Showing posts sorted by relevance for query vermont. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query vermont. Sort by date Show all posts

October 25, 2012

Is it “hair on fire” or “pants on fire,” Mr Shumlin?

Write In Annette Smith For Vermont Governor

Smith Calls Out Shumlin and Brock for Hypocrisy on Climate Change and Energy

Working out of her homestead-office in Danby, Independent candidate for Vermont Governor Annette Smith's carbon footprint and renewable energy lifestyle sets an example that others, especially Governor Shumlin, and Randy Brock, could learn from.

“Referring to climate change, Governor Shumlin says ‘our hair is on fire’ and Vermont must do everything possible to stop climate change. Then he burns thousands of gallons of fossil fuel flying to Florida to look for EB5 money for his friends, and flies to California for a fundraiser, and flies again to California for ‘negotiations’ over computer systems with a firm that just happens to have also donated to his campaign,” said Annette. “Shumlin’s supposed desire to fight climate change didn’t stop him from spending four full months traveling out of state in the past year.”

Annette offers a different approach to energy issues, leading by example and empowering local communities. She spends her days advocating for those concerned about their health, their environment and their future; she has been using photovoltaics for her home more than 20 years. She uses solar hot water, drives a car that gets 40mpg, and grows a big garden at her homestead. Annette understands from experience that it is indeed possible to implement “Vermont scale” renewable energy to reduce dependence on expensive and polluting fossil fuels.

“Mr. Brock seems to think that Vermont can have a prosperous future while still endorsing dependence on imported fossil and nuclear fuels to run our economy, but we all know we need to scale back,” said Annette. “And our Governor has made investments in several fossil fuel companies, even as he advocates for the industrialization of our ridge-lines to fight climate change.”

“This hypocrisy and manipulation cannot stand. The best thing that Vermont can do about climate change and peak oil is lead by example and become more self-reliant in ways that actually benefit Vermonters. Vermont’s impact on global greenhouse gas emissions is a drop in the bucket. But we can and must lead by example using realistic, Vermont-scale solutions – not with hypocritical corporate-scale projects that send money and power out of Vermont. We must reframe this discussion, for the health, well-being and energy security of future generations in Vermont,” Annette added. “Shumlin is doing exactly the opposite of leading the way, and is selling out to large corporate interests while thousands of Vermonters struggle with high energy costs. He is a poster-child for excessive personal energy consumption. His advocacy for false solutions like residential smart meters and consolidation of Vermont’s energy infrastructure under foreign-owned mega-corporations make it clear that Shumlin is not a true leader on climate or energy issues.”

Annette believes that the millionaire candidates Shumlin and Brock could also learn something from the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to Vermont. The Dalai Lama responded to a question about what humanity's ethical response to climate change should be, by noting that western society consumes too much and we should be more content and live more simply. Annette lives this perspective in her daily life and recognizes that Vermont’s fossil fuel consumption for heating, hot water and transportation should be the priorities, not our electricity grid which can today be supplied with existing in-state and regional hydro-power.

Annette emphasizes that the first step towards reducing Vermont’s fossil fuel cost and emissions is to reduce consumption: “Turn the lights off. Turn the thermostat down. Button up the house. Convert fossil fueled hot water and heating to solar, wood-fired or heat pumps powered by photovoltaics,” she said. “The key to all of these real solutions is empowering Vermonters with affordable financing to make this transition at the household and community level, instead of subsidizing corporate false-solutions that trick consumers into sending their money out of the state.”


Vermont must aggressively promote energy conservation and reverse the trend of increasing monopoly power over our energy supply. We must support local control over our energy resources instead of subsidizing out-of-state monopolies. Forcing residential wireless smart meters and the corporate industrialization of our pristine ridgelines is not a solution to either climate change or energy security. Distributed solar electric and hot water, sustainable biomass heating fuels, ecologically designed micro-hydro, and the sensible reclamation of our existing hydro-power should be our priorities.

Visit for more information about how you can get involved in her independent WRITE IN campaign for Vermont governor. Print ads and Palm Cards can be downloaded from her website for volunteer supporters to use.


March 1, 2011

Prayer for the Republic of Vermont

Thomas Naylor writes at Counterpunch:

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my solemn duty to inform you that on 4 March 1791 the First Vermont Republic, the only American republic which truly invented itself, entered immortality and became the fourteenth state of the American empire. Fourteen years after declaring its independence, Vermont was seduced into the union by the promise of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Two hundred twenty years later the Green Mountain state finds itself in a nation whose government condones the annihilation of Afghanistan and Iraq , a convoluted war on terrorism which it helped create, the illegal rendition of terrorist suspects, prisoner abuse and torture, citizen surveillance, the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, staggering deficits, corporate greed, Wall Street bailouts, pandering to the rich and powerful, a culture of deceit, and a foreign policy based on full spectrum dominance, imperial overstretch, and unconditional support for Israel.

A state convention convened by the Vermont Assembly on 10 January 1791 petitioned the United States Congress for admission into the Union. By a vote of 105 to 4 the delegates of the convention opted to sell the soul of the independent Republic of Vermont to the Empire. Vermont’s statehood petition was ratified by the U.S. Congress on 4 March, a day that will go down in history as a day of infamy.

America was supposed to have been immortal, but in the end it could not deliver. Its government has lost its moral authority. It has no soul. As a nation it has become unsustainable and unfixable because it is effectively ungovernable.

Is it possible that out of the ashes of the First Vermont Republic a Second Vermont Republic might emerge? Might not Vermont experience a kind of resurrection from the dead, or at least from its two-century long slumber, resulting in a new state of consciousness opposed to the tyranny of Corporate America and the U.S. government and committed to once again becoming an independent republic? Might such a republic embrace these principles: political independence, human scale, sustainability, economic solidarity, power sharing, equal opportunity, tension reduction, and community?

What if tiny Vermont, the second smallest state in the Union, were to become an example for other states to follow leading to the peaceful dissolution of the largest, most powerful empire of all time—the United States of America? Literally every reason why Vermont might want to opt out of the Union is equally applicable to every other state. Vermont’s paradigm for secession could easily be adapted to any other state.

Is it possible that the Green Mountain state might actually help save America from itself and help save the rest of the world from America by seceding from the Union and leading the nation into peaceful disunion?

In the words of Reverend Ben T. Matchstick, we pray for Vermont independence “in the name of the flounder, the sunfish, and the holy mackerel.”


[Note: On Jan. 10, 2011, Time Magazine included Vermont in its list of top 10 aspiring nations.]

human rights, Vermont

February 13, 2007

Where are the environmentalists?

[You know things are bad when you have to depend on conservative lobbyists to sound the alarm about threats to the environment.]

Like a tsunami, the politics of global warming has washed over the State House this past month. As the water recedes, the enormity of the problem has begun to sink in. Everybody is pumped up and ready to do something, anything, to solve the problem. The hard fact remains that in the short term there is not much the tiny State of Vermont can substantially accomplish. This is not to say there's not a problem that should be addressed and that all of us should be more responsible for our planet. Caution and thoughtfulness should be the rule that guides the legislature as they move to answer this problem. Let's be sure the solution doesn't lead to a whole new set of problems. Attempting to place huge 400 foot wind turbines on Vermont's mountain tops is a perfect example.

For almost 40 years, Vermont has carefully created a set of land use laws specifically designed to protect the state's beautiful landscape. From the banning of billboards on Vermont's highways in the early 1970's to the development and implementation of Act 250, an entire generation of Vermont politicos, lawmakers, environmentalists and lawyers has made it next to impossible to build any new structures above 2,500 feet. It is so difficult to build in this state that many believe that had the ski areas not been in existence before Act 250, they would never have been developed. ...

