For nearly two years, the Burrillville Land Trust has worked to make the Clear River Energy Center a statewide issue: 42 “Learn the Facts” presentations, street tours, advocating for legislation, speaking before town councils from Woonsocket to Block Island, speaking before the Providence City Council Ordinance Committee, working with state agencies to hone in on climate change criteria, imploring and working with conservation and environmental organizations to actively support the position taken by the land trust, and more. Success has resulted in stake holders from all across the state and nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts actively opposing the proposed facility. Sometimes the opposition takes the form of a letter, a resolution, an active protest. And sometimes…well, sometimes you can’t predict the impact of advocacy and education. As in this case…
Kelsey and Sydney Treanor sat in the back seat of a Prius watching the narrow winding rural roads and listening about the prospects for a 1,000 megawatt industrial-sized power plant in the middle of the woods in northwestern Rhode Island. The “street tour” produced and presented by members of the Burrillville Land Trust and narrated by me, Paul A. Roselli, president of the Burrillville Land Trust, a vocal advocate for the statewide opposition to the Clear River Energy Center. On that day, the Treanor sisters and five others rode along a portion of the proposed truck route that would supply the Invenergy project with oil, water, hydrogen, ammonia, haul away waste water and supply other needed materials to make the power plant function. Bluetooth communication between the two vehicles provided the means to narrate and to ask questions. And the Treanor sisters had a lot of questions.
The 19.8 mile route from a yet to be built water facility along Federal Way in Johnston, RI to a site near Algonquin Gas Transmission – site of the proposed Clear River Energy Center, in Pascoag, RI – is yet to be decided as the proceedings at the RI Energy Facility Siting Board are on hold till July pending state and local agencies weighing in on the new water plan. 8,000 gallon water trucks weighing over 100,000 pounds and 11,000 gallon fuel oil trucks would take about 34 minutes to travel the 19.8 mile route. Invenergy, LLC states in their new water plan submitted to the RI Energy Facility Siting Board on January 11, 2017 that there would only be two or three trucks a day that would make the journey to supply water, oil, hydrogen, ammonia and other materials to the power plant. Opposition advocates dispute those claims using Invenergy’s own statistics, “On page 12 of that new water plan report in Table 2.1 under notes, Invenergy states that during the summer upwards of 4,600 gallons per hour would be used in addition to the two or three trucks. And when the power plant operates on oil, 724,320 gallons of oil per day would be used. If you’re in the business of making money and electricity, you have to keep the generators operating and you have to fill up those tanks.” It is a claim that I have made using Invenergy’s own data 42 times during a Learn the Facts presentation sponsored by the land trust and the Rhode Island Association of Conservation Commissions.
The number of trucks could be staggering especially when you add the number of back and forth truck trips. The total number of truck trips amounts to well over 100, each and every day at certain times of the year.
The Treanor sisters heard all of this. Watching and listening carefully during the nearly 2 hour street tour and drive. The tour took the two sisters and five others from a portion of Route 44, to Route 100, along South Main Street in Pascoag, RI and then along Wallum Lake Road. There are no shoulders along many of these rural roads. No breakdown lane. Houses are built close to the street with driveways butting up to the town lane roads. A school and school busses, police, fire and rescue, delivery trucks, commuters all use these same roads. Anyone who drives through the village of Chepachet knows well the congestion that takes place at normal drive times. “There are 5 fire stations along this route. Most residential cars along these rural roads usually back out onto oncoming traffic.”
After the journey, the two went back to their High School and talked to their principal Daniel Kelley asking for permission to start an environmental club. Kelsey and Sydney wanted to learn why Smithfield and their town council was not part of a list of those municipal town governments opposing the Invenergy project. Over the past year 35 cities and towns in Rhode Island and nearly Connecticut and Massachusetts have written resolutions opposing the power plant in the northwestern part of RI. But not Smithfield.
The two created the environmental club in the hopes of getting more students involved. “There are about 8 of us now and we hope to get more,” Kelsey Treanor said. The two are writing letters to the Smithfield Town Council president Paul M. Santucci and are planning on attending Town Council meetings to ask why Smithfield is not part of the opposition. Those in opposition to the Invenergy project have written resolutions to the RI Energy Facility Siting Board stating their opposition to the proposed power plant.
For Kelsey and Sydney, the “street tour” had a lasting impression. “I can’t imagine why anyone would build a power plant here and allow all these trucks. Doesn’t make any sense.”
The land trust is planning more street tours during July and August.
For more information contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (401) 447-1560