Press Releases

  1. 11-30-2015: Climate rally in South County
  2. 12-23-2015: RI Clear River Energy Center proposal draws unusual intervenors
  3. 01-08-2016: Will Fracked Gas Power Power Plant in Burrillville?
  4. 01-11-2016: Will Invenergy get its fracked-gas power plant in Burrillville?
  5. 01-12-2016: Rhode Island Siting Board postpones ruling on public input on planned Burrillville power Plant
  6. 03-22-2016: Questions raised about Invenergy’s Clear River Energy Center in Burrillville

Questions raised about Invenergy’s Clear River Energy Center in Burrillville


From: Fossil Free Rhode Island

Kingston, Rhode Island, March 22, 2016 — On October 29 of last year, Invenergy Thermal Development LLC filed an application with the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board to construct a fossil fuel —mostly fracked gas— power plant in Burrillville, RI, the so-called Clear River Energy Center (CREC).  At its open meeting on January 29, the siting board excluded numerous groups from formal participation in the review of the CREC proposal.  Among those groups are the Burrillville Land Trust, the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats and an array of grassroots organizations including Fossil Free Rhode Island.

Last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a build-out of the compressor station in Burrillville which started in the fall of 2015 and is part of an interstate pipeline expansion called the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Project.  This project has been highly controversial.  In New York, the expanded pipeline would pass within 105 feet of critical infrastructure at the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

In response to this situation, last month Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York directed four New York state agencies to perform an independent safety risk analysis and asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to halt construction of the pipeline until this review is completed. [2]

Invenergy’s CREC proposal, which capitalizes on the AIM pipeline expansion, raises serious concerns about the cumulative impact of these various projects on public health in Rhode Island.

Last week, in an email to Directors Janet Coit of the RI Department of Environmental Management and Nicolle Alexander-Scott of the RI Department of Health, University of Rhode Island physics professor Peter Nightingale raised a number of questions about the cumulative impacts of fracked gas infrastructure developments on public health in Burrillville, RI. [1]  Among these are Spectra Energy’s AIM Project, Invenergy’s CREC, and Access Northeast, a project of Eversource Energy, National Grid and Spectra Energy.  In addition, on December 1 of last year, TransCanada applied to the Energy Facility Siting Board to build yet another gas-fired power plant, Ocean State Power Phase III, in Burrillville.  TransCanada seems to have abandoned the project for now, but who knows for how long?

Nightingale wonders:  “How can a modeling done at average temperature and humidity conditions capture the true episodic nature of the impact of CREC and the other nearby pollution sources on public health?  Human health is highly susceptible to episodes and these are smoothed out by taking averages.  Temperature, humidity and sunlight fluctuate wildly in Rhode Island and, due to climate change, they are expected to vary increasingly fiercely during the lifetime of the proposed Clear River Energy Center.”  Nightingale refers in this context to research by Hansen and Sato that found a more than ten-fold increase in weather extremes that occurred during the last 45 years, a time span comparable to the expected life time of the power plant Invenergy is proposing.

 [3]

As part of the regulatory process of the siting board, Invenergy submitted a report produced by the ESS Group, an environmental consulting group, that claims to take into account the polluting background effect of other sources in Rhode Island near Burrillville.  Data required for this was, as the ESS study mentions, supplied by the Department of Environmental Management.  Obviously, no information is available yet for the new situation that was created by the 2015 compressor station build-out that is part of the AIM Project.

The environmental impact study performed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission before it approved the AIM Project pipeline expansion last year lists Providence County as “moderate nonattainment,” which means that the air quality is below the standard required by the Clean Air Act.  The same  federal study shows that the noise level of Spectra Energy’s compressor station was above the legal limit even before the last build-out started.

In addition to the public health risks posed by CREC, it is clear that building a 1-gigawatt fossil fuel power plant in Burrillville will be a serious impediment to the growth of green energy in Rhode Island and neighboring states.  As Marie Schopac of Charlestown, a member of Fossil Free RI, remarked: “The financial investment in the wind farm will be all for naught if a gigawatt fracked gas power plant is built. Rhode Island needs a coordinated energy policy.”

Clearly, all of the above raises serious questions about the validity of the assessemt of the impact of the newly proposed power station.