Where are all the environmental organizations that helped develop our land use legacy?  In one fell swoop, behind the cloak of global warming, 40 years of Vermont development control policies are being threatened. The placement of huge wind turbines on Vermont's ridgelines flies in the face of Vermont's land use policies. How can this happen? One legislator put it best, "How can we be seen as leaders in the fight against global warming if we don't have industrial wind farms in the state? We would be no different that any other state."

Arguably the cleanest energy user and one of the most beautiful states in the union, Vermont is very different from any other state. Precisely because of things like Act 250 and related policies, Vermont is a national leader on environmental and land use issues. How can this state turn away from its environmental roots by defacing its ridgelines for a marginal generating technology? Wind turbines perform at only 35% of their potential capacity and require a 100% backup generating system for when wind conditions are less than ideal. Is this about feeling good? There is no compelling reason to promote the construction of industrial wind farms in Vermont. Global warming needs to be addressed, but that should not come at the expense of Vermont's land use policies. Simply put, industrial wind farms that destroy Vermont's picturesque ridgelines are not the solution to global warming.

MacLean, Meehan & Rice, Montpelier, Vt.
Monday Briefing, February 12, 2007

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, Vermont

October 9, 2014

Sorry, your health care coverage can't actually be used.


Subject: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2013
To: [ ]@[ ].net

Dear [ ],

Hello! We are writing to let you know that you have a new notice regarding your bill for health care benefits from Vermont Health Connect. To view your notice, please click on the link below and log in to your account.

Your notice is: Premium Invoice

After logging into your account, click on ‘My Account’ and select the ‘My Profile’ tab. Once there, click on ‘View Documents’ from the ‘Quick Links’ box. If you have any questions regarding this notice, please call Vermont Health Connect Customer Support toll-free at 1-855-899-9600, Monday-Friday 8am-8pm and Saturdays 8am-1pm (except holidays and holiday weekends).

Thank you,

Vermont Health Connect


Subject: Re: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2013
From: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>

There doesn't appear to be a way to log in. There is a "logout" button, which remains "logout" after clicking it. No "login" button or pane.

In fact, because of the consequent inability to check my account and the lack of reply by telephone [since applying on line], I just sent in a paper application today. Which I guess is now unnecessary as far as setting up an account.

I think I would like a paper notice/statement/bill.



Subject: RE: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2013
From: AHS - VT Health Connect
To: '[ ]' <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for writing.

To log in to your account, please go to and click on “Start Here” found next to where you see “Are you looking for coverage for yourself or your family?” On the next page, please click either on “Login to your Account” or “Apply Now” as either will bring you to the log-in screen. Once you are logged into your account, you will be able to access your invoice using the directions in your original e-mail.

[Makes sense? Even if you have an account, you have to illogically click "Are you looking for coverage for yourself or your family?" to get to it. But perhaps that was an admission of the truth recorded here.]

As you've requested, we'll send a paper invoice to you in the mail. You can expect to receive this invoice within a week.

Please let us know if we can help you with anything else.

Kind regards,

Vermont Health Connect
Customer Support – 855-899-9600

Check out our website for updated information!

Vermont Health Connect:
YouTube Channel:


Subject: Your Vermont Health Connect Invoice
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2013
From: Vermont Health Connect
To: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for completing your application for health insurance coverage through Vermont Health Connect. You may have received two invoices this month – one for your new (2014) Vermont Health Connect health plan, which begins January 1, 2014, and one for your former (2013) health plan, which was recently given the option of extending up to March 31, 2104.

You only need to pay the bill for the plan you wish to have effective on January 1. You do not need to pay the other bill. If you want help making the choice of which bill to pay, please call our Customer Support Center toll-free at 1-855-899-9600 and reference the code “VHC1215.” A customer service representative will then talk you through your options. Please note that our call volume is high at this time. We thank you in advance for your patience. If you applied through a Navigator, you could consult him or her as well.

Please note that you do not need to take any additional steps to cancel your former plan. Your 2013 health plan will automatically expire after you pay your premium and your 2014 plan takes effect.

We are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays.


Vermont Health Connect Customer Service


Subject: Starting coverage in February
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 2014
From: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>

I set up my account and selected a plan very early and received an invoice by mail (as requested) in December. However, I had already paid my Catamount Care premium for January, so I did not pay the premium for the new plan.

Now I need to make sure that I will get another invoice (by mail, please) for the new plans, to start coverage in February.


Subject: RE: Starting coverage in February
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2014
From: AHS - VT Health Connect
To: '[ ]' <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for writing. We're so sorry for the delay in replying to your email.

I've reviewed your account and see that you also called and spoke with someone about this last week. As they told you, it is fine for you to just pay your premium for February. Your account has been marked so that your policy will start in February.

Please let us know if we can help you with anything else.

Kind regards,

Vermont Health Connect


Subject: Important Information About Your Health Coverage
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2014
To: [ ]@[ ].net

Dear [ ],

Hello! We are writing to let you know that you have a new notice regarding your bill for health care benefits from Vermont Health Connect. To view your notice, please click on the link below and log in to your account.

Your notice is: Premium Invoice

After logging into your account, click on ‘My Account’ and select the ‘My Profile’ tab. Once there, click on ‘View Documents’ from the ‘Quick Links’ box. If you have any questions regarding this notice, please call Vermont Health Connect Customer Support toll-free at 1-855-899-9600, Monday-Friday 8am-8pm and Saturdays 8am-1pm (except holidays and holiday weekends).

[Steps to view invoice:
• Click "Are you looking for coverage for yourself or your family?"
• Click "Log in"
• Click "My Account"
• Click "My Profile"
• Find the "Quick Links" box and Click "View Documents"
• Click the listed documents until you reveal the current invoice]

Thank you,

Vermont Health Connect


Subject: Re: Starting coverage in February
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2014
From: [ ] <[ ]@[ ].net>
To: AHS - VT Health Connect

Today I received a "Payment past due/Termination Notice" from BCBS [Blue Cross/Blue Shield]. As noted below, this is because I was assured that it was OK to ignore the January premium and that the new policy was to begin in February. This was necessary because the invoice for January coverage under Catamount Care was due (and paid) before the invoice for the new BCBS policy under VHC was available.

According to the BCBS notice, "Vermont Health Connect has reported that full payment has not been received for your health insurance."

Please resolve this.


Subject: RE: Starting coverage in February
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2014
From: AHS - VT Health Connect
To: '[ ]' <[ ]@[ ].net>

Dear [ ],

Thank you for contacting us. We're very sorry that you received the past due notice from BCBS. I see that you have paid each of your invoices well in advance of the due dates, and as you noted, the fault is entirely ours for not yet making that change to your coverage start date. Unfortunately, we don't have that functionality to make the change once your plan is in force, but we are working on it and will correct your account as soon as we are able.

You actually have a 90 day grace period, so there is no danger of your plan being terminated as long as you keep paying your monthly premiums as you have been doing.

Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

Kind regards,

Vermont Health Connect


And so I have been paying the monthly premium to Vermont Health Connect, ignoring the monthly "PAST DUE/NOTICE OF TERMINATION" notices from BCBS.

Secure in the knowledge that we do indeed have continuing "affordable health insurance" (which Vermont was already providing for almost everybody, effectively and without major problems: the "Catamount Care" referred to above). Secure, that is, as long as we would never need it, as it turned out.

I had an annual check-up scheduled in early October and was told by the doctor's office that a check of insurance status revealed it to be "pending". For that reason, they would not be able to submit the bill. I learned from a call to BCBS on Oct. 1 that "pending" in this case meant that I was behind in payments, because they still considered my coverage to have begun on Jan. 1 instead of Feb. 1, and therefore still expected an extra month of payment. In other words, despite the reassurance from Vermont Health Connect 8 months before that "we are working on it and will correct your account as soon as we are able", they still had not. Furthermore, the reassurance that "there is no danger of your plan being terminated as long as you keep paying your monthly premiums as you have been doing" turned out to be meaningless, since my regular doctor wouldn't risk billing to a "pending" insurance account. The person I talked with at BCBS helpfully transfered me to Vermont Health Connect, noting that she had heard that they may be "a few months" behind.

