Artist's rendering of the Clear River Energy Center in Burrillville, Rhode Island. Image: Invenergy Thermal Development LLC

Narragansett Tribe withdraws controversial water supply agreement

The Narragansett Tribe has withdrawn from a controversial water supply agreement that was questioned by its citizens.

Documents posted by Uprise RI show the deal was terminated on Friday. John Brown, the tribe's historic preservation officer, said controversy from within the Narragansett community was a significant factor in his decision to end the arrangement.

“At this juncture, despite our mutual best intentions, it seems clear that the continued existence of the Water Supply Agreement will do nothing other than to feed this controversy," Brown wrote in the letter posted by Uprise RI.

The agreement called for water to be trucked from the Narragansett Reservation to the Clear River Energy Center, a proposed power plant about 45 miles away. The water was only to be used as a backup supply, but the tribe would still have received payments whether or not any water was taken from the reservation, Brown previously told Indianz.Com.

Brown, who also serves as a medicine man, also defended his decision to sign the deal despite complaints from citizens that it should have been put to a vote of the people. He previously told Indianz.Com that his office retains authority under tribal and traditional law to enter into such types of agreements.

Tribal citizens, however, said they have been kept in the dark by Brown amid an internal leadership dispute. Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas, the highest-ranking elected official on the reservation, has faced questions about his eligibility to hold office, resulting in impeachment disputes and disputed proceedings in tribal court. Elections are supposed to take place this year.

“We fully respect the Narragansett Indian Tribe’s request to terminate our water supply agreement. It is unfortunate that this agreement, which would have brought much-needed new revenue to the tribe, has been undermined by the unfair criticism of tribal leaders by project opponents," Invenergy Thermal Development LLC, the backer of the $1 billion power plant, said in a statement to The Providence Journal. "The water supply agreement with the tribe provided a secondary back-up water source and therefore, this decision will not impact our water supply plan.”

Read More on the Story:
Narragansett Indian Tribe contract with Invenergy is terminated (Uprise RI January 22, 2018)
Narragansett Tribe nixes deal to provide water for proposed Burrillville power plant (The Providence Journal January 22, 2018)
Invenergy Ends Water Deal With Narragansett Indian Tribe (Rhode Island Public Radio January 22, 2018)

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