To the Editor:
Governor Raimondo has nominated candidates to the State Energy team that have close ties with the fossil fuel industry. It is the responsibility of the RI Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment to “advise and consent” these nominations by asking: What are their transitional plans for renewable energy while protecting the consumer? Do they believe there is a need for new fossil fuel infrastructure? Should National Grid be able to build new, “temporary” facilities without any oversight from the Energy Facility Siting Board?
The public deserves to know these answers because two of the Governor’s current nominees have publicly advocated for new fossil fuel infrastructure in the state. Nick Ucci, the nominee to head the State Energy Commission, was a strong advocate of the now-defunct proposed power plant in Burrillville. Ronald Gerwatowski, the nominee for Chair of the Public Utilities Commission, would also serve as the default head of the Energy Facility Siting Board. A former lawyer for National Grid, he has proposed to add a larger pipeline from Aquidneck Island to the Algonquin pipeline, giving a huge payout to National Grid at a cost to residents. National Grid has already been granted a pass for building a temporary compressor on Aquidneck Island and has proposed that any new “temporary” facilities do not fall under the approval of the EFSB. Do we want a former lawyer for National Grid in charge of making that decision?
As chair of the Senate Agriculture and Environment committee, Senator Sue Sosnowski has a responsibility to ask these important questions of the nominees. However, past hearings indicate that the Senate committee will not. The lack of leadership in addressing these concerns has already hurt a community in South Providence by ensuring the construction of a new liquified natural gas facility in their neighborhood. I believe that instead of silencing discourse, the committee should use its authority to “advise and consent.” We need a just, comprehensive plan to transition to renewable energy- rubber stamping the Governor’s nominees is not the answer.
Candidate for Senate District 37