Despite outcry over conflict of interest, racial bias, and growing calls for resignation of the Chairperson, the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) is proceeding with the third and final consistency hearing for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility that National Grid proposes to build in South Providence. A growing list of elected officials, organizations, and community members are calling for the resignation of CRMC Council Chair Jennifer Cervenka, who is scheduled to preside over the hearing and the ensuing vote.
State Senator Jeanine Calkin (Democrat, District 30, Warwick), who is Secretary of the Senate committee overseeing CRMC appointments, is joined by State Representatives Grace Diaz, Aaron Regunberg, Marcia Ranglin-Vassel, Susan Donovan, John Lombardi, Providence Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune and Pawtucket Councilwoman Meghan Kallman. Twenty Eight organizations and networks and over 350 community members have endorsed the call for resignation over the past week. The full list is available here.
A complaint citing conflict of interest has been filed with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission, calling for an investigation into Ms. Cervenka’s involvement with National Grid while serving as CRMC Council Chair. The petition calling for her resignation also cites violation of due process and demonstration of racial bias during the first two public hearings, and a history of representing corporations against enforcement actions by DEM and EPA.
The first hearing, on November 14, consisted of testimony from National Grid’s lawyer and consultants about the project, with few challenges from the CRMC Council, followed by public testimony, and the second consisted largely of public testimony. According to a statement by Ms Cervenka at the close of the second hearing on November 28, this third hearing will allow National Grid an opportunity to rebut public comment. The Council also declared its intention to vote on the LNG project’s consistency with state regulations at the upcoming hearing.
The public has provided ample evidence that National Grid’s proposed LNG facility does not meet the requirements of the CRMC, if a vote does happen at this hearing, in favor of the facility it demonstrates the inability of the CRMC to uphold their own regulations.
The petition calling for Ms Cervenka’s resignation has been signed by 8 elected officials, 28 organizations and coalitions, and over 300 individuals. As of this release, Ms Cervenka has not made any public response to the calls for her resignation.
The hearing is scheduled for 5pm on Tuesday, December 12th, at the Administrative Building, One Capitol Hill, Providence.