Under questioning from climate activist Lorraine Savard and after being admonished by Nick Katkevich of the FANG Collective, RI Senator Sheldon Whitehouse agreed to take a closer look at National Grid‘s proposed expansion of the LNG Facility at Fields Point in the Port of Providence.
“You said ‘trust the process,’” said Savard on Saturday during a meeting of Whitehouse and his constituents. “What do you think of the stinking process when the process bends over backwards to fossils, to accommodate fossils. The entire eastern seaboard- here in Rhode Island Providence Port is being threatened by these people and you say, ‘trust the process.’ This process is awful…”
“Just to be clear,” replied Whitehouse, “The process that I recommended that we trust was the state Energy Facility Siting Board…”
“No,” interrupted Katkevich, “that’s a federal project of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…”
“Please don’t interrupt me,” said Whitehouse, “…which is a process that operates under the Administrative Procedures Act, is subject to judicial review, has public evidence behind it, I used to review those cases as Attorney General in the Attorney General’s office, So I think that that is a trust-worthy process.
“And I think the people that are on it, like Janet Coit, are trustworthy people. Do I trust the process as to what’s going on in Washington with fossil fuel? No! I give climate speeches every week about how the fossil fuel people have corrupted the process in Washington…
Whitehouse misspoke here. The expansion at Fields Point requires federal, not state approval. He seemed to be confusing the project at Fields Point with Invenergy‘s planned power plant for Burrillville.
“So just be clear on what I meant…” said Whitehouse.
“The LNG facility is a federal process of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” said Katkevich. “You told me out [in the hallway] that you were not going to oppose a $180 million fracked gas LNG facility in a community of color in a low-income community that’s being proposed by National Grid. How can you be in Congress, talking about fossil fuels every week but when there’s a federal project… We just want a letter written to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that says it’s not a good project, which all sorts of lawmakers across the state have already done.
“Let’s take a look at it,” said Whitehouse, maybe realizing his error.
“We need you to do that,” said Katkevich, “and we’ve been asking for months…”
“We’ll take a look at it,” repeated Whitehouse.
This might be the first time that Whitehouse has publicly agreed to review a local fossil fuel infrastructure proposal with an eye towards possibly coming out against it.