Ruth Platner’s Comments at the December 5 EFSB Public Hearing

The following comments were spoken by Ruth Platner at the December 5 Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) Public Hearing at the Charlestown Elementary School.

My name is Ruth Platner, I am a member of the Charlestown Planning Commission, but I am speaking for myself.

The Energy Facility Siting Board should not accept Invenergy’s proposal to withdraw groundwater from within the Town of Charlestown to satisfy any requirement for a water supply.

This application is before the Energy Facility Siting Board, but if it were an application before the Planning Commission, our Planner would stamp it incomplete and send it back to the applicant. The EFSB should do the same.

There aren’t enough hours in tonight’s meeting to list and discuss all the deficiencies in Invenergy’s water withdrawal proposal. There is simply no data, it’s missing everything except a location on a map.

But that location on the map is very problematic.

It is at the center of the Indian Cedar Swamp, an approximately 900-acre pristine, wetland. Before it was returned to the Narragansett it was a State Wildlife Management Area. No matter who owns the land, it remains a Rhode Island Natural Heritage Area.

To access the well sites will require at least a half-mile road through the wetland.

Forest in the wetland will have to be cleared at the well sites.

Pumping the well for the smallest volume of water proposed, 15,000 gallons a day, will negatively impact almost 50 acres of wetland surrounding the well. Pump more water and an even larger area will be damaged.

Has Invenergy provided the EFSB with any estimate of the total area of wetland that will be altered in Charlestown to support their power plant? Shouldn’t the EFSB have that information before you make a decision?

I don’t believe DEM would issue a wetland alteration permit for this location, and neither should the EFSB.

In the pre-filed testimony of Scott Cummings of the Rhode Island Nature Conservancy, he references maps of low light pollution on page 20 and open space connectivity on page 24. In both figures, Charlestown makes up the southern terminus of this important conservation corridor that connects the ocean in Charlestown with the forests of Burrillville.

The forest fragmentation and wetland impacts that would take place in the Indian Cedar Swamp to support the power plant with water will add to the cumulative damage to this irreplaceable corridor.

Rhode Island is small and densely populated, our remaining open space is not just necessary to wildlife, but it is critical to the long-term economy of the state.

Energy sprawl at both ends of this important conservation and recreation corridor will cause unacceptable harm to the environment and will damage the socio-economic fabric of our state.

And that is just one of many problems with this water withdrawal proposal. Over the next 90 days you’ll hear a lot more.

Ruth Platner
Ruth Platner

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