[1] Letter to directors of DOH and DEM:  http://www.phys.uri.edu/nigh/FFRI/doh-dem.pdf

[2] New York State Request for Reconsideration of the March 2015 Order: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/FERC_AIM_LetterFinal.pdf

[3] Regional Climate Change and National Responsibilities: http://csas.ei.columbia.edu/2016/02/29/regional-climate-change-and-national-responsibilities/

Rhode Island Siting Board postpones ruling on public input on planned Burrillville power Plant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From: Fossil Free Rhode Island
Title: Rhode Island Siting Board postpones ruling on public input on planned Burrillville power Plant

At its public meeting today, the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board postponed ruling on giving grassroots groups and individuals the opportunity to get a fair hearing of their objections to the Clear River Energy Center, a fracked-gas power plant proposed by Invenergy, based in Chicago, IL.  The board will announce its final ruling on this matter at the next public hearing, scheduled for January 29.

The two remaining members of the three who should make up the board serve at the pleasure of Governor Raimondo, who is on record supporting expansion of the “natural” gas infrastructure (http://www.ri.gov/press/view/24624)  As a result, Janet Coit, one of the two board members, is in a bind.  She is Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and an avid environmentalist.  Last summer, she spoke last summer at the Sierra Club-sponsored rally, “The Environment is Everyone’s Business.”  Coit is painfully aware of the toll climate change is already taking on life in Narragansett Bay.  At the rally, she referred to a “profound experience” she had looking at colonial nesting birds on Hope Island. She said: “There are several islands in the Bay that used to host colonies of nesting terns and now they are submerged.”

Said Lisa Petrie of Fossil Free Rhode Island: “We’re calling on Governor Raimondo to wake up and recognize that building more gas-fired power plants threatens the future of our state and of humanity as a whole.”  Indeed, Invenergy’s proposal is inconsistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 Endangerment Finding, which determined that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare of current and future generations.  This language parallels that of the 2007 denial of a fossil-fuel plant permit by Roderick Brembly, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Obviously, team Raimondo is lagging reality by almost a decade.

Fossil Free Rhode Island reiterated that Governor Raimondo’s policies violate Article 1, Section 17 of the Rhode Island Constitution, the supreme law of the state, which clearly specifies the duty “to provide for the conservation of the air, land, water, plant, animal, mineral and other natural resources of the state.”

The Conservation Law Foundation has put forth that, by increasing Rhode Isalnd’s greenhouse gas emissions, the Clear River Energy Center would violate the Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014. The foundation urged the Board to terminate its deliberations, which would effectively deny Invenergy the permit it seeks. (http://www.ripuc.org/efsb/efsb/SB2015_06_m_CLF1.pdf)

The Burrillville Land Trust, in a blistering takedown of Invenergy’s proposal, argued for the same and writes: “We are being denied an opportunity to respond in a meaningful way because of mis-information, inadequate information and outright absence of information.” (http://www.ripuc.org/efsb/efsb/SB2015_06_m_BLT1.pdf)

Governor Raimondo has tried to make the case that Invenergy’s Energy Center will bring jobs to Rhode Island.  The Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, in its request for late intervention, agrees with the governor. (http://www.ripuc.org/efsb/efsb/SB2015_06_I_ribctc.pdf) This view is untenable and Fossil Free Rhode Island referred to a recent report of the Political Economy Research Institute of UMass in Amherst that states: “New investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy will generate more jobs for a given amount of spending than maintaining or expanding each country’s existing fossil fuel sectors.” (http://www.peri.umass.edu/236/hash/c54a56c9d1cfb854d5820ce7d12bcbe8/publication/665/)

Fossil Free Rhode Island once again drew attention to current research that shows that, given the urgency of dealing with climate change, “natural” gas has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than coal and oil. (https://www.dovepress.com/articles.php?article_id=24085) In other words, Invenergy’s proposed power plant is bad for Rhode Island on all counts: physics, economics and morality.

Sister Mary Pendergast, one of the individual intervenors, said: “I do not think that the spiritual and moral issues of environmental ethics will be adequately represented by excluding my testimony. Any decision the Siting Board makes that is good for the corporation, but not for the environment, is a bad decision and we will live to regret it.”

