The Caledonia County Democratic Committee recently passed a resolution seeking to have the State Democratic Committee call on the Vermont State Legislature and Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin to re-evaluate the state’s energy policy and, in particular, protect areas of high elevation from wind development projects.
The resolution was put forward by committee member Keith Ballek of Sheffield, regarding Vermont Statue 248 which addresses the State’s energy policy:
The resolution reads as follows: “The Caledonia County Democratic Committee proposes the following resolution that the State Democratic Committee call on the Vermont State Legislature and Gov. Shumlin to:
• Reassess Vermont’s energy policy;
• Make appropriate changes to Statute 248 to account for high elevation power projects that are attentive and accountable on issues of environmental destruction, wildlife habitat, and human health impacts;
• Propose a transparent, sustainable energy policy that:
• Addresses Vermont’s dominant sources of carbon dioxide emissions, which are heating and transportation;
• Addresses electricity needs by encouraging small, low-impact power generation that does not add to greenhouse gas emissions;
• Eliminates selling pollution credits to fossil fuel-burning power plants;
• Preserves the irreplaceable ecosystems of Vermont’s highest elevations.”
A preface to the resolution, prepared by Ballek, states, “Vermont’s mountains have always been a cherished natural resource, with their high elevation, streams and wetlands, and wildlife habitat, and providing our watershed. These mountains are enjoyed by Vermonters and visitors alike for the natural beauty of her viewshed. They are a vital link to Vermont’s clean environment as well as to our state’s economy. Vermont has in recent decades set high environmental standards, protecting our landscape from overexploitation by corporate interests.”
“Now corporate interests – industrial wind developers and their lobbyists – are driving Vermont’s environmental and energy policy,” the preface to the resolution goes on. “This is being carried out under the guise of ‘green energy.’ ”
Stephen Amos, chair of the Caledonia County Democratic Committee, on Thursday said, “The belief by many, not just in Caledonia County, is that the Legislature did not thoroughly look at all viable options for renewable energy resources, and the Shumlin administration seemed all too eager to sign into law the ‘need’ for developing industrial wind, pushed by outside interests with deep pockets.”
Amos added, “What this resolution is requesting is that Vermont take a more in-depth look toward our future energy interests, and reliably identify our needs, without the pressure of big interests and lots of money.”
“Do we want even more gargantuan turbines on our ridgelines; do we want an ever increasing myriad of transmission lines gouged into our rustic and scenic landscape? I believe a majority of Vermonters, even those living in urbanized regions of the state, would say ‘No,’ ” Amos said.
The resolution was suggested by Ballek, a member of his town’s planning commission who has been arrested for protesting at a wind project in the Northeast Kingdom and is vocal against more wind power coming to the NEK. His town, Sheffield, is home to 16 industrial-scale wind turbines owned by First Wind.
“The whole policy is so deceptive, it’s driven more by subsidies than anything else,” said Ballek.”The intensive energy it takes to build a project, the production of concrete, transportation, the manufacturing of these parts transported thousands of miles, the whole thing, the crushing of rock, destruction of the ecosystem…It’s questionable if they even cover their own carbon footprint.”
“I suggest anyone from over in those areas (not yet impacted by industrial wind projects) come and take a hike in some of these mountains, and see what they are doing over here,” said Ballek.
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