Save The Bay commends Gov. Dan McKee for allocations to environmental agencies and green bonds in 2023 budget proposal, repeats call for OSCAR funding

Save The Bay commends Gov. Dan McKee for allocations to environmental agencies and green bonds in 2023 budget proposal, repeats call for OSCAR funding

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – January 24, 2022 – Following the release of Gov. Dan McKee’s budget on Thursday afternoon, local environmental nonprofit Save The Bay applauded the governor for proposing investments in agencies and bond initiatives that contribute to the health of Narragansett Bay.

“We are pleased to see several important priorities that will benefit both the Bay and the residents of Rhode Island, especially the increases in capacity at the Department of Environmental Management and the Coastal Resources Management Council, and investments in green bond initiatives,” said Save The Bay Executive Director, Jonathan Stone. 

The budget includes funding for six new full-time employees in DEM’s Bureau of Environmental Protection—a move that would strengthen the agency’s capacity to issue permits and ensure compliance with environmental laws. The addition of one policy staff member at CRMC is a first step in helping the agency meet the growing workload caused by climate change impacts, wind energy development, and increased demand for public access. Save The Bay fully supports the additional staff but notes that even more are needed.

“As the agencies most responsible for the health and protection of Narragansett Bay, the investment in staffing capacity at CRMC, and especially DEM, is welcome and long overdue,” said Save The Bay Director of Advocacy, Topher Hamblett. “While we will continue to call for strengthening of the state’s environmental agencies, the governor’s budget represents the first significant step in restoring the capacity of DEM’s core environmental protection programs after decades of budget cuts.” 

Hamblett added, however, “We’re pleased that the $38 million green bond proposal includes investments for clean water projects, watershed restoration, open space protection and climate resilience. Beyond the benefits these investments will yield for the Bay, we know that these are the kinds of improvements that Rhode Islanders want, as green bonds traditionally pass with overwhelming support.” 

While Save The Bay supports the aforementioned elements of the governor’s budget, the organization notes its opposition to the governor’s proposal to change the law in order to allow private practice, contracted attorneys to serve as part-time hearing officers for CRMC. The practice is prohibited by current law for both DEM and CRMC and creates the potential for political interference and conflicts of interest. 

Save The Bay also strongly urges the governor and General Assembly to designate funding the Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience Fund, known as OSCAR.

“The General Assembly passed OSCAR and the governor signed it into law, but did so without allocating funding for cities, towns and the state to implement projects to help the Bay and its rivers adapt to climate change,” explained Hamblett. “We commend Sen. Ryan Pearson and Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson for championing the passage of OSCAR as state policy. It is now time to fund OSCAR to make the program work.”

More information about Save The Bay’s 2022 legislative priorities is available on the organization’s website at Those interested in being notified of opportunities to participate in the nonprofit’s advocacy efforts are invited to sign up for Action Alerts at