By Asher Lehrer-Small, posted by EcoRI on April 24, 2018
When wealthy Newport, R.I., merchant Francis Malbone built the Malbone House in 1760, the ocean was his source of fortune. Now, it threatens the historic inn’s very existence.
“Every year we have very serious wind storms, blizzards and possible hurricanes,” said Will Dewey, proprietor of the Francis Malbone House Historic Inn. “Insurance rates are skyrocketing and we are a small business.”
The Malbone House isn’t the only Ocean State business struggling with stormy waters and high winds. Sea-level rise and warming ocean temperatures threaten tourism in Newport and across the state, according to Dewey and concerned others.
Yet, rising waters along Rhode Island’s vulnerable coast haven’t led to rising urgency at the Statehouse, according to Rep. Aaron Regunberg, D-Providence. In every legislative session since 2015, Regunberg has introduced carbon-pricing legislation to curb Rhode Island’s fossil-fuel use. But each year, the legislation has failed to go to a vote on the House floor.
“For anyone who is a scientist or a parent, this moment in history is particularly scary,” said Justin Boyan, a father, Providence resident, former NASA research scientist and Senior Engineer at Google. “If you’re a scientist you understand the physics of the huge, global climate disaster which is just starting to unfold. And if you are a parent, you look everyday into the eyes off the children who will bear the brunt of that disaster.”
Boyan was speaking at State House event announcing the introduction of new carbon pricing legislation. Representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Providence) and Senator Jeanine Calkin (Democrat, District 30, Warwick) with the support of a large number of environmental and climate activists, announced the Energize Rhode Island: Economic and Climate Resilience Act of 2018, legislation designed “to charge fossil fuel sellers for the carbon pollution their products cause, and invest the money in the state’s clean energy and green business sector as well as rebates sent directly to energy consumers.”