Climate Activists Take to Streets to Protest Proposed Providence LNG Project

 Climate activists recently protested National Grid's LNG project proposed for the Port of Providence. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News)

Climate activists recently protested National Grid's LNG project proposed for the Port of Providence. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News)

Local and global climate demonstrations set for week ahead

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — Climate activists were out protesting ahead of a global day of protest set for this Saturday, Sept. 8.

The group No LNG in PVD held a rush-hour rally Aug. 30 outside the National Grid office on Allens Avenue to protest a proposed facility that produces liquefied natural gas. The $180 million project is slated for an already-contaminated 42-acre lot owned by the utility. The super-cooled gas makes it easier to store and ship larger volumes of the fossil fuel, which will be stored onsite in a 127-foot-tall storage tank or trucked to others sites in southern New England. National Grid says the facility is needed to ease energy demand during heat waves and cold snaps.

The recent protest was the latest on the busy thoroughfare seeking to draw opposition to “the toxic, explosive, climate-warming liquid natural gas plant that National Grid wants to build on the South Side of Providence, with the blessing of Governor Raimondo, and the other risks to public health and safety in the Port of Providence,” according to No LNG in PVD.

The National Grid project has already cleared some approvals, including from the state's Coastal Resources Management Council

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the final say on the proposed facility. FERC is reviewing comments it received from its environmental assessment, which was released in late June. A decision is expected soon.

Work will not begin at the site until all of the permits are received, including a water-quality certification and authorization for building a pollutant discharge elimination system, known as RIPDES, from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The city is also reviewing a soil erosion and sediment control plan from National Grid.

National grid initially expected to be building the facility by now, to meet a 2020 opening date. A revised timeline is expected.

Large tucks and construction vehicles are visible at the parcel. However, National Grid says the work is for maintenance at 642 Allens Ave. that is unrelated to the LNG project.

This fossil-fuel project, along the proposed Burrillville power plant, have become major election issues.

Gov. Gina Raimondo has been accused of favoring fossil-fuel development as she accepts campaign contributions from fossil-fuel companies. The latest is a $250,000 donation from Stacy Schusterman, chairwoman of Samson Energy Co. The Oklahoma-based company explores and extracts oil and natural gas from onshore and offshore wells.

“This contribution will undoubtedly further Raimondo’s sympathetic stance towards the (fossil-fuel) industry,” according to Emma Bouton and Lauren Maunus of the Rhode Island Student Climate Coalition (RISCC).

Lt. Gov. Dan McKee received $50,000 from Schusterman for his re-election campaign.

As part of the national day of protest, RISCC, No LNG in PVD, and other advocacy groups will participate in the Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice rally Sept. 8 at the Roger Williams National Memorial on North Main Street. The event starts at 6 p.m. The activists will march to WaterFire on South Main Street to protest National Grid, the sponsor of the event.

“We are insisting on a just transition away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy. Rhode Island cannot afford to build any new fossil fuel infrastructure or facilities, instead we need to phase out all fossil fuel use and turn our economy, our communities, and our planet into clean renewable energy superstars,” according to event organizers.

Similar climate events are planed in 80 countries this Saturday to coincide with the upcoming Global Climate Action Summit in California.