Thank goodness we have not been in any emergency situation or in urgent need of a prescription refill.

From Vermont Health Connect I now (!) learned that changing the start date required a new application because it is a "change of status". And so I was transfered to another office to handle that. The woman there, like everyone I have talked with at every step, it should be said, was very helpful and was able to use the original application to make a new one for coverage starting Feb. 1, ie 8 months earlier, to expire Dec. 31, ie in less than 3 months.

Now we were expected to have "new" insurance active in a couple of weeks, a new card in a week after that. Just in time to start the whole charade over again for coverage next year.

We essentially have had no usable insurance coverage since Feb. 1, despite regularly paying monthly premiums for it. What surprises lie in wait for us in the new cycle beginning Jan. 1, 2015, with a promised automatic renewal of coverage? Or in April, when the IRS recalculates everybody's share of their previous year of premiums?

The faster we move to a single payer system the better! Federally, Medicare was supposed to steadily expand in the 1960s to cover everyone, not just the elderly (but then it would have covered draft dodgers and black panthers along with "deserving" citizens like oneself). If the US government can not or will not provide that very basic service to all those who live within its borders, then the states need to go it alone. And I mean not just setting up some mash-up of federal support and state-provided health coverage, although that would be a welcome step despite the likelihood of its being as dysfunctional as the current private-public mash-up — I mean breaking away altogether from the government of Washington. Because health care is just one of its many failures, and war to gain world hegemony seems to be its only goal, war ordnance its only economy, squandering our common wealth as well as our lives, sacrificing them to an end that can only be catastrophic.

[Update:  Two and a half weeks later, we've received no notice about the "new" coverage, but instead a series of premium invoices (up to 4 so far), each one different from the last and none of them reflecting a resolution.]

[Update:  Four weeks later, we haven't received a new insurance card or any notice about the "new" coverage.]

[Update:  A month later, BCBS remains uninformed of the change, which Vermont Health Connect says was "finalized" on Oct. 14 (under a different "service request" no. than the "confirmation no." originally provided).]

[Update:  Five weeks later, the "change of circumstance center" has promised to notify BCBS today, which was supposed to have been done on Oct. 14 but was not. The reason another 2 weeks was required in the first place was because there is a child on S-CHIP, and that "start of coverage" (despite being continually covered under the auspices of the state for some 13 years already) was not supposed to change from January to February, so a new "change of circumstance" (the only change being the system's, not ours) had to be created to disinclude the S-CHIP part — it was done, but then someone neglected to tell BCBS. Oh, and a new "master case" number. Could it be more complicated? More counterproductive (unless, of course, prevention of care is precisely the intention)??]

[Update:  Five-and-a-half weeks later, BCBS remains uninformed of the change, which the Vermont Health Connect "change center" now says was "finalized" on Oct. 29 and confirmed that it was sent to "billing" who would then notify BCBS, which process could take 15 days, likely more as they are busy starting enrollment for next year. Vermont Health Connect customer service confirms the change, that the start date has been changed, billing reconciled, and BCBS informed. However, BCBS finds no change -- and it's not on the latest weekly confirmation list from Vermont Health Connect, waiting to be processed. BCBS suggests checking in another week.]

[Update:  A month and a half later, the "last invoice for 2014" has arrived, showing a "balance forward" of 10 times the new premium amount, presumably representing the charges for February through November of our "new" coverage, ignoring the year of payments for our "old" coverage for those same months. Then, inexplicably, the amount due adds only the SCHIP charge, not the next month's premium. Aieee!]

Further notes from 2015: 

May 13:  "Use this updated form [1095-A] when you complete IRS Form 8962 and file your federal income tax return [last month]."

Premiums due:  January 26: $627.52. February 26: $313.76. March 26: ($2.30). April 26: $311.46. May 26: ($238.36). June 26: $75.40. July 26: $313.76.

June 8:  Notice from Blue Cross–Blue Shield: "Payment Past Due." Go to newly launched Vermont Health Connect web site for any information that might be there: My Health Plans: "No current plans found."

June 25:  "A refund has been issued to you in the amount of $20.00."

July 16:  Notice from IRS: "Our records show that you did not file a 2014 tax return to reconcile advance payments of the Premium Tax Credit. … We received a copy of form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, issued to you by your Health Insurance Marketplace showing … You are required to file a a 2014 federal tax return with Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, to reconcile …" So it seems that filing Form 8962 with the correct information from one's own records — because the 1095-A form originally provided was obviously incorrect — instead of the updated 1095-A that came a month after the tax filing deadline (and which was still incorrect) [see May 13, above] is not recognized as a possibility, is as good as failing to file at all, and in fact nullifies the 1040 and everything as if never filed at all!

See a new report from 2016:  Vermont Health Connect: “Current wait times are 90 minutes”

July 26, 2023

Climate change–fueled weather demands action now, sez Sarah Copeland Hanzas — annotated

Sarah Copeland Hanzas was a Vermont House member for 18 years before being elected as Secretary of State in 2022. This commentary, reproduced here in full with notes following, was published in several news outlets (without the notes).

Vermonters have always rallied to protect and care for our friends and neighbors in a crisis. I am grateful for Governor Scott’s calm and measured response when Vermont is in crisis. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Governor Scott followed the science and took the appropriate steps, despite considerable opposition,a to keep Vermonters safe and to prevent a greater tragedy. Now, we need the same courage and focus as we grapple with flood recovery and take action to address the underlying forces of climate changeb that drove its severity.

So far this summer, Vermont has seen a record heat wave in May,c the state’s worst air quality in history in June, and recently a record rainstorme that dumped as much as two months of normal rain on towns around the state in just over a day.

And this is clearly the new normalf for Vermont as the impacts of global warming hit us. Nolan Atkins, the former chair of the atmospheric sciences department at Vermont State University said: “In a warmer world and a warmer climate, [we should expect] these more frequent and more intense weather events.”

Yet despite the science, and clear evidence of increasingly severe weather, the Governor has vetoed every major piece of climate legislation the Vermont Legislature has put before him in recent years. We need Governor Scott to direct state agencies to recognize the climate emergency and treat climate action with the same emergency response and focus we are seeing right now during the floods, and that we did during Vermont’s Covid response.g

As the former co-chair of the Legislature’s Climate Solution Caucus, I traveled throughout the state listening to Vermonters’ concerns about the looming impacts of global warming and the urgent need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. I heard over and over that if we don’t act on climate and curb our emissions we will run out of time; we will be too consumed by the effects of climate change to focus on transitioning to renewable energy.h

I have seen our pragmatic Governor do a policy pivot when faced with an emergency. After the shooting threat in Fair Haven High School, he was a constructive and supportive partner for meaningful gun safety reforms.

It is time for the Governor to pivot on climate policy. There are a few simple things the Governor can do right now to make a difference and help Vermont be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And more importantly, prevent greater tragedy.

First, the Governor should direct his appointees on the Climate Council to shift to an emergency response.i The most immediate and constructive action he could take at this moment is to make sure Vermonters whose heating systems were destroyed in the flood are encouraged and incentivized to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.j Let’s help provide loaner heating systems to get through the upcoming heating season and accelerate our investment in our green energy workforce. This will not only speed up Vermont’s green energy transition but also create jobs; we can combat climate change and help Vermont’s economy at the same time.

Second, direct his Agency of Natural Resources and Department of Public Service to become willing partners in implementing the Clean Heat Standard to help all Vermonters transition from fossil fuels for heating and cooling their homes and businesses. Over one-third of Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions come from heating and cooling our homes and businesses. Despite this, Governor Scott and his administration have inexplicably been an anchor in getting this groundbreaking initiative into action.