The Board referred to the ambiguous rules under which they operate.  They seem to interpret the rules as the requirement of attorney representation. This interpretation would exclude virtually all members of the public who filed for the status of intervenor.  Pat Fontes, representing Occupy Providence, said: “The refusal to admit the voice of Occupy Providence in the deliberations of this board would symbolize and contribute to the likelihood that ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ will indeed perish from the earth.”
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Will Invenergy get its fracked-gas power plant in Burrillville

From: Fossil Free Rhode Island
Title: Will Invenergy get its fracked-gas power plant in Burrillville
What:
Whom Will RI Energy Facility Siting Board Grant Intervenor Status to on Fracked-Gas Power Plant?—Hearing this Tuesday @ 9:30
When: January 12, 2016, 9:30am
Where: Hearing Room A of the Public Utilities Commission office building, 89 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, Rhode IslandThis Tuesday (1/12/2016) the Energy Facility Siting Board will hear arguments and rule on whether Fossil Free RI and other stakeholders will be granted intervenor status.  They need that to get a fair hearing on their objections to the Burrillville Fracked-Gas Power Plant proposed by Invenergy, based in Chicago, IL.Last week some of those seeking intervenor status have filed replies (http://www.ripuc.ri.gov/efsb/efsb/SB2015_06_R1_FFRI.pdf) with the Energy Facility Siting Board.  The replies contest Invenergy’s objections to their intervention, objections they see as an attempt to suppress public input on the power plant proposal.At the end of last week, the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council filed a motion for late intervention.  The council echoed Governor Raimondo’s misguided jobs argument, ignoring the fact that building a green energy infrastructure would create more jobs.  The Burrillville Land Trust filed a motion to deny Invenergy a permit for its proposed Clear River Energy Center.  The Conservation Law Foundation did filed a motion to the same effect earlier last week,
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Will Fracked Gas Power Power Plant in Burrillville

What: Whom Will RI Energy Facility Siting Board Grant Intervenor Status to on Fracked-Gas Power Plant?—Hearing this Tuesday @ 9:30
When: January 12, 2016, 9:30am
Where: Hearing Room A of the Public Utilities Commission office building, 89 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, Rhode Island

This Tuesday (1/12/2016) the Energy Facility Siting Board will hear arguments and rule on whether Fossil Free RI and other stakeholders will be granted intervenor status.  They need that to get a fair hearing on their objections to the Burrillville Fracked-Gas Power Plant proposed by Invenergy, based in Chicago, IL.

During the last couple of days some of those seeking intervenor status have filed replies (http://www.ripuc.ri.gov/efsb/efsb/SB2015_06_R1_FFRI.pdf) with the Energy Facility Siting Board.  The replies contest Invenergy’s objections to their intervention, objections they see as an attempt to suppress public input on the power plant proposal.

These interventions are part of a national trend that was discussed at a congressional hearing (on 12/1/2015) to oversee the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF03/20151201/104237/HHRG-114-IF03-Transcript-20151201.pdf)  Chairman Bay of that commission remarked about protests and disruption of meetings: “… even in the field when we are holding scoping hearings, it is not uncommon for the staff who do those hearings to report back that there seems to be a great deal of opposition in many communities to the construction of more infrastructure.”
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RI Clear River Energy Center proposal draws unusual intervenors

Yesterday (12/22/2015) was the last day to file as intervenor at the Rhode Island  Energy Facility Siting Board regarding Invenergy’s proposal to build a gas-fired power plant in Burrillville, RI.

Fossil Free RI (FFRI), one of several grassroots organizations filing for intervenor status, opposes plans to expand fossil fuel infrastructure in general, and at Fields Point in Providence and in Burrillville in particular.

Also FANG (Fighting Against Natural Gas) and BASE (Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion) will intervene.  Sister Mary Pendergast, explaining her arrest during a protest organized by FANG/BASE, said: “Pope Francis has called us all to an ecological conversion and he said it is essential and not an option.”

Occupy Providence’s motion to intervene states: “Putting profits over people is an integral part of the present socioeconomic system against which Occupy stands.”

The construction of the proposed power plant —part of the energy policy of team Raimondo— would slow down the transition to renewable energy.

As a recent report [1] of the PERI Institute of UMass in Amherst states: “New investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy will generate more jobs for a given amount of spending than maintaining or expanding each country’s existing fossil fuel sectors.”

“Natural” gas has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than coal and oil.[2] Clearly, team Raimondo is wrong on all counts: physics, economics and morality.

