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The soul of the Kingdom is not for sale

Several hundred taxpayers in one of the remotest areas of the Northeast Kingdom are right now voting their opinion on an industrial wind project proposed for Seneca Mountain in the town of Ferdinand. It would be the largest wind development in Vermont. As has often been the case in the development and distribution of conventional energy, most notably now with “fracked” oil, the poorest communities are asked to disproportionately bear the burden of the associated spoilage. So too in the Northeast Kingdom.

The financial inducements offered to Ferdinand and surrounding towns and gores by Eolian Energy of Portsmouth, N.H., the developer, are substantial but questionable. The benefits in terms of efficient alternative energy production and distribution are dubious. The environmental impacts on land, water and wildlife are certain.

The state of Vermont Fish & Wildlife Conservation Group opposes this proposal, believing it “will cause undue environmental harm and will materially diminish the value of the area to recreational users.” The issue is not denial of climate change and the urgent need to address it. The issue is not wind power in itself but appropriate siting of turbines. Unfortunately, as was evident during the debate over a moratorium on wind development, the matter has bitterly divided the environmental community. I hope we are moving beyond a desperation that concludes all alternative energy is good energy. The situation we are in is more complex, and much is at stake.

These mountains have been here for eons, slowly accumulating soil, growing mosses and ferns and finally forests that were here long before we humans were here. Animals made their homes on this land, fish in its streams, birds in its trees, long before we were here. Native peoples hunted and foraged and built shelters, knowing that their lives depended on the health of the natural world around them, long before our ancestors came. We have “developed” our way into climate change, endangering not only our own health and lives but all other innocent forms of life.

Blasting mountain ridges to erect huge wind turbines is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem: our lack of respect and kindness and love for the natural world and, ultimately, for ourselves. Instead of sacrificing our extraordinary consumption of energy, we wrest sacrifices from the earth, again and again, without restraint. We have lost a sense of the sacredness of all life.

And so I will stand with the voters of Newark and Brighton who have already voted their opposition to Seneca Mountain Wind, and vote against the siting of industrial wind turbines in our mountains. The soul of the Kingdom is not for sale.

For more information on and discussion of all alternative energy resources go to www.energizevermont.org. Be sure to watch the excellent video, “Vermont’s Energy Options,” on this site.

For more discussion of the proposed Seneca Mountain project go to http://saveoursenecas.org.