Governor Raimondo reminded about the 1st Amendment right to protest

As Governor Gina Raimondo‘s press conference to announce her plan to increase funding for state parks and beaches came to a close, Kathy Martley of BASE (Burrillville against Spectra Expansion) rose. Martley and four other protesters had sat through the press conference carrying signs calling attention to Invenergy‘s planned $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the forests of northwest Rhode Island. Governor Raimondo initially supported Invenergy’s plan, but has taken a more neutral public stance after receiving push back from environmental groups.

The Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) is currently conducting a hearing to decide on whether or not to grant a permit to Invenergy to construct the plant. Janet Coit, the director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is an EFSB boardmember and was emceeing the press conference.

See: Raimondo seeks to expand funding for parks and beaches

“What is not being said here, is that Governor Raimondo has not come out against the proposed power plant that’s supposed to be in the middle of northern Rhode Island state parks,” said Martley. “What about our state parks? What about the Boy Scouts Camp? What about Buckhill Management? What about Burrillville, Rhode Island? What about us?

“We don’t need a power plant in the middle of our state parks.”

“Guys, we hear you,” said Raimondo. “There’s an EFSB process, that’s the appropriate place. There’s plenty of meetings…”

“We’ve been at them all,” said Sister Mary Pendergast, Ecology Director for the Sisters of Mercy. That’s true. People opposed to the power plant have attended every single hearing o the power plant, for over three years.

“That’s the appropriate place for you to…” began Raimondo.

“Everything is the appropriate place,” said protester Sally Mendzela, correcting the Governor. “This is our First Amendment right to let people know we don’t need a power plant next to parks…”

“That’s true,” said Raimondo, before turning to a scrum of reporters for additional questions. “You’re welcome to your opinion.”


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