Lawmakers Review Agency Charged With Coastal Regulation

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A legislative commission is looking at ways to reorganize Rhode Island's lead agency for reviewing offshore wind projects and other coastal development proposals.

House Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, a Jamestown Democrat, will lead the 15-member House commission to study the Coastal Resources Management Council, the General Assembly said Friday.

Ruggiero sponsored legislation that created the commission to provide recommendations for reorganizing the council by April 1.

The nation’s first offshore wind farm opened off the coast of Rhode Island in December 2016. In June, the council gave a proposed wind farm off the state’s coast critical approval over the objections of the fishing industry and some environmentalists.

It's the state’s lead agency reviewing proposals for 19 coastal communities, including offshore wind, dredging, development, marinas and aquaculture projects.

Ruggiero said she's not looking back at past council decisions, especially since some of those decisions are in litigation. Rather, she said, she's looking to the future to ensure policy decisions are made based on facts, data and science to better ensure coastal development.

The commission includes other House lawmakers, municipal officials and representatives from the fishing industry and environmental organizations. It will meet on Oct. 6 in Newport and Nov. 10 in Jamestown,