Opinion: Natural gas pipeline won’t enhance public good

What kind of project qualifies for a “certificate of public good”?
A project that provides a boost to the local economy could enhance “the public good,” if it created new jobs, particularly in a low-employment area. A project that provides infrastructure that enhances the functioning of the community in some way, such as a highway that improves the traffic flow.
Section 248 lists the prerequisites for issuance of a certificate of public good. It states: “Before the public service board shall issue a certificate of public good, it shall find that the construction: is required to meet the need for present and future demand for service” and “will not have an undue adverse effect on esthetics, historic sites, air and water purity, the natural environment and the public health and safety.”
This proposed pipeline project would not provide needed jobs in our community. Nor would it enhance the functioning of our community. It is not required to meet a demand for service in Vermont. And it could have a disastrous effect on public health and safety, air and water purity, and the natural environment.
Our right to own and control private property is fundamental to our way of life. Any time we violate this standard by using eminent domain, we must be passionately and unequivocally convinced that the benefits of the project justify a sacrifice of this nature.
But exactly where are these benefits? Our community has no natural need for a gas pipeline. The project didn’t arise out of concern for our quality of life. The truth is that our land is needed for a project that others would benefit from and our landowners would pay for — with their loss of autonomy, privacy, property values, peace of mind and, possibly, their own safety.
How can we provide a Vermont certificate of public good for a project that provides 99 percent of its benefit to an out-of-state private corporation, while posing such risk to our public health and safety? It doesn’t add up. It certainly doesn’t sound anything like “public good” as defined by the law.
Linda Anderson Krech

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