Armed with a projector and determination, protesters marched to WaterFire Saturday night in opposition to National Grid’s proposal to build a liquefied natural gas processing facility in the Port of Providence. WaterFire is sponsored by National Grid.
As the festivities kicked off, protesters stood over Crawford Street Bridge carrying signs with slogans like “#nonationalgreed.” A projector flashed phrases onto the bridge such as “The climate crisis, sponsored by National Grid” and “Dirty LNG in South Providence, sponsored by National Grid.”
Protesters, organized by an affiliate of 350.org called Climate Action Rhode Island, highlighted environmental and sociological consequences of the proposed LNG facility, which would store natural gas, said Lauren Niedel-Gresh, a member of Climate Action Rhode Island. Federal regulators cleared the proposal in July and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission final decision could take on the project this month, according to the Providence Journal.
Environmental advocates spoke about the ramifications of fracked gas infrastructure like an LNG facility.
“We have to move to a fully renewable energy within the next 25 years, or we are going to bake this planet after that,” Niedel-Gresh told The Herald.
“My goal in life is to leave the environment in far better condition than I found it in because it is incredibly unfair to dump environmental problems on the generations to come,” said Alex Duryea, a Nature’s Trust Rhode Island petitioner and master’s student at University of Rhode Island at the pre-march rally at Roger Williams Monument Park.
Advocates for racial and economic equality also highlighted the social impact of building an LNG facility in South Providence — an area “plagued with environmental racism,” Niedel-Gresh said, adding that the community surrounding the proposed facility is already contaminated with air and water pollutants.
“We’re demanding a publicly owned utility — and a publicly owned utility that is democratically controlled,” said Anna Brennan of the Providence Democratic Socialists of America.
Brennan’s group was also protesting Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission’s recent approval of National Grid’s request to increase electric rates by about 3.5 percent, which amounts to about $3.67 per month per customer, according to the commission’s press release. The commission also approved a request to decrease the average rate of gas for residents by 0.9 percent.
Monica Huertas, campaign coordinator of No LNG in PVD, reminded protesters of the importance of including those most affected by the proposal in their advocacy work.
“We in South Providence have really just the bottom of the barrel stuff — dirty, dirty oil and gas and just really just nasty things,” she said at the rally before reminding listeners that “you can’t do this without black or brown people. You have to make the space for us.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Brown cheered on protesters as they marched from Roger Williams Monument Park to WaterFire.
“It’s 2018. We need to be having no new fossil fuel burning at all, no new fossil fuel infrastructure,” Brown told The Herald.