Opinion: Clean energy technology should trump pipeline plan

Did you know that Green Mountain Power is owned by Gaz Metro, a Canadian corporation? Gaz Metro is the same corporation that owns Vermont Gas Systems. VGS keeps infiltrating my computer and local newspaper with advertisements, promising much. What is reality? What is truth? There are citizens of Vermont who are dependent on Gaz Metro for their electricity AND their heating. I thought Bernie Sanders was concerned about large corporations taking over the rights of some of us human beings.
Did you know that “six new England governors, last year, agreed to launch a bidding process to attract imports of Canadian renewable power and natural gas with a ratepayer-backed guaranteed return on investment? … A renewable energy trade association (wants ) to help southern New England states meet growing demands for cleaner power … Two transmission developers are working on proposals to bring hydropower from Canada and wind power from New York under Lake Champlain to Vermont substations.” (VT Digger, “Renewable Energy Group Backs Vermont as Transmission Corridor”, John Herrick, 4/22/2014)
On May 14, I sat in McCullough auditorium at the Middlebury College Energy Summit. Our political leaders from the state of Vermont, all in one room, feeling good and proud of how we, as a state, are moving along this path of sustainability. I heard Mary Powell, from Green Mountain Power, owned by Gaz Metro, say, “I am Vermont proud”; that we, in Vermont, are resilient. Energy committees in towns in Vermont are making great strides with solar power and making our homes more energy efficient. Citizens of Vermont are creative. One of Sen. Leahy’s jokes was the truthful statement, in the midst of the unknowns in our future, one thing we can be sure of, is that cows will defecate. Methane digesters produce electricity. Sen. Sanders thought that we, in Vermont, are taking actions to address the problem. Congressman Peter Welch believes we are “doers”; that we can develop a clean energy economy. Gov. Peter Shumlin believes we can move off our addiction to oil. He boasted that he “gets” climate change. U.S. Secretary of Energy Moniz understands that Vermont “walks the talk.” The clean energy agenda needs to involve cost reduction, cost reduction, and cost reduction. And yes, Secretary Moniz repeated that quality three times.
The question and answer part of the Energy Summit program was short changed. Secretary Moniz’s line of reasoning for pushing the “natural gas” pipeline on Addison County went like this: “Natural gas is cleaner than coal. Natural gas is a low carbon bridge.”
My response to Secretary Moniz: We, in Vermont, have found and will find ways to produce energy that are cleaner than coal, and not depend on natural gas. I call this community-based work, our green mountain power. Let us dispel this myth of the “natural” gas bridge being absolutely crucial. As Bill McKibben put it so well in his letter in the Addison Independent, June 9, 2014, “Why do we want to install new fossil infrastructure that will stretch out our dependence on hydrocarbons for another generation or two? Wouldn’t we be better off investing in a renewable infrastructure?” Who is making money from this “natural” gas pipeline project? In the long run, in the long run, in the long run, what is best? Let us determine that the long run, with clean water, air and earth, will exist for our grandchildren and beyond.
In parting, I have something to say to:
•  Gov. Shumlin. I hope you start to “get it.” This “it” are citizens of Vermont who want to treat our neighbors with respect by allowing them to keep their land from being invaded by Gaz Metro, citizens who want to depend on the ingenuity of producers and technicians making renewable resources available right here in Vermont, not Canada. Do not allow Lake Champlain or Vermont to be a transmission corridor. And whatever did happen to the “$21 million snatched away from CVPS rate payers … in the utility merger of 2012”? (vermontbiz.com, “A New Chapter in Crony Capitalism”, John McClaughry, 6/10/2014)
•  Sen. Leahy. Some of the ranchers and farmers in Alberta, Canada, who live closer to the fracking wells no longer have cattle that defecate. Their cattle are dead. I believe some of the qualities of being a Vermont citizen include caring about communities, being forthright, and being transparent.
•  Sen. Sanders. Some Vermont citizens do not like being sold out to large corporations such as Gaz Metro and International Paper.
•  Steve Wark, Vermont Gas Systems’ spokesman. You said that you “would pay for any water quality damages resulting from the construction of the pipeline. (Especially since) PCP (pentachlorophenol) has been found in one Monkton resident’s water well. This hazardous chemical is lodged in the soil along the transmission line (VELCO) corridor where about 20 miles of pipeline is to be buried. “The Environmental Protection Agency found that PCP is a ‘probable’ cancer causing agent.”( VT Digger, “Pipeline Opponents Warn of Water Contamination”, John Herrick, 6/9/2014) Mr. Wark, clean water is priceless. Money does not undo the damage.
Patricia Heather-Lea

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