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Judge Flanders challenges Senator Whitehouse’s power plant ‘hypocrisy’

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On Thursday, former Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice and Republican candidate for United States Senate Robert Flanders stood with the community of Burrillville and thirty-two total Rhode Island cities and towns in announcing his opposition to Invenergy‘s proposed $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning aimed at the pristine forests of Burrillville.

In a dramatic video, Flanders stands next to a wall of bricks and delivers a message to his Democratic opponent, incumbent Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, before smashing the wall of bricks with a sledgehammer and saying, “Senator Whitehouse, tear down this wall of hypocrisy and stop this fossil fuel-fired plant!”

“Senator Whitehouse claims to be an opponent of fossil fuel energy and an advocate for the environment,” continued Flanders. “And there is nowhere closer to home than right here in Burrillville. But after he pocketed over one-hundred thousand dollars from the backers of the Invenergy Power Plant, Senator Whitehouse’s opposition to fossil fuel facilities like this one has mysteriously melted away. The dark corporate and union money that he rails against has silenced him on this project.

“Compromised by the money he has received, and refusing to buck his political allegiance to Governor Raimondo, the two of them are determined to drive this power plant through to construction.”



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See: Robert Flanders in Burrillville


Here’s the full text of Flander’s speech:

I first came to Burrillville in late July to tour the site of the proposed power plant, and then attend a community forum. It was important for me to do this because this is an important issue to this community. Until I visited here and listened to the people of Burrillville, my opinion of the power plant was uninformed. If anything, I may have been inclined to support the plant. But what I have learned since has convinced me that the location of this plant in Burrillville is a bad idea.

It became apparent to me that the local community lacked an adequate role in the approval process.

First, pursuant to law, the siting board can override local concerns and objections, thereby negating the local community’s voice in the process. The law needs to be changed to allow the local community to have more input into these siting decisions.

Second, there are going to be negative environmental impacts, due to heavy truck traffic and the hauling of water and diesel fuel through residential areas that will adversely affect traffic and the quality of life in this beautiful part of the state.

The plant would also require an enormous amount of water, leaving questions about how this power plant would acquire and deliver it, along with how the siting of the plant would affect local aquifers.

I am convinced that, if this plant were to be built, beautiful Burrillville would never be the same. It would destroy hundreds of acres of pristine interior forest right next to beautiful recreational and conservation areas like George Washington Park, Pulaski Park, Buck Hill Management Area, and more, thereby forever marring the rural environment that characterizes this part of Rhode Island.

When I am your next United States Senator, there is no city or town too small to matter, and no voice is too insignificant to be heard.

Senator Whitehouse claims to be an opponent of fossil fuel energy and an advocate for the environment. And there is nowhere closer to home than right here in Burrillville. But after he pocketed over one-hundred thousand dollars from the backers of the Invenergy Power Plant, Senator Whitehouse’s opposition to fossil fuel facilities like this one has mysteriously melted away. The dark corporate and union money that he rails against has silenced him on this project.

Compromised by the money he has received, and refusing to buck his political allegiance to Governor Raimondo, the two of them are determined to drive this power plant through to construction.

To the governor, and to Senator Whitehouse, financial backers in Chicago matter more than our local communities. 36 cities and towns across Rhode Island stand with Burrillville: And now I, too, stand with Burrillville.

I ask proponents of the plan: lets re-site the plant in your backyard, with your community’s voice silenced in the process.

We will stop this plant and as your next United States Senator I will sponsor legislation that gives local communities a voice in matters of inter-state commerce, such as this one, so that their rights are never trampled on again.

Senator Whitehouse, tear down this wall of hypocrisy and stop this fossil fuel-fired plant!