The State of Rhode Island is suing 21 oil and gas producers in an attempt to force these companies to pay for road and bridge repairs caused by extreme weather.
On Twitter, the state’s junior senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, signaled support for the lawsuit, writing that the companies “aided and abetted the ‘beclouding’ of the science.”
His attack against energy producers comes during the same year Rhode Island was forced to declare a state of emergency and evacuate thousands of residents due to a shortage of natural gas during a cold snap. On January 22, Governor Gina Raimondo stated, “I’ve declared a state of emergency in Newport County and activated the National Guard to help us deal with this emergency…If you do not have heat this evening, do not stay in your homes tonight. It is not safe to stay in your home through the night.”
The natural gas shortage in Rhode Island would likely have been avoided with increased access to affordable fuel supplies. As a result of environmental concerns, in 2017, state officials balked at a proposal to meet the energy needs of Rhode Islanders by preventing an expansion of the Access Northeast pipeline. The decision was particularly astonishing considering natural gas accounts for 93 percent of Rhode Island’s electricity net generation and has been a major contributor to the reduction in CO2 emissions across the United States – 28% since 2005.
While Senator Whitehouse continues his daily attacks against energy producers on Twitter, these arguments have no potential to help his constituents who are one winter storm away from being left out in the cold.