Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne on Monday drew the ire of departing Gov. Peter Shumlin, who essentially called him a liar over a statement on siting controversial wind projects.
Dunne argued that his support for allowing towns to vote down industrial wind projects is no different than Shumlin’s position. Not so, Shumlin countered.
“Anyone who says they are in line with my position on renewables, and who then comes out for a veto on renewables, is not telling the truth,” Shumlin said in a statement Monday.
Dunne issued a statement Friday that he said constituted a clarification of his views on siting industrial wind turbines in Vermont. “Large-scale ridgeline wind projects should only take place with the approval of the towns where the projects are located,” he said.
If a town votes against a project, Dunne said, as governor, he would do everything he could to ensure that project wasn’t built.
The stance won him praise from rival Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Galbraith, who has supported a ban on industrial wind projects. But it earned Dunne the wrath of renewable energy advocates. As Seven Days reported Sunday, environmental activist Bill McKibben withdrew his endorsement of Dunne over the issue and said he now supports Democrat Sue Minter for governor.
Monday, Dunne issued an updated policy statement.
“Matt would use the standard that the Shumlin administration currently uses,” his statement said in part. “If a town votes the project down by Australian ballot, Matt will use all the power of the governor’s office to ensure that is the end of the project.”
Within hours, Shumlin fired off a statement contesting that. Shumlin said he signed a bill this year that allows towns that plan where projects should be built to have “a stronger voice in the Public Service Board process.”
“I would never have signed that legislation if it handed out veto power over renewables. We do not do that for any public works projects in our state,” Shumlin said.
Chris Recchia, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said Shumlin has previously said he didn’t want wind projects built where they weren’t welcome, but has transitioned away from that statement. “That was a while back,” Recchia said.
“We do not believe towns should have veto power over state policy,” Recchia said, noting that that would prevent the state from being able to plan energy projects to meet statewide goals.
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