Former Governor Lincoln Chafee, who recently came out against the massive fracked gas/ diesel fuel power plant known as the Clear River Energy Center, was the keynote speaker at the Burrillville Democratic Town Committee meeting on April 17th. His opposition to the plant is for all of the right reasons. Chafee stated his concern on increased polluting emissions, protecting natural resources and an unsuitable location.
I was expecting his address to focus on his opposition to the plant, but to my surprise he quickly flipped the narrative to his support for hydroelectric power. As Governor, Chafee championed the greener, cleaner and more environmentally friendly hydroelectric option. But when his initiative was being looked into back in 2013 it was met with across the board opposition. Opponents included major environmental groups Sierra Club, People’s Power and Light and Conservation Law Foundation headed by Jerry Elmer, all who also vehemently oppose the proposed power plant in Burrillville.
In Canada, where the damming for many hydro projectes originates, resistance from the Indigenous Cree population was fierce, that resistance, according to Chafee, has been resolved and the Cree are now on-board with the hydroelectric plants that are currently being built in their territory in Northern Quebec. The Cree approval however, is very debatable.
Chafee did note the issues with environmental groups but he spoke of his 2014 meeting with other New England governors and many leaders in Canada who believed that hydroelectric power would provide needed energy once existing fossil fuel plants are retired. The former governor said consumption and cost issues were relevant for Rhode Island and the rest of New England. He touted that if “we stick together, we could be the premium green energy provider” in the country.
His quick presentation of about 45 minutes ended with people taking selfies and engaging in additional conversation. Chafee, to me, is a very personable and approachable politician. He has always been eager to listen to members of the community and tonight was no different. The post conversation changed gears to his run for president and the aftermath.
We spoke a bit about Clinton and her presidential bid. A quick question when asked was emphatically answered by the Ex Governor- “Of course I voted for Bernie in the primary”. He was a fan of Bernie he pointed out his campaign in RI and how the DNC should have run Bernie to combat the populous message of Trump. He like Bernie’s campaign and style and he had no qualms stating that Bernie would have won! As far as Chafee and his political future and running for office — all he would say is he is taking a break. Time will tell when or if that break will end.