Vermonters Risk Arrest, Protest Project’s High Cost, Massive Environmental Destruction, and State’s Failed Energy Policies
Lowell, Vermont – Early this morning, 20 citizens from surrounding towns formed a human blockade on the ridgeline crane path at Green Mountain Power’s Lowell Wind Project. Wearing shirts that read, “Ridges are Not Renewable” and holding signs that say, “STOP Destroying Vermont,” and “Shumlin Lies” the activists have stopped construction vehicles on property with disputed ownership. The event is at the same location where 7 individuals were arrested on December 5th, 2011.
“Most Vermonters have no idea this project will cost ratepayers over $200 million more than other options available on the market. The policies that have encouraged this development are a complete failure,” said Annegret Pollard, 75, of Walden, a retired college professor who joined the early morning action to bring attention to the flawed state policies.
Dennis Liddy, 64 a retired schoolteacher who lives in Westfield, decried the Governor’s apparent lack of understanding of the state’s CO2 emission sources. “Governor Shumlin is either outright lying to Vermonters or is purposely misleading us. Either way the implication that this project will reduce our dependency on foreign oil or even reduce our CO2 emissions is completely false. Electricity generation in Vermont isn’t a significant contributor to climate change. Even the Agency of Natural Resources acknowledges that Vermont’s emissions from electrical generation is near zero. Zero!”
“We want our Governor to be a knowledgeable leader, but Shumlin is behaving more like a shill for special interests and energy developers,” added East Albany resident, Meredith Jones. “He’s allowed GMP to destroy this ridgeline for no environmental gain.”
Irasburg stone mason, Bill Roddy, 66, explained that though the controversy began over the wind project it has grown to a controversy about the relationships between the government and energy developers. “Reasonable people would have settled the property dispute before blowing up the disputed property. When the Public Service Board knowingly allows a developer to blow up land which likely belongs to someone else – it just proves how our government has become a servant to corporate greed.”
When asked why citizens would risk arrest at the site for the third time, Steve Wright, 70, of Craftsbury said, “Green Mountain Power and the State of Vermont have not been honest with Vermonters about the costs and benefits of this project.” Vermont policy allows for the sale of the renewable benefits generated by the project called RECs or ‘renewable energy credits’ to out of state utilities while also taking credit for the benefits in Vermont.
Wright continued, “This type of double counting means that this project does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, allows polluters in other states to keep polluting, and destroys an intact ecosystem. We as citizens have a responsibility to show we won’t accept this flawed energy policy and the project’s that result from it.”
For long time activist and Abenaki, Carol Irons, 71, of Albany, this effort is about fighting for an optimal response to climate change. “Our number one responsibility in our response to climate change is to protect intact ecosystems like our ridgelines. Building seven miles of new road and blasting atop a ridgeline while destroying irreplaceable natural resources under the pretense of protecting them will accelerate the effects of climate change. This colossal mistake will be our legacy if we don’t continue to make a stand.”
Keith Ballek, 56, of Sheffield, took issue with Green Mountain Power’s positive characterization of the project and the Public Service Board (PSB) process. “We’re tired of GMP claiming that the project is acceptable to Vermonters because it went through the PSB process. The fact is the PSB process doesn’t take into account local voices and routinely ignores neighbor’s rights. How could three guys in a room, who never visited the site before approving the project act on behalf of all Vermonters?”
Artist and activist Carrie Glessner, 26, of Westfield concluded, “They can’t, and we won’t stand for it any longer.”
The Mountain Occupiers issued a statement (below) about today’s action and intend to remain on the disputed property until the situation is resolved.
Mountain Occupiers Statement – 8/6/12
We are here, risking arrest, on behalf of all Vermonters for the following reasons:
• Ridgeline wind in Vermont does nothing for climate change because it does not reduce emissions.
• Ridgeline wind will cost Vermonters hundreds of millions of dollars more than available alternatives. These options can reduce emissions without stealing from ratepayers, taxpayers, and property owners.
• Statutory protections are being ignored as regulators and policy makers allow the taking of endangered species, alteration of hydrology and disruption of wildlife – natural resources that belong to all of us.
• Destroying irreplaceable natural resources under the pretense of protecting them accelerates the effects of climate change. This will be our legacy if we continue with Vermont’s current renewable energy policy.
• As Vermonters educate themselves about energy issues, first there is disbelief, then outrage, then action to oppose the make-believe that is passing for renewable energy policy and ‘public good’ in Vermont.
• We are here to say “Stop the charade, stop the madness. Protect the mountains so they can protect us.”