Following the natural gas outage that left Aquidneck Island in the cold for a week in 2019, National Grid proposed the liquefied natural gas storage facility on Old Mill Lane in Portsmouth as a temporary measure to protect our island from outages during peak winter demand. When presented with options for reducing the risk of future outages, the municipalities of Aquidneck Island made it clear that the facility on Old Mill Lane was not the preferred option.
Since then, scientists have issued even more dire warnings about the rate at which we are warming our climate with fossil fuel consumption (including fracked gas) and carbon output. The preferred solution is to create opportunity for customers to transition to cleaner alternatives and away from their reliance on fossil fuels.
Now, as so often happens with temporary solutions with higher risks but lower costs, this stopgap measure is being floated by the utility — Rhode Island Energy (RIE) — as a permanent installation. A residential neighborhood, where families live and play, however, is no place for a dangerous and noisy liquified natural gas facility.
Along with neighbors and many other leaders on the island, we stand firmly against the Energy Facility Siting Board granting permanent siting of this facility – especially because frequent periodic assessments and proof of efforts to reduce the demand for gas on the island have not been and may not be required. Moreover, allowing RIE to keep this facility permanently in place will not help us meet the carbon reduction goals of the RI Act on Climate.
The long-term solution, which has been before the utility since the gas outage, should have been greater investment in cleaner energy alternatives. Yet, RIE is apparently not pursuing a concerted, dedicated effort to move away from gas and oil heating and press for more energy-efficient buildings.
The bottom line is that all available options involve cost, sacrifice or risk to some portion of our population, but the neighbors of this facility should not be asked to bear all of these. We must all start to make the permanent shift toward safer, more sustainable energy, or we will doom ourselves and future generations to increasing catastrophic rising sea levels and dangerous weather events.
-Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown), Rep. Michelle E. McGaw (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton) and Sen. Linda Ujifusa (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol)
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