A few Burrillville residents and climate change activists staged a sit-in at Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s office in downtown Providence this morning. They want him to oppose the expansion of an existing natural gas pipeline system.
Spectra Energy's proposed expansion is designed to give the Algonquin Gas Transmission pipeline from New York more capacity to help meet Southern New England’s immediate and future natural gas demands. It would require the upgrade of six compression stations, including one in Burrillville.
Kathleen Martley participated in the sit-in. Martley lives in Pascoag in the house where her parents raised her, about half a mile away from the Burriville compressor station. She’s concerned about the proposed project’s environmental health effects.
“I have chronic asthma. I’ve had it since I was young. And then the neighbors next door—they’re complaining since the mother and father moved in, that’s when she’s had respiratory problems. We’re not sure if that’s the cause, but we are close to it, half a mile is really pretty close to it.”
Local residents have other concerns related to air and water quality. Dan Fischer, a climate activist from New Haven, Conn., participated in the sit-in to support Burrillville residents.
“Senator Whitehouse claims to be a climate champion, then why is he supporting this fossil fuel infrastructure? Why is he supporting methane gas and fracking? These are not good for the climate and they are not good for RI residents.”
Senators Whitehouse and Jack Reed wrote a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that would approve the project, requesting a public comment meeting in Rhode Island. That meeting is scheduled for Sept. 16 in Mapleville.
Whitehouse issued a statement saying he welcomes the opportunity to listen to residents’ concerns. He said he generally supports the short-term expansion of natural gas in New England to ease increasing energy prices in the winter and serve as bridge fuel until more renewable energy comes online.
Public comment meeting information:
Crystal Lake Golf Club
100 Bronco Highway
Mapleville, RI 02839