers Amendment and that “separating governmental power over CRMC, with traditional checks and balances, is the best way for the vital environmental interests of the State and its citizens to be protected.”
The court is preparing to issue an advisory opinion for the House of Representatives on the Separation of Powers Amendment and its implications for the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC).The court has asked parties with an interest in the advisory opinion to file briefs by Thursday, January 31st with a second round of response briefs on March 1st.
“Our hope is that the ruling by the Court will finally end four years in limbo for the CRMC – four years which have left CRMC hobbled by vacancies and internal divisions and vulnerable to legal challenge.” said Curt Spalding, Executive Director of Save the Bay.
The brief points out that “Rhode Island’s coastal lands and waters are its most valuable public trust resource. They are critical to the environmental quality, character and beauty of Rhode Island, and are the heritage of every citizen of this state. There has long been, and will long continue to be, conflicts over how these resources should be managed and protected, as well as intense pressure to compromise the environmental integrity of the coast and its waters and waterways, and the public’s access to them, in favor of private interests.
“An independent and accountable CRMC is the only way we can deliver to the public a vibrant and healthy coastline that supports recreation, wildlife and a local sustainable economy,” said Cynthia Giles, director of CLF’s Rhode Island Advocacy Center.
CRMC is at the intersection where these competing interests converge over the future of Rhode Island’s most valuable treasure, and it is responsible for the policies that will protect it.
“The performance of this critical agency affects all Rhode Islanders,” said Matt Auten, president of the Environment Council of Rhode Island.
CRMC decides what gets built near our 400 miles of coastline, and what does not. CRMC decides how to balance competing public and private interests in the use of both Rhode Island’s shoreline and its coastal waters, deciding when to uphold regulations designed to protect water quality, wetlands habitat and other essential environmentally important public interests, and when to grant variances that dispense with those protections. CRMC decides whether alternative energy resources can be constructed in our state’s waters and whether and how the state will anticipate and avoid the worst effects of the already occurring and inevitably increasing rise of the sea resulting from global climate change. In short, the CRMC is empowered to make decisions affecting many millions, if not billions, of dollars; decisions concerning the quality and character of Narragansett Bay; Rhode Island’s response to the challenge of climate change; and many other choices that will affect the entire state for generations to come.”
About Save The Bay
Founded in 1970, Save The Bay is a non-profit organization working to protect, restore and explore Narragansett Bay and its watershed. Save The Bay believes the Bay’s future depends on tomorrow’s leaders understanding how important the Bay is to our economy, environment and quality of life. The organization offers education programs to schools, community groups and the general public; protects Narragansett Bay by advocating for Bay-friendly legislation, reviewing permits and raising public awareness; and restores the Bay to full health through its extensive habitat restoration program.
About the Conservation Law Foundation
The Conservation Law Foundation (www.clf.org) works to solve the most significant environmental challenges facing New England. CLF’s advocates use law, economics and science to create innovate strategies to conserve natural resources, protect public health and promote vital communities in our region. Founded, in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
The Environment Council of Rhode Island, founded in 1972, is a non-profit organization which develops, advocates and lobbies for policies and laws which protect the environment. ECRI consists of approximately 60 member organizations.