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Rhode Island

Strategies For Climate Justice And A Just Transition

By Environmental Justice League of RI - RI Future, January 15, 2016

The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island (EJLRI) has created a brilliant position paper, “National Grid’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Liquefaction Facility: Toxic Hazards in the Port Providence: Proposals for a Just Transition” that eviscerates National Grid‘s plans to build a new liquefaction facility for fracked LNG at Fields Point in South Providence. Over the next few days RI Future will be presenting the EJLRI’s position paper in its entirety.

Solutions and Alternatives

The information presented in the previous posts show that in addition to not being necessary, National Grid’s proposed LNG Liquefaction Facility would be dangerous and would contribute to existing environmental racism. LNG Liquefaction is not needed in Rhode Island in general, and it certainly should not be placed in the most toxic and most impoverished part of the state.

The immediate solution is to stop this facility from being built. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) needs to deny National Grid LNG LLC’s application, and the RI Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) and RI Coastal Resources Management Council (RI CRMC) need to deny the state level permits.

That being said, ­ the proposed liquefaction facility is not the only problem outlined in this position paper. Even without the added significant risks of the liquefaction facility, the existing LNG storage tank, the Motiva oil terminal, the Univar chemical plant, the Enterprise LPG terminal, and other facilities in the area all pose significant environmental health hazards, and create the overall context of environmental racism. Toxic and hazardous facilities are dangerous for communities and dangerous for workers. Yet families are dependent on them for jobs, municipalities are dependent on them for tax income, and the way our socio­economic system is set up we are all collectively dependent on the products they produce. Regardless of our dependency, the reality of climate science is that the fossil fuel / petrochemical industry is rapidly pushing our planet past its limits, producing present and future catastrophic impacts, and making people sick, ­especially front-line communities of color and indigenous communities. Our dependency on these industries is literally killing us.

As an organization, the EJ League is interested in big­ picture, long­ term, real solutions to interlocking crises that impact communities of color, marginalized communities, and planetary ecosystems. We are members of three national coalitions of grassroots, membership ­based organizations: Right to the City, Grassroots Global Justice, and Climate Justice Alliance. Together, and lead by our members and our communities, we are developing and sharing solutions that address these intersecting crises from the grassroots. These community­ based solutions are in opposition to the corporate top­ down false solutions that pretend to address a single symptom while reinforcing the underlying root causes of the problems.

True solutions are rooted in the work of grassroots internationalism, and using the framework of a “Just Transition”. We are collectively building a different context and a different system, an economy for people and the planet. The Just Transition framework emerged from partnerships between environmental justice and labor organizations. In the words of the Just Transition Alliance, “together with front-line workers, and community members who live along the fence ­line of polluting industries, we create healthy workplaces and communities. We focus on contaminated sites that should be cleaned up, and on the transition to clean production and sustainable economies.”

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