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Rhode Island Attorney General files in support of CLF in Invenergy water case

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“Perhaps the oldest branch of conservation law is the law of fresh water allocation. It is inherently the preoccupation of that body of jurisprudence that the long-term sustainability of a collective vital resource not be squandered in the individual or parochial fulfillment of short-sighted impulses,” writes Gregory Schultz, special assistant to the Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. “This is why the framers of the 1915 Act (the statute at the center of this case) employed particular wording that incorporates the ancient restraining principles found in water law.”

Kilmartin’s office today filed and amicus brief in support of Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and the Town of Burrillville‘s contention that Invenergy‘s contract with the Town of Johnston to buy water and truck it to the proposed $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the pristine forests of northwest Rhode Island is illegal.

The plan is for Johnston to allow Benn Water to fill its tankers in Johnston and transport the water by truck to Burrillville. Johnston buys its water from Providence Water Supply Board, which gets its water from Scituate Reservoir.

“Thus,” continues the brief, “the 1915 Act effectively ensures the preservation of a resource for all persons. In the event of a drought, the other users of the Scituate Reservoir (the finite resource implicated in this case) would suffer from Johnston’s ultra vires contracting-away of the contested water.

“Indeed, such diversion would be detrimental to the State as a whole. In order to prevent that scenario and ensure an adequate and long-lasting water supply, the General Assembly included the limiting purpose clause in the 1915 Act. For the same reason, the Attorney General hereby submits this amicus memorandum.”


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Earlier this week CLF filed its Memorandum of Law opposing Invenergy’s and Johnston’s Motion for Summary Judgment in the Rhode Island Superior Court.


Oral argument on the Motion for Summary Judgment will be held on Monday, August 20, at 9:30 AM, in Judge Michael Silverstein’s courtroom in the Licht Courthouse, 250 Benefit Street (3rd floor). The hearing is open to the public.


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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 half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading. atomicsteve@gmail.com