And third, support legislation to ensure Vermont gets 100% of its electricity from renewable energy by the end of the decade. With the passage of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, wind and solar power are cheaper than everk and price competitive with new natural gas. Vermont needs to do its part to clean up its electric sector and end our environmentally unjust practice of importing our power from oil- and natural gas–burning plants in low-income communities in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

I’m not saying it’s simple and easy, I understand firsthand the challenges rural Vermonters face in heating their homes and getting to work. But if we think transitioning to renewable heating and transportation is inconvenient or possibly a little more expensive, just look around at what we will be facing if we don’t.l Can we afford not to?


a“despite considerable opposition” — Actually, the considerable opposition was that he wasn’t draconian and dictatorial enough.

b“to address the underlying forces of climate change” — The earth revolves around the sun with a tilted axis, thus causing the seasons, and turns on that axis, thus causing day and night. These cause weather.

c“Vermont has seen a record heat wave in May” — And then it was over. We’re looking at a rather cool end of July and early August.

d“the state’s worst air quality in history in June” — Canadian forest fires, which we can hardly do anything about.

e“a record rainstorm” — Well, no, it wasn’t.

f“clearly the new normal” — If you were born yesterday.

g“We need Governor Scott to direct state agencies to recognize the climate emergency and treat climate action with the same emergency response and focus we are seeing right now during the floods, and that we did during Vermont’s Covid response.” — That “emergency response” to Covid was futile and harmful, as indeed is almost all of the “climate legislation” that the legislature has passed. In fact, Montpelier, along with other towns on rivers regularly floods and businesses bounce back. But they are only now recovering from that Covid response and don’t have the resilience and resources they would have otherwise.

h“transitioning to renewable energy” — From normal New England weather to CO₂ emissions as the culprit to renewable energy as the solution, this is a study in non sequitur. It is telling that as co-chair of the Legislature’s Climate Solution Caucus, she heard only people clamoring for what she is here clamoring for.

i“shift to an emergency response” — If everyone is already clamoring, it most certainly does not require an emergency response to force it on them. This “emergency response” is required precisely because people like to make their own decisions about how their homes are heated, weighing costs and benefits for their individual situation. Again, that “Covid emergency” was similarly imposed precisely to prevent people from making personal risk-benefit decisions, even to punish people for insisting on their right to make such decisions for themselves.

j“replace fossil fuels with renewable energy” — What is she talking about? She means replacing systems that burn fuel on site to provide warmth with electric space heaters. Granted, in Vermont, much of that electricity is from Canadian hydro, but the expanded demand of electric heat (and cars) will be provided by burning natural gas, converting a fraction of the released energy to electricity, transporting that electricity over powerlines at further loss, and then converting it back to heat. The inefficiency compared to burning fossil fuels on site is staggering, not to mention insanely bad policy.

Furthermore, every Vermonter knows that they need to be prepared for power outages, which can sometimes last for days. Depending on electricity for anything that you don’t have to is simply foolish. You will effectively be replacing efficient fossil-fuel systems with increased reliance on fossil fuel–powered back-up generators.

k“wind and solar power are cheaper than ever” — In fact, wind and solar are only getting more expensive. They completely depend on subsidies from taxpayers and ratepayers to be built at all.

l“just look around at what we will be facing if we don’t” — And we close with the veiled threat, based on the false premises the whole essay started with. “We’ll make sure you can’t afford not to make the choices we make for you.”

[[[[ ]]]]

From The History of Athens Vermont, Lora Wyman, 1963:

«Freshets and floods occurred too frequently down the years to mention more than a sample of them. A few that did the most extensive damage to Athens were the freshet of Oct. 4, 1869; the great blizzard of Mar. 12, 1888; the floods of 1927, 1936; and the great hurricane of 1938. Practically all adults living today can remember the destruction caused by the hurricane of 1938. In Athens countless trees were blown down, the roof on Henry Ward’s milk house and one side of the barn were blown off. A small bridge near Camp Nai-neh-ta was washed away and abutments on others were weakened. About one-half mile of the main road to Cambridgeport, parallel with the brook above Brookside bungalow was washed away. Traffic was detoured around the road past the David Karlson farm. Two of Ned Wyman’s 10′ × 12′ chicken houses on the lower road, floated down stream, one lodging in a tangle of brush. Next morning, expecting to find the 50 or more chicks housed inside drowned, Mr. Wyman happily discovered them all perched on the roost above the water, waiting for breakfast.»

Also see: 1816: The Year Without a Summer

March 5, 2007

Progressive Vermont ...

People are confused. There was quite a hullabaloo created recently by John Odum, membership director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, upset that there are secessionist movements in the world that could be characterized as racist or fascist. Second Vermont Republic is also a secessionist movement. Therefore, according to Odum -- and even his nemesis, the otherwise perceptive "Snarky Boy" -- Second Vermont Republic is racist and fascist, despite all evidence to the contrary. Snarky Boy even equates Second Vermont Republic with the homophobic "Take Back Vermont" campaign of several years ago.

Which is as absurd as the following editorial from northeastern Vermont's main newspaper, the Caledonian-Record, last Friday, a hate-filled effort to portray Cindy Sheehan as hateful for working to end the war on Iraq, the killing of both Iraqis and Americans.
On Saturday, Cindy Sheehan will appear and speak at St. Johnsbury School. Sheehan is a notoriously controversial peace activist who is so vicious and non-discriminating in her hate-filled broadsides that she once called the Islamo-fascist militants who are killing our troops, "freedom fighters."

These are the same people who killed her son, Casey. We aren't interested in Sheehan's desperate quest for a fame that diminishes every day for her. We want some answers that, so far, no one is willing to provide.

Does the school board have a policy regarding political use of its public buildings? Is the school automatically available to any group who asks to use it, regardless of their political or religious or other controversial orientation? Who asked, and how did they ask, to use our public school for this highly partisan political purpose? Is this group paying for use of the school? If so, how much? If not, why not?

Who on the St. Johnsbury School Board said "Yes" to this petition? Would the same people who approved this group OK a petition to use the facilities from the Ku Klux Klan? Or from the American Man/Boy Love Association? Or from the Aryan Brotherhood? Or from the American Nazi Party?
Or from Second Vermont Republic, one of whose advisors is Dan DeWalt of Newfane, who invited Sheehan to Vermont??

George Bush and Dick Cheney killed Cindy Sheehan's son, a victim along with the Iraqi people (not to mention the American people) of corporatist (i.e., fascist) imperialism. Continuing acquiescence to their war is killing yet more. That is a political statement and ought to be debated. Those who, like the infantile, reactionary, and just plain stupid about so much publisher of the Caledonian-Record, would silence that debate have forgotten what democracy is. It is the duty of citizens to question our government. That's what participation means.

Rather than shout this "editorial" out from his hideyhole, demanding answers, why didn't he act like a journalist and call up the school and school board? That's no fun! Where would the hate be that keeps the system going?

Similarly, John Odum on his up-to-now irrelevant blog reproduced without question the accusations of another's -- anonymous, though likely himself -- blog about Second Vermont Republic and demanded answers. Why didn't he simply call up and ask them the questions he had? Because he, too, is infantile, reactionary, and just plain stupid about so much.

The fact is, we are all shut out of our own democracy. Impeachment bills languish in statehouses because the Democratic party (and "Independent" Bernie Sanders) run from their duty to challenge a tyrant (to which power each of them obviously aspires -- any problem they have with Bush and Cheney's crimes is envy, not horror -- thus they bully state legislators to not act according to the people's clear mandate). Rightwingers can only hurl invective at those who take their responsibility as citizens seriously, who don't on the one hand fetishize power and on the other worry about the sensitivities of our military families. The "vital center" does the same. The left is famous for splintering into accusatory camps. We are as occupied a country as Iraq, turning on each other because our government gives us the finger at every turn. The crumbs are meager, but even while we fight for our share, we ought to be able to recognize the crime that only crumbs are given us -- by people whose power we pay for and is in our name!

