WHO: National Grid

WHAT: … has proposed the construction of a $180 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility right next to some other fossil-fuel producing, chemical-leaking facilities, all of which are conveniently located on the wrong side of the hurricane barrier.

WHERE: Allens Avenue, South Side of Providence — otherwise known as The Sacrifice Zone. Opposition to the influx of industrial facilities placed along Allens Avenue has gradually gained momentum over the past two to three years.

WHY? A few individuals, with no intention of benefiting Rhode Island, make a profit. Perfect.

WHY NOT? Where to begin? The growing campaign, No LNG in PVD, has made significant strides in communicating the stark environmental racism occurring in PVD, specifically on Allens Avenue. Every EPA-identified toxic polluter in the PVD area operates in this location.

The proposed project will only prolong damaging effects of fossil fuel pollution. In addition to the new LNG facility being environmentally problematic, the detrimental health effects associated with industrial facilities are concentrated in a single area, populated mainly by low-income people of color. More than enough accidents have occurred on Allens Avenue that could have ended in explosions and taken the lives of area residents. On March 9, 2017, at the Motiva Enterprises terminal, an ethanol train ran off the tracks at 1am and jutted out into Allens Avenue. Although no toxins leaked, ethanol is explosive and highly flammable. Had the accident taken place during the day, the story may have had a horrific ending. Shortly after this incident, on March 29, 2017, a high-pressure gas main on Allens Ave ruptured and leaked gas onto the street. Responses by National Grid members, as well as RI State House figures, to these particular environmental events have been relatively nonchalant or nonexistent. In addition to these environmental issues and dangers, the new LNG facility would come at an incredibly high cost to the public. Taxpayers will be paying upward of $180 million over the next 20 years.

TODAY: No LNG in PVD campaign coordinator Monica Huertas has had enough. On Wednesday, June 6 she organized an event to sit-in at State House hearings concerning the appointing of three people to the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC). Many campaign supporters testified in the hearings, explaining that the make-up of the CRMC needs to reflect all people living along the coast, not just the rich communities. In an on-site interview with Huertas she stated, “The environmental racism piece is that [the facility] is going to be built in South Providence, and it’s not going to be built anywhere else. Nor should it. I’m not saying that [the facility] should be built anywhere else, but the fact is that it would not even be proposed to be built in any area where there were rich or white people.” Huertas went on to explain that in this day and age, it shouldn’t be difficult to seek qualified scientists or environmentalists of color to correct the clear lack of representation of coastal, low-income communities in environmental debates.

One could argue that the increase in job opportunities created by this facility would be a positive for the low-income community. Although an increase in employment stimulates the economy, employment in another industrial facility would hurt the community more than help. As Democratic candidate for state senate Paul Roselli said in an interview with Motif, “Rhode Island is still on the track to put a lot of gas infrastructure, fossil fuel infrastructure, in place, whether it be on the northwest corner of RI or Fields Point in PVD. The LNG tank is just another example of a mentality, a 1930s, 1940s mentality, that says that we need this stuff… and we don’t.”

The world needs to be collectively moving toward green energy. Allens Avenue has paid its dues as a sacrifice zone since the late 1800s. Roselli explained that there is an inherent need to value the health and safety of all citizens of Rhode Island. Without value of certain sectors, environmental racism will continue to run its course.

Looking toward the future of this fight, Huertas urged the youth of affected areas to take action. “Stand up. Just because we live in the place that we do doesn’t mean we don’t have the power to change it. Just because the pollution is there doesn’t mean we have to live with it.” No LNG in PVD demands change, and change is imminent.

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