Earlier this month, Rhode Island’s primary energy provider, National Grid, proposed the construction of a $180 million liquid natural gas (LNG) facility in Providence. The new facility would tap into an existing gas pipeline that passes through the city in order to provide a domestic source of LNG, which is currently imported from overseas suppliers.
On Tuesday night, the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) of Rhode Island held a public hearing on the proposal, which began with testimony from National Grid representatives. Tony LaRusso, an operations employee at National Grid, said that a domestic source of LNG is necessary for providing the area with sufficient gas during the winter months. He also said that the new facility would create around 155 new jobs. Participants at the hearing expressed concern about the storm resistance of the plant, but LaRusso said it would not be an issue.
The hearing drew a large opposition group to the National Grid’s proposal. Around 30 Rhode Island citizens signed up to voice their concerns to the council, and many spoke in passionate condemnation of the potential environmental effects of the new facility.
Maria Huertas, a resident of South Providence and a mother of four, lives a quarter of a mile away from the current facility.
“This is an asthma zone,” Huertas said. “I was just in the hospital this last month with one of my children who would not stop having an asthma attack. People do live here. Just because it’s been historically polluted doesn’t mean we have to continue this. Where do we draw the line?”
Huertas’ testimony was supported by others, who agreed that the environmental costs to the community will outweigh the benefits of a domestic LNG facility.
The CRMC will be holding another hearing on November 28, as they work to decide whether the new plant complies with their policies.