Save the Bay‘s Executive Director Jonathan Stone was on the Dan Yorke television show State of Mind on October 30, where he made some remarks that outraged many in the environmental community.
In reference to Save the Bay’s opposition to Invenergy’s plans to construct a billion dollar power plant in the middle of the pristine forests of northwest Rhode Island, Dan Yorke asked Stone, “We need power. We have to supply the grid. Where do you want to put [the power plant]?” (20m25s in the video linked here)
Stone later told me that answering the question was a mistake. He is not an expert on siting power plants and he doesn’t feel it is his or Save the Bay’s job to give advice on where power plants should be sited.
“Well, one way to think about this is we have a lot of natural gas infrastructure in the state,” said Stone to Yorke. “And there are other locations in the state where you could have that infrastructure in place. For example, National Grid has a large liquified natural gas facility at Field’s Point. They’re proposing an investment there to help address Rhode Island’s natural gas needs. We have the Manchester Street Power Station which is driven by natural gas. There are other locations to put a facility like this. Obviously, it’s up to the company to make the determination about where they think they can make the plant work. We think [the forests of northwest Rhode island] is the wrong location. It’s not our job to find another location, but, if you look at the map, there are parts of the state that are already industrialized where you have natural gas infrastructure.”
On social media, there was buzz in environmental circles because what Stone said to Yorke sounded very much like he was suggesting the Port of Providence as a location for the power plant. I reached out to Stone for clarification.
Stone said, “My point was that industrialized areas exist in the state or adjacent parts of Massachusetts that could, at least in theory, represent alternative sites for the Invenergy plant.” But, he stressed when we met in person a few days later, he should not have even answered the question.
Stone is aware of the No LNG in PVD campaign and their efforts to prevent the expansion of natural gas infrastructure in the Port of Providence. We spoke in August about Save the Bay’s position on National Grid’s efforts to construct a liquefaction facility in Fields Point. Stone told me then that Save the Bay has “never staked out a position that we are against natural gas. We don’t have a position that we are against natural gas.”
One additional point: Yorke’s question assumes facts not in evidence: “We need power. We have to supply the grid. Where do you want to put [the power plant]?”
Yes, we need power. Yes, we have to supply the grid. But neither of these things mean that the power plant is needed. In fact, that’s the entire reason the Energy Facilities Siting Board is having hearings: To determine whether or not the power plant is needed. Indeed, recent disclosures from Invenergy provide compelling reasons to believe that the power plant is not needed.
Not in Rhode Island and not in New England.
Here’s Stone talking about climate change at a James Langevin event after filming his appearance on Dan Yorke’s show but before the show aired: