Opinion: Governor knocked for stand on Vt. Gas
Dear Gov. Shumlin,
Today I was at the regional planning commission office Middlebury to witness your signing of S.260. It was the last legislation that you signed into law, and Middlebury and Addison County were honored to have this historic event happen here.
I was happy to applaud Addison County’s two excellent senators for their leadership, especially Sen. Chris Bray for how he has served the people of Vermont as chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee and led the way toward the environmental legislation that was passed last week and signed today. As was noted by both you and Sen. Bray and others, this legislation is the result of the dedicated work of many legislators, government officials and volunteers in local communities around the state. I am glad for this success and glad also that it was celebrated this afternoon.
However, I remain distressed about what I have seen for a long time as a serious inconsistency, a downright failure of judgment that made it impossible for me to applaud your leadership today. I think of the thousands of hours many people from Addison County and across the state have spent working together to stop the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in our state so that Vermont can make real the promise you spoke of again today, that Vermont should achieve 90 percent energy independence by 2050.
My wife and I have been among the people who have been expressing our concerns ever since we first heard of the Vermont Gas Systems’ proposal. Piping in fracked gas from Canada has never seemed like a logical step toward energy independence to us, or to the many Vermonters who have been out there trying to get your attention. Many of these people have become good friends; they are people we trust who are doing their best to speak up for what we believe in, for what we fervently believe is necessary to respond meaningfully to the increasingly obvious reality of climate change.
The Addison Natural Gas Project pipeline to bring fracked gas to Middlebury and some of the surrounding towns may have seemed like a good idea to you when it was first proposed, though it should be remembered that hundreds of people came out to Public Service Board hearings to speak against it.
But now it is clear that the pipeline does not make sense for ratepayers who will be paying for 32 years without receiving any benefit. Because of the unpredictable nature of costs of different kinds of fuels and the technical advances that have made heat pumps an affordable option, converting to natural gas no longer can promise certain savings for individual home owners.
But, the most important reason that my wife and I have spent countless hours expressing our opposition to this pipeline is that it is not “clean”; it is not good for the environment when the pollution at the source is considered (Vermont outlaws fracking in Vermont, so why should we support damage to other places by using fracked gas here?).
In short, the building of infrastructure here that commits Vermont to this use of fossil fuels for another 50 years, when we are committed to come close to eliminating fossil fuel use in the next 34 years, does not make sense.
In many conversations over these last three years you have plainly declared to me that you will not change your mind. It seems to me a case of “facts be damned!” I am sorry. When I worked for your election for each of your three terms, I expected better.
My hope is that the broad coalition that is growing and still stands in opposition to the pipeline will have better success with the next administration, and Vermont will really be in every possible way the green state that most Vermonters want it to be and many of our legislators are working to make it become.
Rev. George Klohck
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