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Attorney General petitions to intervene in proposed LPG facility expansion in Port of Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that his office has filed a motion to intervene in Energy Facility Siting Board Docket No. SB-2021-03, which involves a proposed expansion and associated increase in operations at a Liquified Propane Gas (LPG) facility that could affect the nearby community already burdened by the co-location of industrial operations and associated air pollution.

Sea 3 Providence has petitioned for a declaratory order from the Rhode Island Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) that its proposed expansion to allow for import of LPG by rail does not require a full application or review by the EFSB because it is not an "alteration to a major energy facility."

"The regulatory oversight of energy facilities in our state, including their growth and activities, is necessary because of the direct impacts that those facilities have on our environment, health, and public safety," said Attorney General Neronha. That oversight is especially critical in communities that have historically borne an unfair share of Rhode Island's pollution, like the communities surrounding the Port of Providence.

"The proposal to expand a liquified propane gas facility to include shipments by railway and additional storage tanks warrants a full review by the EFSB, which would ensure an adequate evaluation of things like the impact to air quality, public safety, and welfare of the community. And equally important a full review would provide impacted communities an opportunity to be heard."

As detailed in the motion to intervene, the Attorney General opposes approval of the proposed expansion of this facility without a full review by the EFSB. A full review would evaluate potential environmental impacts that may result from a significant increase in diesel emissions within the Port of Providence area. This area is already overly burdened with polluting industrial activities and truck traffic, and the potential growth in operations encourages and supports greater use of fossil fuels. In addition to appearing inconsistent with Rhode Island's long-term climate change goals, the proposal raises public safety concerns.

Background

Sea 3 Providence plans to incorporate an adjacent vacant lot into the daily operation of its existing terminal to acquire LPG by rail, in addition to its current means of obtaining supply from marine vessels. The proposal also seeks to install piping and equipment to allow for the offloading of LPG rail shipments into six proposed new 90,000-gallon horizontal storage bullet tanks on the adjacent vacant property. These rail shipments would arrive daily and increase the facility's ability to fuel trucks, potentially resulting in additional pollution and congestion to the Port area.

State law requires a full application and approval from the EFSB if the expansion is an "alteration" to the existing facility. According to Rhode Island General Law 42-98-3(b), an "alteration" is "a significant modification to a major energy facility, which, as determined by the board, will result in a significant impact on the environment, or the public health, safety, and welfare."

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