[1] The PERI quote can be found here.
[2] The statement ““Natural” gas has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than coal and oil” is based on research reported here and references therein.
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Climate rally in South County

Diverse group demands action from world leaders in Paris

Photographs attached

Peace Dale RI-November 30, 2015- Over 100 people gathered yesterday at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County (UUCSC) in Peace Dale yesterday to send a message to world leaders meeting in Paris that they demand strong, concrete commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. This was followed by a walk to Dale Carlia Corner where the marchers displayed signs and waved to passersby, many of whom honked in support. The crowd was a mix of people of all ages; most were from South Kingstown, but some came from other parts of the state or were visiting relatives for Thanksgiving. Jean Fogelberg Bowen, a South Kingstown resident and a member of UUCSC, posted afterwards “Signs, young people, community and congregations come together today. Great event!”

Robert Malin of the UUCSC Green Task Force introduced the demands: we must stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible, and the countries that have contributed the most to global warming must pay the most to finance the just transition to a renewable future. He went on to state that the current problems of terrorism are inextricably linked to Climate Change. Malin noted that “this year at the 21st UN Conference of Parties summit in Paris (COP21) we are hopeful because the United States and China, two of the greatest CO2 emitters, have agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions…however, voluntary targets of 40% reductions by 2050 fall far short of what is needed… if we are to keep global temperature rise below 2°C…These talks cannot fail.”

Jessica Ivon, a Freshman at South Kingstown High School and a participant in the SMILE (Science and Math Investigative Learning Experience) program at the University of Rhode Island (URI), gave an impassioned plea. “The impacts of global warming are becoming more visible every day… further inaction by global policy makers could result in run-away warming that will be beyond humanity’s ability to control”. These sentiments were echoed by Allegra Migliaccio, a Senior at Chariho High School and an active member of the UUCSC youth group, who added: ”What I strive for is a world of people who care enough to make a difference. That’s worth fighting for… So despite where we are, despite our struggles, thank you all for being here and for the hope you give me.” Then Jan Creamer, Fossil Free Rhode Island member, led everyone in a heartfelt rendition of We Shall Overcome with the words adjusted to address this particular civil rights struggle, environmental justice for all.

On the march and at the rally at Dale Carlia Corner, people talked about their concerns from a variety of different perspectives: as scientists, people of faith, naturalists, educators, students and business people. Leita Lord, South Kingstown resident and activist with Fossil Free Rhode Island who just returned from studying in Australia, said: “it is so great to see the people in my hometown joining the people of the world to make a statement that we need to approach this with sanity and change the way we are doing things to address this planetary emergency.” As the crowd of people filled all four corners of the intersection of 108 and Tower Hill Road, residents honked their horns, waved and cheered.

Yet amidst the optimism and exhilaration was the memory of the recent terror attacks in Paris, a somber reminder that climate change and the politics of oil are creating conditions– such mass migration, conflict, and instability–that increase the threat of terrorism. Steve Dahl, active with SKNetZero, a group of South Kingstown residents working to accelerate the town’s transition away from fossil fuels, said about the need for urgent action: “We must not let the terrible attacks by ISIL in Paris distract us from the problem at hand. Our policies in the Middle East and global warming led to the rise of ISIL, and we can’t let a racist response against these few extremists who do not represent Islam at all stop us from addressing this emergency, in fact it should serve as a wake-up call!”

The rally was concluded with a passionate speech by Alfred Bailey, who chairs the URI chapter of the Rhode Island Student Climate Coalition (RISCC). Bailey noted that “the effects of climate change disproportionately impact the lower socio-economic classes who have contributed the least to the problem…” and then went on to “connect the dots” noting that “the current refugee crisis and food shortages will become a common occurrence as climate change continues to disrupt populations.”

The event was sponsored by Fossil Free RI, RI IPL South County Action Team, and the Green Task Force of the UUCSC, in partnership with the Sisters of Mercy, RI Interfaith Power & Light, and AFSC-SENE.

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Leita Lord and Steve Dahl marching

Leita Lord and Steve Dahl marching

 

Most of the Group before the walk

Most of the Group before the walk

 

Allegra Marching

Allegra Marching

 

At Dale Carlia Corners

At Dale Carlia Corners

 

Fossil Free RI Banner

Fossil Free RI Banner

Group shot closeup of middle

Group shot closeup of middle