Thursday, March 21, 2013

Comments or Threats: Wind in Vermont

Turbine 9, Lowell Mountain
From Ver Mont's albums
Senate Bill 30 mandates Act 250 oversight for wind projects. It has strong bi-partisan support in the Vermont legislature.  (I blogged about this yesterday.)

 In the past two days, letters on both sides of this issue were referenced in the Valley News, my local paper.  The contrast in tone between the two letters is astonishing.  Read for yourself.

Urging Heightened Oversight for Wind

Eric Rosenbloom, a resident of Hartland, is opposed to wind development.  In his recent letter to the editor (Why Fear Act 250 Wind Review?) he explains it is not worth destroying our ridges for the small amount of energy that we can obtain from wind.  Quotes from his letter:

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...

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.

If You Vote For Act 250 Oversight of Wind, I Will Do My Best to Destroy Your Political Career

In contrast, Jeff Wolfe wrote a recent letter against SB30.

Some background:

  • John Campbell is Vermont Senator from my town of Hartford.  He is a moderate Democrat, and President Pro Tempore of the Senate.  He has announced that he will vote for SB 30.
  • Jeff Wolfe, president of Gro-Solar from White River Junction (also in my town of Hartford), wrote a letter to Senator Campbell, and he posted it on Vermont Digger.   

Some quotes from the Wolfe letter, as posted on the Digger website:

I was astonished to hear that you personally support S.30....This anti renewable energy effort is well documented as being funded by the Koch brothers and their allies. I’m truly surprised and stunned that you are falling for their lies, deceit, fake science, and name-calling. As the ‘leader’ of the Vermont Senate, I expect more from you.

John, I’ve supported you for a lot of races. But if you support this bill, not only does that support end, but I will help recruit and support opposition to you in the next election, and will put my money where my mouth is. 

 John Gregg, political analyst in the Valley News reported Campbell's reaction to Wolfe's letter.  Gregg's column is Tower Power.

Campbell... said Wolfe “has publicly threatened me and tried to intimidate me to vote one way, and I think it would send a bad message” were he to change his vote.

“For him to have associated me with the Koch brothers, I find it a bit ironic,” Campbell said, referring to the industrialists who have funded numerous conservative causes, some linked to the Tea Party movement. “The Koch brothers, what they are known for is their bullying tactics, intimidation and threats ... that’s pretty much the activity (Wolfe) is engaged in.”

Compare and Contrast:

Now that you have done the reading, here's the quiz:

  • Which letter makes a reasoned argument?
  • Which letter uses personal attacks ("Koch brothers") and future threats ("I will help recruit and support opposition to you..")?
  • Which letter is "green"? 
  • Which letter-writer holds the moral high ground? 
  • Which letter-writer thinks he holds the moral high ground?
  • Who gets to decide Vermont land-use?

Update:  Today's Valley News Editorial  against Wolfe letter to Campbell

Hardball in Vermont: Environmental Fight Turns Nasty

Two quotes from the editorial:

The first paragraph includes: Jeff Wolfe delivered an unmistakable message to state Sen. John Campbell of Hartford that the game being played is hardball — or maybe moneyball.

Later in the editorial: Indeed we haven’t seen yet a convincing case that large-scale wind energy can play a significant role in reducing carbon emissions in Vermont, which would be the only rational basis for sacrificing a landscape that plays such an important role in the state’s economy and self-identity.


EntrepreNuke said...

How would quantifiable capacity factors be considered fake science is my question?

jimwg said...

Nice to see pols finally standing up on their hind legs and calling out wind/solar environmentalists as landscape-loving hypocrites.

I wonder how much these issues would be rendered joyously moot with plans for a VY Unit 2...

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Anonymous said...

Why do these people always resort to childish tactics like bringing up boogeymen (e.g., "the Koch Brothers", ooooooooo!), and browbeating ("I'll git you, sucka!")? Why can't they just look at both sides of the issue and have a rational discussion? Truth is, there is a downside to any kind of power generation. One that uses an intermittent and diffuse energy source like wind will take up a lot of territory, and in a state like Vermont with the topology that it has, that means a lot of ridgelines and mountaintops are going to get haircuts to put those windmills up. You want to go that way, that's what you'll have to accept.

Anonymous said...

With all the wind turbines VT wants to build, how many years till it looks like WVA?