Opinion: Vermont Gas should have sincere talk with neighbors

In response to the letter from Don Gilbert, president and CEO of Vermont Gas Systems, South Burlington, in the May 22 edition of the Independent:
We agree. Vermonters are passionate. This is especially true when their rights and their land are to be taken away for the corporate profit margin of a single company in New York State.
It won’t be cheaper for long and this is the reason for the push to get it done so fast. Events in the Ukraine, Russia, China and elsewhere mark the beginning of the opening of the world market to natural gas and to the competitive pricing we have already experienced in oil.
And that $45 million figure that Vermonters are supposed to save — well if we read the contract with IP, that’s over a 27- and a 55-year period. There is no windfall here. And what if IP were to go out of business? Who pays for the pipe then? Will Vermont ratepayers be stuck?
We stand to lose as many as we could gain. Pipelines put local people out of work. Their livelihoods are replaced by person-less automated infrastructure.
And IP, they won’t reveal their financial records. Do we really know how they’re doing? And those logger jobs in Vermont — might they just do business with another paper company?
Eighty percent of the property taxes from the pipe go directly to the state. The 20 percent gain is easily offset by the loss in personal property values to homeowners and to its negative effect on our grand lists.
Upwind from us, methane is much dirtier, and here at the IP plant only 47 percent of its fuel is to be replaced with the gas. Twenty-three percent cleaner of 47 percent is only about 10-12 percent cleaner overall. Also, the pipe has a huge capacity and any increase in savings could lead to more production, which leads to even more pollution. (Check out that growing sludge bed at the plant.)
Potential catastrophic risks to our environment and lake over the next 75 years make this a toss-up at best.
Well, we are supposed to be permitting only Phase Two this year. If Rutland wants gas, let them finance it, not Cornwall and Shoreham.
Governmental lobbying efforts have made it difficult for the people’s wishes to be addressed. This was made all too clear at the recent Climate Change Conference at Middlebury College, where all our elected representatives lined up to pat themselves on their backs.
Well, I suggest that instead of more open houses, more pop-up ads on the Web, and more half-page ads in the paper, that the gas company sponsor an actual debate. No more one-liners please. A commonsense discussion will do. What do you say, Don? I welcome the invitation.
Norton Latourelle

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