Last year, long before the PSB was ready to issue the infamous Certificate of Public Good to Green Mountain Power for the Lowell Wind Project, the Nelsons came to the Public Service Board, claiming they had a dispute over the property line between their land and the land Green Mountain Power was about to lease. They contended that if Green Mountain Power continued to move ahead on their industrial wind project, they might, in fact, be doing it on the Nelson property. The PSB said this dispute would have to be settled in Superior Court. They also made it very clear that GMP was responsible for settling the dispute before they started construction. Green Mountain Power sat on it, knowing as the PSB did, that it might be a source of contention later on.
When the property line dispute came before the Superior Court judge, he refused to rule on it. His reasoning was that the Nelsons could be “compensated” for any damages they received. Without any ruling on the property line, how can anybody be compensated for anything and who decides if the industrial wind project moves forward or not. Not ruling on the land dispute made it easier for the judge to rule not to stop blasting on the disputed property.
If this was just about money, this problematic protest would have ended long ago. From the beginning the protest has been about principles and beliefs Vermont has always adhered to, ideas like protecting our environment and beautiful green mountains. If it wasn’t for the wholly unbalanced approach of our state government, our state regulating agencies and our court system to industrial wind projects in general and the Lowell Wind Project in particular, there would have been no need for a protest at all. The ridge lines would have been spared and a more thoughtful approach to our energy needs would have been implemented.
Now we come to the battleground of the latest protest against the Lowell Wind Project. This is the 20 to 30 acre sliver of disputed property now lying in the middle of the construction site. This week six protesters and one reporter were arrested for being inside the crane path of the industrial wind project. Allegedly they were arrested for trespassing on land they believed GMP was encroaching on. Who is trespassing? Who is encroaching? Who decides? The lone reporter was just trying to do his job. The protesters were willing to be arrested because they believed the very powerful and politically connected utility had encroached on that disputed sliver of land and ravaged a ridgeline that a few short months ago was pristine, fragile and peaceful. I wonder how many of the rest of us have the courage and conviction to put our beliefs and principles on the line like that.
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