Opinion: Public Service Board actions tarnishing landscape

An open letter to the Vermont Public Service Board members: Margaret Cheney, James Volz and Sarah Hofmann:
How tragic: In the not too distant future, I suspect, more solar panels than cows will occupy Vermont’s magnificent pastoral landscape.
In 1970, due to the courageous bipartisan work of citizens, legislators and government officials, Vermont’s historic Act 250 became law to prevent just such a tragedy as increasing indiscriminate ski area expansion loomed in a threatening fashion similar to that we now witness with the proliferation of solar arrays. 
This valiant effort led by the environmentally savvy and dedicated Gov. Deane C. Davis “to preserve Vermont’s natural beauty so that development would not have an undue adverse effect on aesthetics, scenic beauty, historic sites or natural areas and not imperil necessary wildlife habitat or endangered species,” also insured that a development must “conform with any local or regional plan or capital facilities program.”
This followed the herculean efforts of Ted Riehle of Shelburne and his devoted band of energetic campaigners to pressure the state Legislature to pass the nation’s first Billboard Ban law in 1968; in 1971, the bottle deposit ruling.
In just a short few months you, the three-member Public Service Board, at the behest of the state Legislature, have destroyed the work of hundreds of Vermonters who sought to maintain the natural beauty of the Green Mountain State as the special place: “The Beckoning Country,” where the natural environment had earned top priority. “A Place of Beauty” in which residents, young and old take pride and tourists seek.
Today, a creeping hideousness — hundreds of thousands of ugly glass and metal panels — are smothering our beautiful state, all in the name of energy efficiency. An infectious plague that is destroying a natural beauty that cannot be replaced, in a state that had led the way nationally to ensure our grandchildren of their rightful legacy.
How dare you.
How could you be so insensitive and heartless to allow this to happen without consulting with the locals before these eyesores became a fait accompli?
That Vermont is committed to energy efficiency, there is no doubt — but never, no never, in our wildest dreams did Vermonters plan to “foul their own nest” to do so.
The “common good” that you so loudly tout is nonsense: So much of this environmental exploitation of Vermont only yields tax credits for the perpetrators and energy credits for other more populated states, while Vermont endures irreparable damage to its landscape.
No one denies that we need to be more energy efficient; we do, however, need to be more creative with our methods. We cannot allow expediency to overrule common sense that dictates we protect Vermont from ruin by adhering to the principles of Act 250 as passed by the Vermont Legislature in 1970 and the Billboard Ban in 1968.
Mary K. Kerr
Editor’s note: Mary K. Kerr has been a Vermont resident since 1965: in the Mad River Valley until 1986 when she and her husband Joe Kerr, secretary of Civil & Military Affairs during the Gov. Dean C. Davis administration, moved to Ferrisburgh.

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