Hating is easy, to defend your tribe's claim of crumbs. Democracy has become something to fear. Second Vermont Republic advocates a vital democracy, in which everyone's voices would be part of our self-government, whose purpose will be to serve the people, not wage war. There won't be a Democratic/Republican Party to keep us distracted from the real work of the occupying power. Most people wouldn't know what to do. Freedom is something else they fear. In Vermont as much as anywhere in this dying republic.

Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

October 8, 2007

NO industrial wind turbines in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

Make sure the organizations listed below understand that they need to stand against industrial wind energy development in the Northeast Kingdom to protect the beauty and character of the area.

From "Vermont's Northeast Kingdom", National Geographic Geotourism Map Guide:

Also see

Geotourism Travelers' Tips:

1. What is geotourism?

The formal definition is, "Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of the place being visited -- its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents." In other words, travel for people who like distinctive places and care about protecting them.

2. Who are geotravelers?

... they support local businesses and travel organizations that care about conservation, preservation, beautification, and benefits to local people.

3. How can I be a good geotraveler in the Northeast Kingdom?

The Kingdom got its name from its natural beauty. Residents are determined to retain that beauty. ...

9. What should I do, and not do, if I want to buy property or build a home in the Kingdom?

The Geotourism Alliance is committed to preserving sense of place in the Kingdom. If you decide to purchase a home or move to the area, please consider local values and the effect you and your house have on the landscape, culture, environment, and communities. ...

[Who makes up the Geotourism Alliance?]

National Geographic
Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association
Nulhegan Gateway Association
University of Vermont Tourism Data Center
Cabot Creamery
Connecticut River Byway
Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium
Kingdom Trails Association
Northeastern Vermont Development Association
Northeast Kingdom Collaborative
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail
NorthWoods Stewardship Center
Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
USDA Rural Development
Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife
Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing
Vermont Fresh Network
Vermont Maple Foundation
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
Vermont WoodNet

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont

June 10, 2011

Wind energy and cows in Vermont

Dear Governor Shumlin —

I just heard about your recognition of Global Wind (Power) Day: June 15. This was on the same day that I was prompted to compare Vermont wind energy's potential effect on greenhouse gas emissions with that of the roughly 150,000 cows in Vermont.

Granted that the global wind industry is lucrative for NRG Systems and Northern Power Systems among others, but considering the huge impact of erecting wind turbines on Vermont's ridgelines, is the potential environmental benefit worth it?

The Public Service Board has approved 145 MW of new wind projects in Vermont (in Sheffield, Milton, Readsboro, and Lowell). At a capacity factor of 25%, they would be expected to produce (and thereby theoretically displace) 317,550 MWh per year, or less than 5% of Vermont's total electricity production (or just over 5% of the state's total demand).

That in itself is a rather low number, considering the substantial impacts of these facilities. The potential environmental benefit, however, is even smaller when it is remembered that Vermont is ranked by the U.S. Energy Information Administration as 51st in CO₂ emissions from electricity generation.

The EIA estimates Vermont's CO₂ emissions from electricity generation to be about 10 million kg annually, or 1,430 g/MWh.

Now for the cows: An average cow is estimated to emit about 275 kg of methane gas annually, and methane has 25 times the greenhouse gas effect of CO₂. Along with its exhalations of CO₂, the CO₂-equivalent emissions from one cow is therefore about 8,000 kg annually.

Conclusion: 145 MW of wind in Vermont will theoretically save just over 450,000 kg of CO₂ emissions, which is the equivalent of removing 56 cows out of the state (even fewer if their manure is factored in).

Nobody can pretend that the severe alteration of ridgeline ecosystems, habitat destruction and fragmentation, direct harm to wildlife, and aesthetic vandalism that are a necessary part of these projects are truly balanced by such inconsequential benefits.

Formula:  1 MW installed wind capacity in Vermont = 0.4 cow

Tweet:  145MW of new wind power in Vermont will have GHG equivalent of removing 58 cows.

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September 18, 2012

The happy truths of single payer

Vermont Leads and Vermont for Single Payer have produced a brochure (click here to download) addressing frequently raised questions:

Green Mountain Care will provide health insurance for all Vermonters in 2017. The State of Vermont is currently researching a proposed benefit package and a plan for paying for Green Mountain Care. We fully expect these details to be public by January 2013 at the latest.

While this new system is being developed, opponents of health care reform have been spreading myths about single payer. Here’s THE STRAIGHT SCOOP:

MYTH: “Single payer will cost us more!”

The taxes for Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) will REPLACE private health insurance premiums and deductibles. With the increased efficiency of a single payer system, expect to pay less for health care.

MYTH: “Doctors will leave the state!”

Doctors say they will move to Vermont for a single-payer system. The list of doctors is growing.

MYTH: “Our healthcare coverage will get worse!”

Under Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) benefits will apply equally to every Vermonter. State law requires the benefit package of Green Mountain Care at a minimum to include primary and specialty care, mental health and substance abuse, hospitals and prescription drugs. Under Green Mountain Care everyone will be eligible for these broad benefits.

MYTH: “There will be delays to see our doctor.”

We experience delays now for many reasons: patients put off treatment because of high costs, insurance companies create roadblocks, and sometimes the resources just aren’t there. The efficiency of a single payer system will ensure that the money we have is spent on the care we need, and not on insurance company middlemen.

MYTH: “We won’t have free choice of doctor or hospital.”

Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) will provide free choice of doctor and hospital, unlike now when private insurers limit choice to suit themselves.

MYTH: “Government bureaucrats will stand between us and our doctors, preventing us from getting necessary care.”

Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) will remove insurance company bureaucrats now standing between us and our doctor. It is rare for enrollees in Vermont’s existing public health care programs like Dr. Dynasaur to be denied services. We expect this to be the case under Green Mountain Care as well.

MYTH: “Medicare will change.”

Basic Medicare will stay the same. Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) will add more benefits to Medicare. [Medicare, by the way, is a working example in the U.S. of single payer; it was meant to expand to include all, not just older, citizens. The VA system is a working example in the U.S. of socialized medicine.]

MYTH: “More private insurance companies mean lower costs.”

There is no evidence for this claim. More insurance competition does not result in lower health care costs for everyone. [Health care is not like a consumer commodity, because it is necessary and competition actually drives prices up.]

MYTH: “Under Single Payer care will be rationed!”

Green Mountain Care (Vermont Single Payer) will not be set up to ration care. It will use existing dollars more efficiently to ensure that every Vermonter gets necessary health care.

human rights, Vermont

July 27, 2006

Wind power won't replace Vermont Yankee

The July 24 Times Argus (Montpelier & Barre, Vt.) reported on a campaign event in Putney for Bernie Sanders (running for U.S. Senate) and Peter Welch (running for U.S. House). Besides expressing his impatience with those calling for Bush et al.'s impeachment (not to mention conviction and ouster) (and which the Vermont Democrats had a chance to instigate but then backed off), Sanders spoke to the understandably strongly anti-nuclear crowd about the nearby plant:
Sanders said he had been opposed to the increased power production at the Vernon plant, and he was opposed to extending its federal operating license beyond 2012, when it is due to expire.

That statement drew the largest applause of the evening.

But Sanders said that if Vermont Yankee was shut down, Vermont had to find alternative sources of electricity -- and soon. Sanders said he was a strong supporter of wind energy ...
There's the rub. Vermont Yankee provides a third of the electricity used in Vermont. That's an average load of about 215 megawatts (forget about how much it is likely to have increased by 2012). By the productivity record of the Searsburg wind power facility (average output of 21% capacity), it would require 1,024 megawatts of wind power to produce that average load. That's over 500 turbines of the size currently proposed in Sheffield and Sutton (26 400-feet-high 2-megawatt machines over 3 ridges).

