Opinion: Many students disagree with college’s pipeline stand
I am a Middlebury College senior strongly opposed to the college’s position in favor of a proposed 41-mile pipeline siphoning natural gas from Colchester to Middlebury. The full, unflinching support for this proposal among Middlebury faculty, administrators and board members is deplorable and misguided. I commend Bristol lawyer Jim Dumont’s stance that this project, with a price tag surging above $150 million, is a huge mistake for Vermont.
Economics were a keystone in the college’s 2013 endorsement of the pipeline’s Certificate of Public Good; today, however, the numbers aren’t so academic. When project designs were first drawn up by Vermont Gas years ago, compressed natural gas (CNG) was marginally available for delivery.
Today, CNG is a fast-growing industry. NG Advantage, for instance, now delivers to a number of businesses in Middlebury, including the college. Our region’s businesses, which claim they would be significantly serviced by a new pipeline, seem blind to this trucked-gas reality, let alone the money and disruption to landowners a pipeline portends. Increasing emissions from trucking fracked gas to Vermont’s larger corporations is eons better in my book than generations of infrastructure and investiture in a failing, flailing energy model, wherein hydraulic fracturing is its bottom line.
There are heated months ahead in this fight, as a decision could be reached by the end of the summer. So I hope, now, to call attention to the many Middlebury students like me who stand against the pro-pipeline Middlebury College faculty and administrators. While February brought positive news that Vermont Gas would be scrapping plans for construction under Lake Champlain to Ticonderoga, N.Y. (garnering capital savings exceeding $135 million), Middlebury College officials continue to preach a pro-pipeline agenda.
They remain at the fringes of the debate, remarkably, all the while, managing to greenwash its campus marketing and broadcast a global brand characterized by leadership in sustainability. On wobbly knees, Middlebury has succeeded in this effort, but now it seems the institution knows it’s not always easy moving from intention to action. Is reaching 2016 neutrality worth the professed marketing boost?
The college’s support of Docket 7970 is an abject failure, a shame to the Middlebury name. I urge the Public Service Board to squash Vermont Gas’s overwrought energy vision for our region, for good. This is a precedent-setting moment for our county, our state and all of New England. Giving in to big-energy corporate behemoths like Vermont Gas will only inflict social and economic pains to communities we hold dear. They won’t relieve them.
Zane H. Anthony
Middlebury College, class of 2016
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