As of this writing, four more elected state representatives, Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Providence), Marcia Ranglin-Vassel (Democrat, District 5, Providence), John Lombardi (Democrat, District 8, Providence) and Susan Donovan (Democrat, District 69, Bristol) signed onto a NoLNGinPVD petition yesterday calling for the resignation of Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) Chair Jennifer Cervenka‘s immediate resignation “due to the bias Ms. Cervenka has demonstrated during the process of National Grid‘s application for assent and federal consistency, her violation of due process and free speech during that process, and her undisclosed conflicts of interest.” This brings the total number of state legislators calling for Cervenka’s resignation to six, as previously both Senator Jeanine Calkin (Democrat, District 30, Warwick) and Representative Grace Diaz (Democrat, District 11, Providence) signed.
In addition, groups such as Women’s March RI, the Whale Guitar Project, Climate Action RI / RI 350, Sierra Club, the FANG Collective, Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), Mercy Ecology, South Coast Neighbors United, Our Revolution RI, White Noise Collective and Resist Hate RI have all signed onto the petition.
Governor Gina Raimondo‘s office has not replied to repeated request for comment on this issue. Raimondo appointed Cervenka to the CRMC earlier in the year, in an abrupt move that saw the removal of three environmentalists from the Council.
Paul Roselli, who has announced his intention to challenge Raimondo in the Democratic primary for governor, has called for an inquiry into Raimondo’s appointments to the CRMC and supports the call for Cervenka’s resignation.
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“The CRMC is currently involved in hearing a controversial proposal for a Liquid National Gas (LNG) facility in a Providence neighborhood and there must be confidence in the process. The group opposing the project, NoLNGinPVD, have listed a series of potential conflicts of interest of the new chair. They point out that Attorney Cervenka represented oil and chemical companies against government regulatory bodies. That is a bias in favor of polluters and against regulatory enforcement actions. They have also presented evidence of bias during the proceedings.
“Their call for Cervenka’s resignation should be the first step in changing the CRMC, but Cervenka’s resignation, on it’s own is not enough. The removal of committee members who were environmental experts and their replacement with potential industry insiders just prior to these hearings strikes me as far too convenient. The Governor has never given a satisfactory explanation as to why Anne Maxwell Livingston, Paul Beaudette and Tony Affigne were removed from the committee. The suspicion from the community is that this is a fix. Was the Governor aware of Cervenka’s background when making the appointment and why did the Governor remove people from the CMRC? Because they didn’t vote the right way the Governor wanted? This process of ignoring the people the Governor serves is endemic in this administration and the General Assembly should begin an Inquiry into the appointments to the CRMC.”
The next CRMC hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, December 12 from 5 – 8PM in the Department of Administration Cafeteria at One Capitol Hill Providence, RI 02908, across from the State House.
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