2010-11-18 / News

Reed discusses elections, the wind turbine and LNG during visit to island

By Tim Riel

Sen. Jack Reed addresses the crowd at a Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11 at the Veterans Memorial Square at East Ferry. Reed was a captain in the U.S. Army and served in the 82nd Airborne Division as an infantry platoon leader. He was also in the 325th Infantry Regiment as a company commander and as a battalion staff officer. After leaving active duty in 1979, Reed was a member of the U.S. Army reserve until 1991. Photo by Jeff McDonough Sen. Jack Reed addresses the crowd at a Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11 at the Veterans Memorial Square at East Ferry. Reed was a captain in the U.S. Army and served in the 82nd Airborne Division as an infantry platoon leader. He was also in the 325th Infantry Regiment as a company commander and as a battalion staff officer. After leaving active duty in 1979, Reed was a member of the U.S. Army reserve until 1991. Photo by Jeff McDonough It was a brisk day, but Sen. Jack Reed was happy to be on the island. It was Veterans Day and Reed, who rose to the rank of captain after spending eight years of active duty with the U.S. Army, was scheduled to speak at Jamestown’s annual observance at Veterans Memorial Square at East Ferry.

“It’s very nice out,” Reed said, following his breakfast at Slice of Heaven. A resident of Jamestown, the senator knows the island. “There’s a stiff breeze, but the flag is flying proudly. This is a great community and it’s great to see people coming together to thank our veterans. We should take note of the widespread appreciation.”

Before the ceremony was to start, Reed talked about the elections, Rhode Island’s economy, and even tackled issues that hit closer to home like the LNG controversy and the wind-turbine debates.

After nearly a clean sweep of Rhode Island’s 2010 General Elections – Independent Lincoln Chaffe was the only non-Democrat to be elected – Reed spoke about the success of his party.

“I think it was a very strong showing for many of the candidates,” Reed said. “I was particularly pleased at the campaign that David Cicilline ran.”

Cicilline, currently the mayor of Providence, defeated state Rep. John Loughlin to win Rhode Island’s first congressional district seat that will be vacated by retiring Patrick Kennedy.

“He worked hard and was very organized,” Reed said about Cicilline. “He’ll bring in a lot of insight.”

Reed also praised Jim Langevin on being elected for the third time to the House of Representatives as the U.S. representative for Rhode Island’s second congressional district. “[He], of course, is someone who served with such distinction and he is well respected on both sides of the aisle.”

And that respect might go a long way, as Reed mentions the biggest obstacle facing Congress right now: “I think first there is going to be the critical issue that will involve cooperation with a Republican House and Democratic Senate.”

Reed believes one primary goal of the two Houses of Congress should be similar, and that is unemployment facing the country. “There is a huge set of issues facing the county. First we have to get people back to work and make a transition to get out of this defective [economy].”

Reed also discussed Frank Caprio’s comments that he made in the gubernatorial election when, after learning that President Barack Obama wouldn’t be endorsing him during his trip to Rhode Island, told the president to take his endorsement and “shove it.”

“There is a certain respect that [office of the president] should command,” Reed said. “Whether it’s President Obama or George Bush, you can be critical, but it has to be respectful.”

Reed admitted that he was disappointed by Caprio’s comments, but he commended him for admitting that he did not chose his words wisely and for being apologetic following the comment.

As for the governor-elect of Rhode Island, Reed was pleasantly optimistic about the bipartisan Chafee. “Lincoln is a man of great integrity and great dedication. He’ll make tough calls. I also think he will look for cooperation and that I think that is important in facing the issues; creating jobs and making investments in Rhode Island but at same time trying to eliminate costs.”

Reed said that Chafee “has a significant challenge” ahead of him.

Although Reed tackles the huge challenges this country has to face from his Senate seat in Washington, D.C., he is genuinely interested in the issues directly facing Jamestown. The two biggest controversies surrounding the island community right now are what to do about the construction of a wind turbine with federal grant money, and the proposed LNG terminal in Mount Hope Bay.

Reed, who is a proponent of alternative energy and limited oil use, believes that if all the parties included can agree on the terms and location, a wind turbine can be much more than just a source of energy. He says that the sight of a wind turbine is like a “symbol of something good.”

He understands the difficulty with site determination for the wind turbine, calling it “critical,” but added, “there is a need for alternative energy all across the state.”

As for the LNG issue, Reed, along with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, is decidedly opposed.

The proposal is by Weaver’s Cove and Hess for a liquefied natural gas terminal to be built in Fall River. It would contain 4.2 miles of cryogenic pipeline, which Whitehouse once described as “untested technology.” In a meeting last year concerning the proposal, Whitehouse said that it would put Narragansett Bay at risk, which is the “heart of Rhode Island.”

“We don’t think it’s a wise proposal,” Reed said. “Sen. Whitehouse and I will write to federal authorities and have them look very seriously into this proposal.”

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