BURRILLVILLE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dozens of local activists and residents opposed to a proposed Burrillville power plant ended their three-day march against the project on Monday.
Opponents of the proposed power plant finished their 23-mile journey from the State House to Burrillville High School Monday – where Governor Gina Raimondo held a meeting to hear from residents who have opinions on the project.
“Once the governor hears from residents it’s going to be hard for her to support the project,” said Nick Katkevich, co-founder of FANG (Fighting Against Natural Gas).
Katkevich and Kathy Martley both spearhead groups opposing the fossil fuel power plant. They say they’re concerned about the environmental impacts it will have on Burrillville and the entire state.
“This power plant will put out the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions of over 700,000 cars a year on the road,” Katkevich said.
Martley belongs to the group Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion.
“It will impact everyone, like I said, it’s not just Burrillville’s backyard it’s everybody’s backyard,” she added.
Raimondo’s office told Eyewitness News she was invited by the residents to visit the community.
“The point of tonight, for me, is to be here in the community and to spend time with people and hear their concerns,” she said.
Many who addressed the governor raised concerns of pollution to the air and water – and some recounted when Pascoag’s wells were shuttered upon the discovery of the cancer-causing gasoline additive MBTE in 2001.
Some said Burrillville’s already doing its share with a Spectra energy compressor station. Most spoke out against the plant, but two rose in support of it – and they faced boos from the crowd.
Those who spoke with Eyewitness News after the meeting said they felt Raimondo truly heard their concerns.
“I was watching her very closely, her body language, I felt that she actually listened,” said resident Sally Medzela.
“You could see the body language, she took down quite a bit of notes, as well as her staff, I think it was quite productive,” added resident Frank Silva.
Erin Olkowski said she felt like being able to speak directly to Raimondo was a big deal for the town.
According to Raimondo, it is her job to balance worries about health, safety and the environment – with energy costs and job creation.
She also reminded the crowd that she does not have a vote on the Energy Committee Sitting board, which will ultimately decide whether the land in Burrillville is fit for the power plant.