Rhode Islanders will get their only chance to directly address their concerns regarding a proposed methane liquefaction facility in South Providence next Thursday night. The proposal needs approval by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), an agency that has almost never turned down such an application in the past. (Though in 2005 FERC did reject an application for LNG infrastructure at Fields Point. It was from Keyspan Energy, a company later acquired by National Grid and it was a very different proposal.) So opponents need to turn out in force if the plan is to be defeated.
The liquefaction plant would be an expansion of an existing methane storage facility at Fields Point, near Thurbers Avenue. The expansion would allow National Grid to convert methane imported through the lng import facility in Everett MA and delivered by tanker truck into liquid form, allowing a greater amount of methane to be stored on site.
The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island (EJLRI) says that the location of the site, near one of the poorest communities in Providence, and mostly populated by people of color, is environmental racism. Further, questions have been raised about the safety to the community due to unavoidable leaks of methane, benzene and the chemicals harmful to human health.
There are wider environmental concerns over the logic of expanding Rhode Island’s reliance on fossil fuels at a time when we should be seeking alternative forms of energy that do not contribute to global warming. Rhode Island has several infrastructure projects in the works to expand our dependence on fracked methane, infrastructure planned to last over fifty years, yet our best case estimates on fossil fuels gives us maybe a fifteen year window to leave them behind before passing the no return point in saving the planet from the worst effects of global warming.
And all this says nothing about the environmental devastation being wrought in those communities where methane is extracted.
Rhode Island should also carefully consider its relationship with National Grid, a company that each year seems to request (and is granted) obscene rate increases for energy, is being sued for violating the law by shutting off the power of the elderly and disabled, and included false information in the application for the liquefaction facility submitted to FERC.
How long are our political leaders, including Gina Raimondo, who wants to be seen as an environmental governor, going to support a lying, price gouging, environment destroying foreign multinational corporation over the health, wellbeing and future of the citizens of Rhode Island? There is a rising chorus of voices demanding substantive change in Rhode Island’s energy and environmental policy, and National Grid is not part of that change.
The EJLRI hopes to “pack the house” at the public hearing, saying that “otherwise, issues like environmental racism, health effects, economic inequality impacts, etc., won’t even be part of the debate.” They provided logistics and organizing info:
Logistics for FERC’s public hearing:
– each person will have a max of 3 minutes to speak
– starting at 6pm people can sign up to speak
– at 6:30, FERC will do a short presentation about the proposed project and their process for reviewing it, and will then call for speakers
– the hearing will go until everyone who signed up as spoken, or until 10:30, whichever comes first
– whether or not you want to speak, COME SUPPORT! And bring signs or banners if you can
– If you know you’ll be wanting to speak, email email@example.com with the topic you’ll want to speak out. Since everyone only has 3 minutes, we’ll work to make sure all the important topics get covered
– If you don’t know what to say, contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can give you suggestions. We will also be passing out info sheets and brochures at the event with more info
Background on the issues – here are some articles that talk about reasons why this is a terrible idea and needs to be stopped.