In Vergennes, Shumlin challenged on pipeline stance

VERGENNES — In a wide-ranging discussion with locals at the Legislative Luncheon in Vergennes on Monday, Gov. Peter Shumlin defended his stance on the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project.
Opponents of Phase I of the project — which would extend the pipeline from Colchester to Middlebury and Vergennes — reiterated their opposition to the plan. Affected landowners have criticized the project based on property rights and safety concerns, among other things. The Vermont Public Service Board is taking another look at the Vermont Gas project in light of new information showing massive increases in cost projections. The PSB had approved the project in December of 2013.
Shumlin continues to support the pipeline project, but said he supports the PSB decision to revisit it.
“I asked Vermont Gas to slow down so that we could arrive at a process where everyone, including those whose land it was going to go through, would be heard,” Shumlin said on Monday. “All I ask is, ‘Let’s have this conversation the Vermont way.’”
Salisbury resident Barrie Bailey challenged Shumlin to disclose whether his personal investment portfolio continues to include stocks in companies that engage in hydraulic fracturing to procure natural gas, and specifically companies that stand to gain if the Vermont Gas pipeline through Addison County is pursued.
“Are your investments what make you insist on agreeing to disagree about this pipeline disaster?” Bailey asked the governor, citing a potential conflict of interest.
Shumlin replied that if he were looking to reap personal financial gain, he would not be serving as governor at a salary of $136,000 per year, compared to $1 million annually through his family’s company, Putney Student Travel.
“If you are accusing me of being motivated by my own financial goals, I wouldn’t be in this job in the first place,” he said.
He did not share specifics of his investments with Bailey.
“I think that your tactics are ‘un-Vermont,’” he said.

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