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Sen. John Rodgers – The Golden Fleece is on VPIRG’s back

I feel compelled to set the record straight after reading a press release by VPIRG’s Ben Walsh. This is not the first piece that I have seen by Walsh that is filled with untruths and misinformation. The $50,000 that Walsh claims was “buried deep” was discussed multiple times in committee, supported by the entire committee, labeled on the spreadsheet, printed in the capital bill and was mentioned in the floor presentation to the entire Senate. This money is seed money that must be matched by the college and is for the purchase of sound monitoring equipment to be used to educate students how to properly measure sound produced by industry and others. The Senate Institutions Committee has been trying to help our colleges to buy equipment and offer programs where there are job opportunities.

Walsh goes on to attack one of our many great and dedicated State College professors just because VPIRG and the energy developers that support VPIRG disagree with him politically. Ben Luce has a Ph.D. in Physics, a BS in Sound recording, is published in nonlinear sound theory and is not an opponent of wind energy. In fact Luce has worked on the deployment of a huge amount of both wind and solar power projects. Luce has done the math and weighed the impacts and cost of industrial wind in Vermont and concludes that it does not work here.

Walsh goes on to say “this taxpayer gift to the extreme opponents of renewable energy in Vermont was essentially hidden in the budget,” This statement is wrong in so many ways. I have already outlined that it was not hidden and this money is for our State College system.

Earlier this year Walsh used a similar statement calling a large gathering of concerned citizens “ extreme opponents of renewable energy” when in fact many in attendance produce and support renewable energy. Some attending have dedicated their lives to environmental causes. Some live off grid and have little if any carbon foot print. VPIRG supports developers like Sun Edison who own Sheffield Wind. Sun Edison is bankrupt after getting billions in our tax dollars and paying their executives many millions for years. In the last annual report that I was able to find Sun Edison in 2014 paid their CEO $7.7 million just in salary, I would bet that there were many more benefits and bonuses that went with the excessive salary all while the ship was sinking.

If just the Tax dollars (our money) from Sheffield and Lowell had been used to insulate Vermonters homes, 23,000 Vermont homes could have been insulated saving Vermonters millions and more than doubling the carbon reduction of those two industrial wind plants. Local contractors would be doing the work to make homes more efficient and comfortable and that would keep the money in our communities. Better for Vermonters and better for the planet.

Industrial renewable companies like Sun Edison are taking the tax dollars and the rate payer dollars out of state and enriching the millionaire class. VPIRG supports these developers because their board and contributors are investors and owners of the companies that are wearing the “Golden Fleece.” They get our tax dollars because they make large campaign contributions and in return get to write policy to benefit themselves even though it is abundantly clear that the money would be better spent on thermal efficiency for individual Vermonters homes and businesses but we, the average Vermonter, cannot write a big enough check to be in the game.

VPIRG supports policies that take our tax dollars and rate payer dollars and concentrate them to the super rich instead of policies that benefit Vermonters and protect our environment. They should change their name to VSIRG (Vermont Special Interest Research Group) as they do not represent the public.

Walsh states that the issue of noise has been studied by the VT Department of Health. That “study” is laughable and would fail high school science as a study. No one from the health department has ever visited any home experiencing noise problems from industrial wind plants. Developers, regulators and those affected all need trained professional in sound monitoring and that is what this program would produce. Perhaps VPIRG and their developer friends are worried that if there are trained professionals to monitor sound that they will prove that wind plants are not operating within their CPG.

VPIRG exemplifies everything that is wrong with American politics, their lobbyists are puppets run by the “one percenters” spreading their misinformation and bullying anyone who does not agree with them 100%. After reading so many VPIRG misrepresentations of reality I find myself wondering if they are even capable of telling the truth anymore. Perhaps reality does not matter when you are wearing the “Golden Fleece.”

I hope that everyone who reads this will consider making a contribution to Lyndon State to support this worthy program.

Senator John S. Rodgers is a Democrat from Glover, Vt., serving the Essex-Orleans Senate District. He is vice chair of the Senate Committee on Institutions and a member of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. He previously served for eight years in the Vt. House of Representatives.