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Matt Brown: Biomass legislation “a failure of democracy”



“I think this biomass project is very much like what we saw and what we’re seeing with the Invenergy fracked gas plant proposed for Burrillville,” said candidate Matt Brown, who is challenging Governor Gina Raimondo in the Democratic primary. “They are both sold as clean energy that is good for the environment, but they’re both dirty energy in reality, that’s harmful to the environment and to the health of Rhode Islanders.”

If passed, H8020 and its companion Senate bill will classify “biomass incineration” as a renewable source of energy under the net metering statute. According to EcoRI, who wrote about the Senate bill, “The bill was written to help the sale of electricity from a nearly 9-megawatt power plant that runs on wood chips and construction debris being built in Johnston by Mark DePasquale of Green Development LLC of North Kingstown.”

It was two years ago that the General Assembly last tried to grant DePasquale some favors for his family’s $64,000 in campaign contributions, according to the Providence Journal. Back then DePasquale was trying to shift the grid connection costs for his wind project onto ratepayers.

“This project would hurt people, it would hurt the environment and it would be bad for the state,” continued Brown. “These projects wouldn’t be even considered if it weren’t for the campaign contributions these corporations have funneled to politicians our state.”

“The only ones who benefit from these polluting, harmful projects are the corporations and the politicians to whom those corporations are funneling massive amounts of campaign contributions. But everyone else in this state is going to be hurt by it.”

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There is going to be a demonstration outside the Rhode Island State House on Tuesday, May 22 at 3:30pm in opposition to the biomass incineration bill.

“This is a failure of democracy. The best interests of the people are being ignored.”

See here for more on the biomass bill.

Governor Raimondo’s Deputy Campaign Manager David Ortiz, responded that, “there’s significant concern in the environmental community about biomass, and so the Governor has concerns. She has to learn more about this bill but at the outset it’s clear there are questions and concerns that have to be addressed.”

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.