EcoRI: 2018 R.I. Primary: Candidate Profiles for Lt. Gov.
Compiled by TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
The Rhode Island primary is scheduled for Sept. 12, and eight candidates are running for Daniel McKee’s lieutenant governor seat, including the incumbent.
ecoRI News sent each candidate a 10-question primary preview focused on environmental issues related to Rhode Island. Five candidates didn’t respond.
Here is a look at Rhode Island’s Lt. Gov. primary (candidates listed in alphabetical order):
WILLIAM E. BEELEY JR.
There is no contact information for Beeley.
Offices held: Lt. gov. 2014-present; mayor of Cumberland 2000-2014
McKee’s campaign didn't respond to our questions.
Offices held: House of Representative 2015-present
What do you consider the top environmental issue facing Rhode Island? The climate crisis threatens every aspect of our lives. It’s impacting our coasts and all the parts of our economy tied to the bay. It is increasing dangerous storms and flooding throughout our state. It threatens our health across the board. Our state needs to step up to address this crisis head-on, and I’m excited to continue fighting for bold climate action to build a sustainable energy future in Rhode Island for all of us.
What is your position on the proposed Burrillville power plant? I’m proud to have been the first state elected official to stand up and oppose this dangerous project, and to have been engaged in the organizing against it from the beginning. All the science says we should not be doubling down on fracked-gas infrastructure, to say nothing of the economics. We don’t produce any fossil fuels in Rhode Island, so every dollar we spend on imported fracked gas and oil is a dollar we are sending out of Rhode Island, to Pennsylvania or Texas or Saudi Arabia. By taking our clean-energy resources to scale, we can lower energy costs and put thousands of Rhode Islanders to work at the same time.
What is your position on the proposed natural gas liquefaction facility at the Port of Providence? I have also been active in speaking out against the Fields Point LNG proposal from day one. National Grid is asking that we — the ratepayers — spend countless millions of our dollars to create this facility, located right in the heart of a community that shoulders more than its fair share of toxic infrastructure already, so that National Grid can increase their profits by exporting more LNG.
Do you believe in anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change? Yes, and I am committed to fighting for bold climate action, as I have done in my four years in the House of Representatives.
Do you agree with the assessment by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that under the worst-case scenario sea-level rise in Rhode Island could reach between 9 feet and 11.5 feet by 2100?Yes. We’re talking about an absolute cataclysm for our state, and we need to start acting with urgency to address it.
What role should your office play in addressing climate-change adaptation and mitigation? I believe Rhode Island needs to launch a Green New Deal with major investments that will put thousands of Rhode Islanders to work taking renewable energy and climate mitigation infrastructure to scale. To amass the political capital necessary for such an ambitious proposal, we need to build a powerful coalition with the necessary political capital to overcome the entrenched fossil-fuel interests that hold so much sway at the Statehouse. I am excited to use the bully pulpit, convening authority, and staff resources of the lieutenant governor’s office to help build that blue-green alliance between the environmental movement, the labor movement, and other relevant constituencies that we’ll need to launch that Green New Deal.
Would you support a state or regional carbon tax? I have been the lead sponsor and advocate on our Energize Rhode Island carbon pricing proposal each year I’ve been in the legislature, and look forward to continuing to elevate this fight as lieutenant governor.
Do you support a statewide ban on plastic checkout bags or other bans on plastics? Absolutely, and have co-sponsored this legislation in the General Assembly. It’s also important that the planning around these measures be rooted in environmental justice concerns that put working families and vulnerable Rhode Islanders front and center.
What is your stance on the use of open space for building new wind and solar energy projects? I believe we should be increasing our investment in sustainable renewable-energy production here in Rhode Island. It is also very important that this development is done in ways that are healthy and fair for our communities and our green space, which is why I support amending some of our clean-energy programs to incentivize projects on brownfield sites, industrial areas, parking lots over green space.
Do you support smart-growth development? Absolutely.