Governor Raimondo declines to sign No Fossil Fuel Money
“Raimondo has always been quick to tweet and praise us when she can, but she fails to use her power, as the Governor of Rhode Island, to enact policies that will protect us from the imminent climate crisis. She hides behind her words, behind her tweets, and does the bare minimum. Fossil fuel interests continue to control her every day decisions and every single Rhode Islander is suffering because of it. But why is Raimondo doing this? This is because Gina Raimondo has taken over half a million dollars from the fossil fuel industry…“
Just after 7pm on Friday evening the Rhode Island State Police and Capitol Police arrested 14 young people for trespass after they failed to leave the Rhode Island State House. The protesters were a small part of a large rally and march organized by Sunrise Providence as part of a National Climate Strike that began at Memorial Park in Providence and made its way to the State House by 2:30. The action was part of the Global December 6th Climate Strike with marches and protests around the world.
After deciding to stay past the State House closing time of 4:30pm and risk arrest, Sunrise Providence was informed that the Capitol Police had decided to push the closing time to 7pm. So the activists waited, undeterred.
WATCH: Despite, our peaceful efforts, State Police arrested some of our members.— Sunrise Providence ? (@sunrise_PVD) December 7, 2019
@GovRaimondo your refusal to sign a simple pledge refusing “Fossil Fuel” money caused this. #GenGND pic.twitter.com/8epToMZEHF
The action by Sunrise Providence was directed at Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, who, despite numerous asks and actions by the group, has so far refused to sign the No Fossil Fuel Pledge or to endorse a state version of the New Green Deal. Specifically, the activists wanted Raimondo to sign onto the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge. In a press release the group writes:
Governor Raimondo has taken $500,000 in campaign contributions tied to the fossil fuel industry. This includes maximum donations from the CEO and founder of Invenergy, the President and Vice President of National Grid in Rhode Island, and the billionaire chairwoman of Samson Energy Company. National Grid and Invenergy both have had active plans to build fossil fuel infrastructure in the state in the past year — Raimondo supported both of these projects despite strong local opposition and their implications for human health and the climate crisis.
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Sunrise Providence confronted Governor Raimondo with these facts at a Boston Globe sponsored event on the future of Rhode Island in November, asking “Why do you continue to take money from fossil fuel companies?”
“I don’t. I haven’t and I don’t,” said Raimondo.
Earlier on Friday, before the action, Sunrise Providence activists met with Governor Raimondo to ask her to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge. They were told, according to Sunrise Providence, that the Governor “would look into it this afternoon.” Rather than sign the pledge, Raimondo released a short statement sidestepping the issue and touting her environmental record.
“As I told the leaders I met with earlier today,” said Raimondo in her statement, “I will sign any bill that takes a productive approach to keeping Rhode Island at the forefront of fighting climate change.”
Raimondo’s statement does not jive with the experience of many state environmental leaders. On Wednesday Conservation Law Foundation Senior Attorney Jerry Elmer, the former executive director of the Environmental Council of Rhode Island, said to a small audience that, “in Rhode Island we have a governor who not only supported this plant for Burrillville, from beginning to end, even when it was clear the plan was going down, we have a governor in Rhode Island who promised in the last election – in writing – to support a statewide climate bill with mandatory, legally enforceable carbon emission reductions, and when that bill was in the General Assembly this past session, she reneged on that promise.” The bill Elmer was referring to was the Global Warming Solutions Act that would have provided for mandatory, legally enforceable carbon emissions reductions.
The Sunrise Providence activists emphasized “that this fight isn’t over and that they will come back to continue to push for stronger action on climate.”
The next climate strike is scheduled to be in April coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Additional strikes and rallies were held in Westerly and Kingston.
Activists arrived at Memorial Park in dramatic fashion:
The march began with dancing:
“Politicians across the world cheered, tweeted and praised us for our work, for our action. Even our own Governor Gina Raimondo said that she was ‘inspired to see so many young people here in Rhode Island and across the nation making their voices heard.’
“But praise alone will not protect us. Praise alone cannot create change. Only transforming our entire economy and society can.
“Raimondo has always been quick to tweet and praise us when she can, but she fails to use her power, as the Governor of Rhode Island, to enact policies that will protect us from the imminent climate crisis. She hides behind her words, behind her tweets, and does the bare minimum.
“Fossil fuel interests continue to control her every day decisions and every single Rhode Islander is suffering because of it. But why is Raimondo doing this? This is because Gina Raimondo has taken over half a million dollars from the fossil fuel industry…”
Scenes from the march through the streets of Providence:
After arriving at the Rhode Island State House, Sunrise Providence held a rally outside, while others entered the building.
“Our brave friends have pledged to stay in the State House as long as it takes, even all night! They’re not going to leave until Raimondo agrees to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge! It’s not just a pledge to stop taking fossil fuel money. It’s a pledge to prioritize Rhode Islanders everywhere!”
Signing the pledge “is the vital first step necessary if we want to take the bold and urgent action necessary to stop the climate crisis!”
25-year old Everett Pope has announced his intention to run for a position on the Pawtucket School Board. He spoke about the importance of young people getting out and voting.
Inside the State House:
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