Something grotesque is going on with the Kingdom Community Wind Project [Lowell Mountain]: erosion in the quality of life for all Vermonters; an attack on the integrity of the Green Mountains.
The most fundamental of principles is that one protects what is already intact, the Green Mountains. The approach proposed by the Green Mountain Power Corporation and Vermont Electric Co-Op is actually a corporate effort to grab public stimulus money for a project masquerading as effective climate change. In addition, there are strong arguments about the economics of wind power, its alleged health effects on neighbors, its proper place in Vermont’s energy portfolio.
Wind turbines are sprouting up all over the Kingdom; these differ greatly from industrial projects that are comprised of 400-foot-tall towers along 3.2 miles of ridgeline.
I believe Vermonters, given the chance, will reject the blasting of ridgelines. In the past, Vermont has resorted to referenda throughout its history. Different mechanisms have been successfully used to address the Vermont Constitution’s prohibition against delegating legislative authority. One, an advisory referenda, gauged public support for, or opposition to specific measures prior to formal legislative action [1976, Vermont State Lottery]. The favorable vote paved the way for introduction and passage of a lottery bill in the 1977 session. The second mechanism was to pass a law, complete in itself, that allowed voters to choose between two effective dates [dates when the law would take effect]. The selection of the later date would cause an intervening Legislature to repeal the act before it went into effect. To illustrate, in 1936 voters were asked whether an act to establish the Green Mountain Parkway should take effect on April 1, 1936, or April 1, 1941. The voters chose the second date and the 1937 Legislature repealed the act (Act No. 243 of 1937).
The most uplifting part of this proposed fiasco is the courage, stamina and commitment of such individuals as Shirley and Don Nelson, Mike Nelson, Steve Wright, Jim Moffatt, John Matthews, Ron Holland, Pat O’Neill, Jim and Deborah Blair, to name a few. I admire their tenacity in attempting to provide a counterweight to the political power and influence of big money.
They are trying to help us remain a functioning democracy.
In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, some are more equal than others. Wealth can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance “experts” that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians and officials with sympathetic views. On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people, corporations, and special interests dominate.
Oh, the joy of getting off the grid!
Noel W. Ford
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