Letter to the editor: Albinson would be a good addition to Bristol selectboard

I appreciate hearing all perspectives, however I’d like to address a few points in Kevin Hanson’s Feb. 21 letter. He misunderstood Ian Albinson’s comment about Bristol’s infrastructure complexity. Ian did not mean the actual construction of a gas pipeline. He was referring to what many residents are concerned about. Bristol’s aged water pipes need replacement.
Natural gas hook-up lines for customers would be perpendicular to the main gas distribution lines and would be four feet above the water lines. It’s this network of gas infrastructure (containing pressurized explosive gas and crisscrossing above) that would add much greater complication, cost and risk when working on the water system below. The proposed gas pipeline is for all streets in the village of Bristol, and all homes would be close to the risk.
Secondly, Kevin’s abundant use of the words opposition, opponents and opposers referencing Energy Committee members and the many thoughtful citizens who have shared their views make us sound like villains. It’s true that I’m against building more fossil fuel infrastructure. I’m also concerned that the potent emissions from gas extraction and transmission are much higher than originally reported and affect global warming as negatively as coal. In its full analysis, natural gas is now known to be worse for climate change than oil.
Mostly though, I feel like a proponent. I’m a proponent of safety in our yards and throughout the village, and for having a choice about that. I’m for keeping our money local to invigorate our economy instead of sending it out of state to buy fuel. I’m a proponent of conservation and preserving the earth that nourishes us. I’m for downsizing and home sharing as we age to live within our means. I save money by staying close to Bristol for recreation, community events, work, connection with friends and neighbors, and engaging in volunteer projects and committees. I’m deeply satisfied, I enjoy exploring the vast wilderness nearby and it’s easier to pay my energy bills. In short, I’m a proponent of energy conservation, safety, democratic process and climate justice. I do tend to oppose what threatens them.
Thirdly, natural gas may seem like a quick fix to some people. However, there is no guarantee the price of natural gas will be lower than oil or electricity in the near future. Building long term gas infrastructure based on today’s price doesn’t make “cents” to me. It’s important to know there’s a fixed monthly fee in addition to the fuel cost of natural gas that makes it less attractive for smaller homes (including mobile homes) and for people with lower incomes. That $30-35 monthly fee adds an extra $360-$420 per year, before even paying for the actual gas. That cost should be clarified and understood for any low energy users before deciding if converting to gas would truly lower one’s costs.
Finally, I’m an advocate for public engagement in big issues that affect us all and that’s why I appreciate Ian’s approach. He listens well, looks at all sides and considers the long term implications. Ian Albinson cares deeply about Bristol and works diligently to promote economic resilience, preservation of natural beauty and resources and a vibrant sense of community. A vote for Ian is a vote to bring more balance to our selectboard.
Sally Burrell

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