But unlike the steady supply from Vermont Yankee, the energy from wind would be intermittent and variable and would rarely coincide with actual demand. For planning purposes, most grid managers (as in a recent New York study) assume an effective capacity for wind of one-third its average output. That is, Vermont would actually need to plan to erect 3,072 megawatts of wind -- more than 1,500 Sheffield-size turbines -- to replace the energy we use from Vermont Yankee.

But that still wouldn't be enough. The assumption of effective capacity only applies when the penetration of wind is well within the excess capacity of the system, when the unpredictable load from wind can be adequately balanced. Once the system has to rely on wind to actually meet demand -- as in attempting to replace a base load provider of a third of Vermont's electricity needs -- wind power's effective capacity starts heading towards zero. This has been found independently by Irish and German government studies.

In other words, when wind capacity exceeds the capacity of other sources on the system to cover for it, its true value is revealed. If you could cover the hills with giant strobe-lit wind turbines, along with their roads, transformers, and high-voltage power lines, you would still be using the same sources as before to get your electricity. Only the lazy, insane, and greedy could support such a destructive boondoggle.

Closing down Vermont Yankee would benefit all of us, but industrial wind isn't what's going to make that possible.

wind power, wind energy, Vermont, environment, environmentalism

February 3, 2013

Vermont Senators defend “rural tradition” of military-style assault weapons

From The Valley News, Tuesday, Jan. 29 [comments below]:
Gun control advocates in the Upper Valley are criticizing Democrats in the Vermont Senate for abruptly withdrawing a bill that would have banned the sale or manufacture of assault weapons before the legislation even had a chance to be discussed at a public hearing.

The bill, initially filed by Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth, D-Burlington, would have prohibited the manufacture, possession and transfer of semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition, and made it a crime for a person to leave a firearm accessible to a child. ...

Caledonia state Sen. Joe Benning, R-Lyndon, had lunch with Baruth a few days before he pulled the bill, and told him he wouldn’t support the assault weapons ban. Baruth then shared with him that he couldn’t find anyone in the Democratic caucus who would support his bill, either.

“When he recognized there was no support for his bill, he decided to withdraw it so not to cause any conflict or discussion,” [emphasis added] said Benning, whose district includes several Orange County towns in the Bradford area.

Numerous Democrats interviewed said they wouldn’t have supported the bill if it had gone forward, many citing the rural nature of Vermont life.

Benning said he has received hundreds of emails from constituents and every email was opposing the bill, which Benning said he found shocking.

State Sen. Dick McCormack, D-Bethel, said that in 23 years, he has never supported gun control in Vermont, and it’s because Vermont is a rural area and firearms are part of rural life.

State Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Danville, said she wouldn’t have supported the bill because assault weapons are not the only way that people can harm or kill others. Take Melissa Jenkins for example. The St. Johnsbury Academy teacher was strangled to death last year and her death did not involve a firearm.

“I wish we could legislate (against) evil,” said Kitchel, a Caledonia senator also representing the Bradford-area towns.

And while Kitchel understands that there are a lot of gun owners in Vermont and gun laws are relaxed, she said there is no correlation between the number of gun owners in Vermont and gun violence. ...

Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Quechee, said he too wouldn’t have supported Baruth’s bill because he said he doesn’t want the Senate to have a reactive approach to what happened in Newtown, Conn.

Instead, he sided with Benning and said that the Senate should focus on the flaws in the system that allow people with mental illness to have access to guns. ...
If the 2nd amendment protects the right of individuals to own military-style assault rifles, why not rocket launchers, mortars, cannons, tanks? Weapons of mass destruction don't belong in the hands of individuals. This is not (yet) central Africa or Somalia. "Rural traditions" of hunting and shooting have nothing to do with assault weapons. And Adam Lanza's mom was considered to be a "responsible gun owner"; he himself was well trained to handle those guns "responsibly". Could it be that owning such guns — especially more than one — is itself a sign of mental instability? Or at least a dangerous antisocial proclivity? Or at least a very risky enabler of great potential harm?

Civilization is about limits: freedom, not license. No person is free when anyone can be a tyrant. Baruth's bill was withdrawn "so not to cause any conflict or discussion" — in other words, in cowardly capitulation to well armed bullies. That is indeed more suggestive of eastern Congo than open progressive democratic Vermont.

And U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy going on, like fellow "liberal" Jane Kitchel above, about how special Vermont is with so many guns and relatively little gun violence (ignoring its leading suicide rate) ignores the obvious fact, which Leahy just helped promote nationally, that Vermont is the go-to state in the region to load up on destructive weaponry. (This "straw purchasing" was noted in the Valley News article by former Norwich Selectwoman Sharon Racusin.) (And of course, Leahy's "job" as a senior senator is mostly to land military contracts for Vermont companies, and part of the military economy is our arming the world, including with "small" arms.)

Finally, Joe Benning (and Kitchel with a more blatant diversion) echos the inanity that "guns don't kill people, people kill people". And people with assault weapons are able to kill lots of people. A letter in today's Valley News similarly insisted that guns are just tools, that we shouldn't blame the gun any more than we blame the car in an accident. But a gun is a tool with only one purpose, a deadly purpose. A civilized society requires cars to be safe so that their use does not bring undue danger to the public. Likewise, a civilized society limits the deadliness of weaponry in the hands of its citizens.

That lawmakers fear even talking about reasonable limits that do not threaten in any way hunting and other recreational shooting, nor the defense of one's home or animals, the "right to bear arms", is itself frightening.

[Note:  The Valley News carried an editorial on Saturday about "this unseemly bit of moral retreat".

human rights, Vermont]

September 13, 2006

An unseemly campaign

"VPIRG faces a good old-fashioned conflict of interest, just the sort of thing it was organized to protect us from."

Editorial by C.B. of the Barton (Vt.) Chronicle:

As its name implies, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) is founded on the principle that, beyond the competing interests that run our society and control our lives, there is a public interest that is all too often neglected.

... Using weapons no more powerful than a knack for publicity and an ability to bring vocal citizens into the halls of government and, more rarely, onto the streets, VPIRG has brought the public to the table on a long series of important issues.

And then there's wind power. ...

Late last month VPIRG announced that, in a "report card" on the efforts of northeastern states and provinces to combat global warming, Vermont's grade has slipped from a C to a C-minus.

The reason, VPIRG Field Director Drew Hudson said in a press release, was clear:

Governor Jim Douglas has failed to keep his promises on energy, and "as a result Vermont lags behind our neighbors in permitting commercial wind power and developing a comprehensive climate change action plan." ...

According to the report [the product of 18 environmental organizations in the Northeast], Vermont's "grader" was the Vermont Public Interest Research and Education Fund. The phone number it lists is VPIRG's number in Montpelier.

Two years ago, VPIRG said that 15 percent of Vermont's electricity should be generated in-state by windmills.

Earlier last month in its "Vision for Vermont's Energy Future" VPIRG increased that to 20 percent. ...

In a chapter called "Profile of a Vermont Windfarm" it gives a glowing account of UPC Vermont's plans to erect 26 wind turbines in Sheffield and Sutton.

It notes that "voters in Sheffield, where 20 of the 26 turbines will be located, voted by a strong majority in favor of the project (120-93)."

It fails to note that Sutton residents voted six to one against the proposal at their Town Meeting in March. ...

The problem lies on VPIRG's board of directors. Two members, Matt Rubin and David Rapaport, are the principals in East Haven Windfarm, the company that wants to put four demonstration wind towers on East Mountain and, ultimately, erect 50 windmills on the ridge lines of Essex County.

