Environmental advocacy groups and businesses have been finding common ground in recent years around an unlikely issue: stronger enforcement of environmental laws.
Businesses and environmental groups haven’t always agreed on how to protect the environment, but that’s changed said David Caldwell, vice president of the Rhode Island Builders Association. Caldwell said weak enforcement of rules and regulations hurts the state’s natural resources and law-abiding businesses.
“Unfortunately, the urgent problems caused by people not doing the right thing can consume a great deal of resources,” said Caldwell.
He joined Save the Bay Director Jonathan Stone at a press conference, where Stone pointed to high profile cases as evidence of weak enforcement.
“The three that we specifically mentioned were the Rhode Island Recycled Metals case in the Providence waterfront, the Copar Quarry operation in Westerly, and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation,” said Stone.
Stone said Gov. Gina Raimondo inherited agencies whose budgets have dwindled over the past 10 years. But he said replenishing those resources is one way the governor could draw new businesses and create more jobs, as she aspires to do.
Former DEM Director Louise Durfee agrees with Stone, adding it’s not fair to hold some businesses accountable and others not.
“That kind of inaction can breed a great deal of cynicism about enforcement," said Durfee. "So it’s very, very important that they have the resources to do the job."
The governor wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Note: This post has been updated.
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