Dr. Ron Holland, a respected local physician and scientist with impeccable research and analytical skills, has shown us how the proposed Lowell Wind development fails to advance any effort to stem the effects of climate change. I have followed his analytical process closely, examined his sources and finally attended his presentation on May 16 to the Irasburg Select Board. I have also listened to Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Cooperative’s legion of attorneys and expert witnesses, hundreds of thousands of dollars of testimony and investigation. Dr. Holland has clearly shown the error of their ways. Lowell Wind does nothing to reduce carbon emissions. It is a failure before it leaves the paper on which it was conceived. Even the commissioner of Public Service Department has begun to carefully – very carefully – parse her assessment of the further development of industrial wind in Vermont.
And then there are the mountains and the planned road as wide as Interstate 91, the severed, diced and chopped wildlife habitat, the altered water flows off the mountain and on and on. The list grows longer with each downpour this saturated spring. Can someone tell us how much those mountains are worth? They’re 450 million years old. They must have gained some value just sitting there all these years. The fact is, these Green Mountains are our economic heartbeat. Those of us who live in their shadow know that. What sense does it make to reduce them to gravel? They are our metaphor for toughness and survival. They have shaped our bodies, minds and cultural fiber.
The first rule of effective climate change is to protect existing intact ecosystems: wildlife travel corridors, water resources, native vegetation and soils. Unfortunately for all of us, the proposed Lowell Wind Project does just the opposite. The corporations clamoring to industrialize the mountains and grab their 30 pieces of silver in the form of federal subsidies cannot deny this. If we are really serious about effective climate change action then we must limit the sources of carbon.
In Vermont 90 percent of its sources are transportation and home heating. The proposed Lowell project has nothing to do with either and is a sad commentary on the effectiveness of our societal decision-making. Let’s keep those things that make us Vermonters, starting with the mountains. When the people lead, the leaders will follow. It’s that time and that simple.
Steve E. Wright
Mr. Wright is a former commissioner of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. He is recently retired from the National Wildlife Federation where he focused on public education for effective climate change action.