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Narragansett Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas says Invenergy will not be taking water from Charlestown in a letter to tribe



In a letter from Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas to the Narragansett Indian Tribe (NIT), introduced to the Rhode Island Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) this morning, Thomas claimed that the water deal he struck with Invenergy does not concern Charlestown, but instead seemed to imply that the water will be drawn from NIT property in Westerly.

“I understand that when the water agreement received media attention, most people if not all immediately assumed that this initiative would take place on the Tribe’s reservation in Charlestown RI,” wrote Thomas, “This is incorrect although the Tribe should consider putting some wells on the trust property for future purposes like fire suppression and other infrastructure updates.”

Today the EFSB rejected the Narragansett Indian Tribal Council’s motion to be an intervenor in the docket for Invenergy’s $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant. EFSB Chair Margaret Curran said approving the motion would put the EFSB in the position of taking a position on internal tribal politics, something the board lacks the ability or authority to to do. Tribal Council attorneyShannah Kurland countered that ruling against the motion is also taking a position.

Without more information, it’s difficult to know what to make of the Matthew Thomas letter. Is Thomas correct, mistaken, or trying deceive when he says no water will be taken from Charlestown to cool the turbines of a power plant in Burrillville? Will this water actually come from Westerly?

Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading.