To the Editor:
The R.I. Department of Environmental Management is again on record as opposing economic growth and its corollary, jobs. The DEM (an acronym for Delay Economic Momentum) recently objected to a legislative proposal to prevent the expiration of building permits issued to developers by local and state regulatory agencies.
A moratorium on the time for the implementation of such permits was wisely established by the General Assembly in 2011 because of the debilitating effect of the Great Recession on the building trades. In Rhode Island that slump continues.
National economic surveys list Rhode Island as the state with the most difficult, slow and cumbersome regulatory process for economic-development projects. These ratings do not take into account the under-the-table cost of doing business in the Ocean State. Developers spend tens of thousands of dollars and many months to obtain permits for their housing plans. Very often those expenditures of money and time are vastly increased by the labyrinthine, unsympathetic and dilatory DEM regulatory process.
DEM has found additional ways to stifle our local economy by “devising several new regulations … which reflect the most recent science and better protect the environment.” Since permits issued prior to the concoction of these new regulations would escape their economically deadening effect, DEM desires that these permits be terminated.
DEM is our state’s greatest obstacle to economic growth and job creation. Its arbitrary, high-handed, intransigent demeanor is indicative of DEM’s desire to place developers on its endangered species list. If Roger Williams had to contend with this hostile and unresponsive bureaucracy, Rhode Island would still be a frontier outpost in the wilderness.
Patrick T. Conley
Rhode Island historian laureate