City Councilman Seth Yurdin (Ward One) is sponsoring a resolution that calls for a comprehensive analysis of National Grid’s plans to construct a natural gas liquefaction facility in Providence. Currently, National Grid has a liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tank at Fields Point; the new plant would process natural gas and convert it to liquid form on site. The resolution will be considered by the full City Council on Thursday, March 17th.
Yurdin, who has led multiple legislative initiatives addressing climate change and sustainability, said, “The proposal is a significant intensification of the current activity at National Grid’s Fields Point site—producing LNG is very different than storing it—and the impacts of that intensified activity need to be carefully and thoroughly studied, and communicated to the public.”
The LNG proposal is currently under consideration by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Yurdin’s resolution notes that public health and safety, climate change, and environmental justice concerns must be evaluated closely as part of FERC’s review. The resolution states that, “Rhode Island is positioned to become a leader in renewable energy. . . supporting the proposed Fields Point liquefaction facility could undermine efforts to reduce Rhode Island’s reliance on natural gas and other fossil fuels.” Yurdin cited the Block Island wind farm, renewable energy incentives through Rhode Island’s Office of Energy Resources, and Providence’s ongoing initiative to divest from fossil fuels to exemplify the state’s leadership on addressing climate change.
“The development of the Fields Point liquefaction facility will continue to deepen our reliance on fossil fuels, when, in fact, we should be investing much more into clean, renewable energy sources,” Yurdin said. “The long-term cumulative impact of projects like the National Grid LNG will be devastating to our environment.”
Yurdin also noted environmental justice concerns regarding the facility’s proximity to South Providence and Washington Park—communities largely impacted by socioeconomic and health risks, including high rates of poverty, unemployment and asthma: “We cannot ignore that this project may increase health, safety, and environmental risks for already vulnerable populations living in close proximity to the site. We must address these concerns openly and fairly,” said Yurdin.
The resolution calls for a comprehensive environmental impact statement, which would include air quality and truck traffic studies; a risk management plan; and an inclusive public participation process. The City of Providence would hold public forums in multiple neighborhood locations and engage stakeholders to address concerns.
The resolution will be introduced at the City Council meeting on March 17, 2016 at 7 p.m., at City Hall, Council Chambers, Third Floor.
[From a press release]