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Thursday, September 28, 2017

ProJo reports Narragansett deal to sell Charlestown water to Burrillville power plant

Well, now Charlestown has some skin in the anti-power plant movement
By Will Collette

Related imageAccording to the Providence Journal, the deeply unpopular Invenergy proposal to build a big natural gas power plant in Burrillville just signed up Narragansett Indian Tribe as a source for required back-up water.

The ProJo also reports that local water delivery service, Benn Water, would deliver the water. 

That's water pumped inside tribal land from the aquifer that provides just about all of us with our drinking water. It would be shipped via tanker truck from one end of the state to the other.

The ProJo posted the story on-line this afternoon.

Is this true? And if so, what happens next?

I'll venture one prediction: Charlestown is about undergo a Category 5 shit-storm.

The phone lines have probably already started burning up between Town Hall and Charlestown's special anti-Narragansett lawyer Joe Larisa. There's probably a late-night meeting going on at the CCA clubhouse.

The town pays Larisa almost $25,000 a year just to watch the Tribe and to block anything the Tribe might do. CLICK HERE for Larisa's most recent 6-month billing.

I'm surprised Larisa didn't see this coming since Charlestown pays him to keep his eyes on the Tribe. If this matter goes to court, his retainer contract with the town calls for Larisa to be paid extra. 

Beyond these predictions, we have a ton of very large "Ifs."

Will the Burrillville project get built? Local opponents have done a great organizing job and have built a strong statewide network of support. I think it's fair to say that Charlestown just got drafted to play a major role in the opposition.

The opposition has also done a very good job at throwing a monkey-wrench into Inventergy's proposal before enough regulatory bodies to make me doubt this project can ever get all the required approvals. 

Securing a back-up water supply was only one of many hurdles Inventergy needed to clear.

This proposal has already been a wet dream for lawyers and if there's any substance to this story about the Narragansetts, you can throw a few more legal briefs on the fire.

When I was the national organizing director for what is now called the Center for Health and the Environment, I worked with NIMBY groups all the time. 

We had a formula for how to defeat "LULUs" (Locally Undesirable Land Uses) and the opposition to this project have been following the play book perfectly...and then some.

In my 20 years of experience in that work, I never saw a project proposal get approved that faced this kind of opposition. So I like our odds.

I have no idea what's going on inside the Narragansett Tribe and what or who is driving this far-fetched deal. 

If the idea was to get a rise out of the rest of Charlestown, they will certainly succeed at doing that.

I suspect public reaction to the Tribe selling off the contents of the aquifer we all share for this awful power plant will be even more unpopular than a revival of the legendary long-abandoned casino idea.

But this is only the first day this new challenge has become public. We'll learn more about this in the days and weeks ahead.