Mr. Rubin, president of East Haven Windfarm, is former chairman of the VPIRG board. Mr. Rapaport, Windfarm's vice president, is VPIRG's former executive director. ...

So it's not about the public interest, after all. VPIRG faces a good old-fashioned conflict of interest, just the sort of thing it was organized to protect us from. ...

In positioning itself as the chief cheerleader for wind power in Vermont, VPIRG has tarnished its own reputation. It may even, in the long run, harm the cause of wind power.

... VPIRG needs to do what it can to fix the problem, but it's pretty late in the game. Rather than purge its board, maybe it should just withdraw from the wind power debate, and leave the field to those whose arguments won't carry even a whiff of conflicted interests.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, ecoanarchism

June 28, 2006

Scudder Parker running for wind turbine salesman

Scudder Parker for Governor:
My Vision for Vermont's Energy Future


Just as healthcare is a right, not a privilege, I believe that all Vermonters have shared, basic rights concerning energy.

Vermont Energy Empowerment Principles
  • Reliability: All Vermonters should have access to secure and reliable heat, electricity and transportation, even in the face of external problems such as market changes, supply disruptions or political instability abroad.

  • Security: All Vermonters (individuals, communities and businesses) should be able to stay warm, keep the lights on, and get from one place to another without having to sacrifice other basic needs.

  • Responsibility: Vermonters have the right to an energy supply that reflects concern for economic strength, the environment and their communities.

  • Leadership ...
Energy problems facing Vermont have been left unaddressed:
  • Rising energy costs and price volatility.

  • Higher demand, fewer traditional resources, looming threat of Peak Oil.

  • End of contracts with Hydro-Québec and Vermont Yankee.

  • Negative effects of global warming theaten Vermont's economy (i.e.: ski industry, maple trees, agriculture).

  • Unreliable and strained electric grid.
... [T]he Douglas administration has proposed wind-siting regulations that are the most sweeping and complex of any regulations in the history of the state.

... In my first year in office, I will help businesses stabilize energy costs and create jobs by implementing the following: ... A plan to promote -- not discourage -- renewable energy, including wind, thus creating more jobs and protecting our environment.
Most of what Parker says and proposes is spot on (about health care, too). But his "leadership" on wind power has obviously been hijacked by the industry. Tom Gray of the American Wind Energy Association, after all, is a county chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party. The comments below pertain only to electricity and the push for big wind (Parker doesn't even mention home generation).

Reliability: Wind turbines generate only two-thirds of the time. They generate at or above their annual average (which is 21% of capacity at Searsburg) only one-third of the time. They respond to the minute-to-minute fluctuations of the wind, not to user demand.

Security: Not only will industrial wind facilities not "keep the lights on" (see Reliability, above), their erection requires many Vermonters to "sacrifice other basic needs," such as health, wildness, and rural tranquility.

Responsibility: Two-thirds or more of the cost of erecting industrial wind facilities is paid for by tax- and ratepayers to ensure handsome returns for private investors. Yet they do not add reliability or security to the electrical supply.

Rising and volatile prices: As they have discovered in Judith Gap, Montana, wind power on the grid has added substantial variability to the system which must be balanced by increased purchase of energy on the spot market.

Fewer resources: Vermont uses almost no fossil fuel for electricity. Even if we did, wind's intermittency and variability ensure that the use of other fuels is not reduced. Germany, with about a third of the world's installed wind capacity, is planning new coal plants as much as ever.

End of contract and license: The contract with Hydro-Québec will have to be renewed. How hard is that? And though it ought to be shut down, there's no sign that Vermont Yankee is going to be.

Global warming: In Vermont, our greenhouse gas emissions have almost nothing to do with electricity. They're from transport and heating, which Parker does address. In the realm of electricity, however, this issue requires a national and global effort to reduce consumption and clean up generation. New more sustainable sources of energy will be a part of that, but industrial wind power is a symbolic but ultimately meaningless and destructive sideshow.

Strained grid: See Reliability, above. Giant wind turbines will strain it even more, with huge surges and dips that are largely unpredictable.

Regulations: Vermont's environmental law, Act 250, effectively prevents development of the upper elevations and ridgelines of our mountains. Many towns have zoning laws further protecting such areas. But those are precisely the locations targeted by wind developers. In the Section 248 guidelines for public utilities, there was no mention of the special circumstances of large-scale wind plant siting. The state Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) determined that industrial wind was incompatible with its mission to preserve state lands for the benefit of all Vermonters. They also emphasize the unique ecosystems of higher elevations and the importance of keeping them undeveloped. As for the public service board, the "sweeping and complex" changes essentially require better public notification and allow a greater area for intervenors, since the sites would be prominent and the machines are so large (and, day and night, move and are lit), and specify that the ANR is an automatic intervenor.

Naturally, the industry does not want a fair process. They want one that they control, like they apparently control Scudder Parker's thinking about big wind. They want us to swallow their pablum about energy costs, jobs, and the environment and not have to show any evidence to back up their claims. They want to industrialize Vermont's mountaintops and don't want any one questioning the usefulness, much less the wisdom, of it.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, animal rights

August 6, 2008

Symington Says

Vermont Democratic Party press release, Aug. 6, 2008:
Symington proposes dramatic shift in energy policy

Speaker of the House Gaye Symington proposed a dramatic shift in Vermont's energy policy today by calling for an aggressive ramp-up of wind power. ...

"Deriving twenty percent of our power from wind generation in ten years is an ambitious, but achievable goal that will jump-start our economy and provide a critically needed new source of power," said Symington. ...

Symington unveiled the second half of her energy plan today on the factory floor of NRG Systems, Inc. in Hinesburg, a major supplier of equipment to the wind power industry that does very little business in Vermont because of the state's lack of wind projects.

"It is simply inexcusable that Vermont derives only 0.2 percent of its electricity from wind. While our neighboring states, oil states and nearly all developed countries are embracing the wisdom of wind power, our Governor stubbornly resists and claims erroneously that Vermonters don't want it. It is time for Jim Douglas to stop tilting at windmills and let me build them instead," Symington said.
Symington for Governor web site:
20% from Wind in Ten Years

Wind power is the fastest growing energy source in the world, but Vermont gets only 0.2% of its power from wind sources. 500 megawatts of wind power would provide approximately 20% of Vermont’s energy needs. ...

To achieve this vision, we must standardize and fast-track the process by which we study, test, plan, obtain public input and issue permits. ...

First, the figures, being careful to avoid using the word "energy" when we mean only electricity, which represents only about a fifth of Vermont's total energy consumption. (So Symington is talking about 20% of 20%, or 4%, a savings we could easily achieve through conservation and efficiency at a fraction of the cost and without having to industrialize our rural and wild landscapes.)

In 2006, Vermont used almost 5,800 gigawatt-hours of electricity. Growing at a very modest 1% annually (2% is the usual national rate used for planning), consumption will be 6,500 GWh in 2018 (ten years from now, Symington's target). Twenty percent of that is 1,300 GWh, representing an average rate (or load) of 150 megawatts (1,300,000 megawatt-hours divided by 8,760, which is the number of hours in a year). The average output of the existing turbines at Searsburg is 21% of their capacity (because the wind doesn't always blow within the range of ideal speeds for the turbines or exactly perpendicular to the ridgelines on which they are erected), so, being generous to the claims of newer technology, let's plan for an average 25% output. That would require 600 MW of wind energy capacity, not the 500 Symington claims.

At today's prices, that would require an investment of $1.2 billion, not counting new and upgraded power lines and substations. Imagine how many homes could be insulated with that money, or rural bus routes established, or trains.

At about six turbines per mile, 600 MW (of 1.5- to 2-MW turbines) would use 50-65 miles of ridgelines. Each turbine needs about 5 acres of clearance around it (for a total of up to 2,000 acres of lost habitat and an impact extending much farther), and the site requires not only massive cut-and-fill but often blasting to create a level area for the huge concrete base and construction/maintenance equipment. The turbines would be accessed by heavy-duty all-season roads, with their own extensive impacts on fragile ecosystems.

