Raimondo administration caught silencing RI Department of Health – environmental racism

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DeSmog obtained emails and other documents that show that the administration of Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo instructed the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) to refrain from urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to widen the scope of its environmental assessment of the Fields Point natural gas liquefaction facility proposed by National Grid.

This finding fits perfectly with the Raimondo administration’s longtime goal, expressed in April of 2015, as the governor was about to meet with New England governors to discuss “regional energy infrastructure challenges.” At that time, Governor Raimondo stated:

“I am committed to moving ahead with cost-effective, regional energy infrastructure projects – including expansion of natural gas capacity – that will improve our business climate and create new opportunities for Ocean State workers.”

The realization of this goal came closer when Governor Raimondo welcomed Invenergy‘s founder and CEO Michael Polsky to Rhode Island with his plan to build a fossil-fuel power plant in Burrillville. The governor said:

“I know you have choices about where you could be and I’m pleased you’ve chosen Rhode Island and you should know we are going to make sure that you are successful here.”

Unfortunately, the report by DeSmog also fits with the systematic disrespect that the Raimondo administration shows for federal laws governing environmental justice. As the Environmental Protection Agency explains:

Fair treatment means no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.

Of course, this disrespect for the law is no news; see, for instance:

Former CRMC member Tony Affigne on environmental racism and the use of police power at CRMC meetings

Research published on March 11 in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences shows that, on average, black and Hispanic minorities bear a disproportionate burden from the air pollution caused mainly by non-Hispanic whites. As the authors of this study comment:

Our results are timely, given public debate on issues relating to race, equity, and the regulation of pollution.

Timely indeed!

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About Peter Nightingale 12 Articles
Peter Nightingale is a theoretical physicist and teaches at the University of Rhode Island. He strives to leave behind a more just, peaceful, and sustainable post-capitalist world for future generations, and for his children and grandchildren in particular.


  1. Would a similar open records request for DEM and the RI Division of Statewide Planning reveal a similar attempts by Governor Raimondo to influence those agencies to write “Opinions” requested by the Energy Facilities Siting Board that are favorable to the Invenergy power plant? Statewide Planning’s “Opinion” is a slapdash endorsement of the plant, while DEM’s is larded with ambiguity that, on balance, favors approval of the plant.

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