What is the real threat of Vermont Senate Bill 30 (Dori Wolfe: “Don’t Reject Wind Energy in Vermont,” Forum, March 17)? Now stripped of the three-year moratorium provision, it essentially just moves the permitting process from Section 248 to Act 250.
It is ironic that business people such as Wolfe, while urging us to save the environment by buying their products and services in one breath, in the next express alarm that environmental scrutiny “would severely damage the wind industry.”
But she is right to fear the potential consequence of heightened review: These projects, especially on otherwise fiercely protected ridgelines, are not green. The environmental (not to mention financial) costs far outweigh the necessarily minuscule benefit from a diffuse, intermittent and highly variable source.
To avoid that conclusion, Wolfe raises the specter of oil and gas, which fuel our cars, heat our homes and power our factories but provide almost none of our electricity. In fact, more wind requires building more gas-powered plants just for backup. She notes that house cats kill more birds, as if that absolves the additional deaths caused by wind turbines, and disregards wind energy’s toll on raptors (eagles, owls and the like) and bats, the latter already decimated by white nose syndrome.
Wolfe also touts the latest poll showing continuing support for industrial wind energy (ignoring the broad dissatisfaction everywhere they are actually erected or even proposed). If industrial wind is as popular as the polls indicate, then the greater local involvement enabled by Act 250 would be a boon, not a threat.
But S.30 would make it harder for developers to divide communities and to pit town against town, because Act 250 considers the region’s interests before those of industry lobbyists in Montpelier.
If industrial-scale wind (and solar) are indeed beneficial to the environment and communities, locally as well as globally, then its marketers have nothing to fear from a more democratic and environmentally rigorous permitting process. If they do indeed have reason to fear, that’s precisely why we need to say yes to S.30.
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