Updated Dec. 5 at 1:17 p.m.
Members of the Providence community gathered at a Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council meeting Tuesday in protest of National Grid’s proposal to build a liquefied natural gas production plant at Fields Point. CRMC is the state entity that will ultimately decide whether the $100 million project is installed or not.
During the hearing, protesters expressed their concerns regarding the environmental and social hazards this facility could cause.
“We don’t want them spending a hundred million dollars to build this toxic facility that is using fossil fuels to destroy the planet and to keep destroying our neighborhood,” said Monica Huertas, campaign coordinator for the No LNG in PVD movement.
During Tuesday’s hearing, National Grid representatives declined to comment. But National Grid’s website says the LNG facility will help supply New England National Grid customers with up to 40 percent of the gas they would need during the coldest part of the year. It also says “the facility would be a reliable, safe, cost-effective way to ensure that (their) customers have the natural gas they need to heat their homes and businesses, particularly when the demand is greatest.”
The "facility would be a reliable, safe, cost-effective way to ensure that our customers have the natural gas they need to heat their homes and businesses, particularly when the demand is greatest," wrote National Grid Director of Communications Ted Kresse in an email to The Herald. "Liquefied natural gas is already stored at the site. What we are proposing would change the way we fill the existing tank, by installing liquefaction equipment on the same property."
But Ward 3 City Council Member for, Nirva LaFortune, told The Herald: “This is environmental discrimination and I think it’s unfair and unethical. These kids are breathing toxins on a daily basis, and they’re from immigrant families and people of color. We need to be more ethical, and we need to think about the type of facilities that we’re bringing into these communities because we’re destroying it.”
The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island published a paper claiming that South Providence, where the installment of the power plant is expected, has concentrated poverty and communities of color. It also has little to no waterfront access in an area zoned for heavy industrial use with multiple polluting and hazardous facilities.
Mayor Jorge Elorza has publicly stated that he opposes the development of the facility as “it presents danger to the neighborhood, especially in the face of a changing climate.” Elorza signed an executive order last year committing Providence to becoming a carbon neutral city by 2050.
Furthermore, State Rep. Aaron Regunberg ’12, D-Providence, told The Herald that he has been against the project since it was originally proposed. “We need to be making a rapid transition to clean energy. If we want to lower costs, we need to have our own independent clean energy sector right here in Rhode Island,” said Regunberg.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Invenergy, the company that provides the funds for the construction of the facility, announced last week that the facility’s opening, originally planned for 2020, is now postponed to 2021. It also stated that Ted Kresse, a spokesperson from National Grid, told The Herald that though National Grid was set to deliver the facility by 2020, the Clear River Energy Center “has not provided the required security nor authorized National Grid to proceed,” causing the project to be delayed. In fact, this was referring to a separate natural gas plant that is being funded by Invenergy. The Herald regrets the errors.