"Our governor stubbornly resists and claims erroneously that Vermonters don't want it."

In fact, true to form, Governor Douglas deftly manages to have it both ways. He pays lip service to opposition by the people actually affected by the industrial construction of giant wind turbines, while his Department of Public Service casually supports development applications. It was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that had to halt the UPC/First Wind (who are currently under investigation by the New York Attorney General) project in Sheffield to properly determine the impact on wetlands (until they were forced by Senator Bernie Sanders, pressured by Douglas's Agency of Natural Resources and the developer, UPC, to back off; in keeping with the politicization of public agencies, Vernon Lang, the official from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who took seriously his mandate to protect wetlands and wildlife in the northeast, has been removed from working on wind projects).

Symington is accurate that Vermonters as a whole want wind energy. The vast majority of Vermonters won't ever have to live with the consequences of its visual and auditory intrusion. But in every community that has been threatened by industrial wind energy development, opposition has been clear and well grounded on evidence of big wind's low benefits and substantial adverse impacts.

That is why Symington says "we must standardize and fast-track the process by which we study, test, plan, obtain public input and issue permits." It is to avoid due oversight to protect our ridgelines and wildlife. It is to avoid effective citizen input from the people who would have to live in the shadow of the towering machines, their turning blades day and night, their flashing lights. Vermont, famous for its billboard ban and strict protection of its ridgelines, would throw it all away for a symbolic "feel-good" and ultimately meaningless gesture to "alternative" energy.

Because wind energy is intermittent, highly variable, and generally unpredictable, large amounts of it on the grid would make us more dependent on other sources, not less. And it would force those other sources to be used less efficiently, i.e., with more fuel consumption and more emissions, thus largely defeating the entire purpose of erecting giant wind turbines.

It is not an example of environmental concern to call for discarding a hard-fought rigor in siting industrial structures and infrastructure on prominent and sensitive ridgelines -- especially in the name of supporting an industry that, since the days of Enron, has banked on exaggerated claims and denial of negative impacts. It is politically convenient idiocy.

The fact that it has been difficult to site large-scale wind turbines in Vermont means the regulations are working and the people affected have had a decent chance to weigh in during the decision making.

Symington would fundamentally rewrite Vermont's environmental laws on the dubious and self-serving advice of one industry. That would effectively end any principle with which our natural heritage might be protected from any industry or development. That is why giant energy companies and predators like T. Boone Pickens are so interested in it.

Industrial wind, besides being fraudulent and destructive on its own merits, opens the door to further depredations on the rural character and wilderness of Vermont. And for nothing.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont

June 9, 2011

How many cows is wind energy equal to?

Estimates of methane (CH₄) gas emissions from cows (via belching and farting, not the methane contained in their manure) vary widely, but they generally range between 500 and 1,000 grams/day.

Cows also exhale carbon dioxide (CO₂): about 2,000-4,000 g/d.

Methane is considered to be a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO₂, about 25 times. So a single cow emits 14,500-29,000 g CO₂-equivalent/d.

In Vermont, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity generation emits an average of about 27,500,000 g CO₂/d, having the same greenhouse gas effect of 950-1,900 cows.

There are about 150,000 cows in Vermont. Therefore, they produce 80-160 times as much greenhouse gas as the state's electricity production.

In the spirit of the wind industry's totting up equivalences for their turbines' production of electricity (never mind that they fail to show such actual reductions), what is the cow-equivalence of wind turbines in Vermont? (Wayne Gulden in Ontario is the source of this idea.)

Vermont's 10 billion g/y CO₂ emissions from electricity generation is from about 7,000,000 MWh, i.e., 1,430 g/MWh.

At a (generous) 25% capacity factor, a 1-MW wind turbine produces 2,190 MWh/y, therefore theoretically (ignoring the inefficiencies of the grid in coping with wind's variable feed) displacing 3,131,700 g CO₂/y. One cow produces 5,292,500-10,585,000 g CO₂e/y.

In Vermont, therefore, 1 MW of installed wind capacity is theoretically equivalent to 0.25-0.5 cows, or about 0.4 — even less if the cows' manure were factored in.

The 40-MW project in Sheffield will be "equivalent" to removing 16 cows from the state.

The 30-MW Searsburg expansion in Readsboro will be "equivalent" to removing 12 cows.

The 10-MW Georgia Mountain project in Milton will be "equivalent" to removing 4 cows.

The 63-MW Lowell Mountain project will be "equivalent" to removing 25 cows.

That's 145 MW of new giant wind projects, for the greenhouse gas equivalence of removing about 58 cows from the state. In other words, giant wind turbines in Vermont — despite substantial destruction of mountain ecosystems, fragmentation of habitat, direct harm to wildlife, and vandalism of fabled mountain views — will have virtually no effect on the state's greenhouse gas emissions.

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Update. Granted, Vermont is not an isolated grid but is part of the ISO New England grid, which in 2015 produced 40,000,000 tons of CO₂, about 750 lb/MWh, of which Vermont contributed less than 0.03%. Therefore, 1 MW of installed wind capacity would theoretically offset 250× more CO₂ than calculated above for Vermont alone, or the equivalent of about 100 cows per MW. On the other hand, Vermont gets most of its electricity from Hydro Quebec (CO₂ free).

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April 2, 2010

Alison Clarkson and School Choice in Vermont

According to reporting by School Choice Vermont, as the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday was reviewing H.782, a bill aiming to consolidate school districts, Representative Alison Clarkson of Woodstock (also representing Reading) "said that we really should be considering consolidation as an opportunity to 'capture' choice kids and bring them back into the system to boost enrollment". (Her recorded comments can be heard in this video from EdWatch Vermont.)

Clarkson's statement is wrong in many ways.

First, the predatory tone. Choice towns have decided to provide that opportunity, not out of malice for the public school system (particularly as most students stay in the public schools -- see the second point), but in the interests of what is best for their citizens. Their students, granted this freedom by the taxpayers of their towns, are not "escapees" to be "captured".

Second, it is short-sighted and ill-informed. Once these few children are forced back into the public school system (where they have already decided they are not well served so that many of them will choose home schooling), enrollment will continue to decline. So, that problem is not at all solved by eliminating choice. Especially as most students from choice towns go to public schools already. In my town's current 8th-grade class, only 3 students out of about 30 are going to private schools: one is going to an expensive boarding school, for which the town will pay only a fraction of the cost, i.e., the student would have gone there anyway; so only 2 students would be "captured", i.e., not given the opportunity of an alternative high school that better serves their needs.

Third, the elitism. Vermont has a unique system in which the students in about 70 towns (13% of the state's students; data from the Vt. Dept. of Education for fiscal year 2010) are able to choose any non-religious high school they want, even in another state, and if it is private, their town will pay up to the state's average public per-pupil spending. As noted in the second point, most students choose the nearest public high school or one that provides bus service to their town. Some choose another public high school that is especially strong in specific areas of interest. A few use the money to help them pay for an expensive private school they would have gone to anyway.

But Vermont's system has allowed the creation of a number of independent high schools that provide much-needed alternatives to the bigger-is-better and too often one-size-fits-all philosophy of the public system. An alternative is thus available to any student in a choice town, not just the children of the rich.

Clarkson, whose sons apparently go to The Groton School in Massachusetts, would deny such educational choice to those who can't afford it. She is simply saying that opportunities beyond the public school system should be available only to the rich.

Finally, the hypocrisy. It was also reported that Clarkson said that we have very good public schools and the legislature should protect them (from people thinking otherwise!). Why don't her sons go to Woodstock Union High School?

There is only harm implied in her comments, not the interests of the educational needs of the children of Vermont.

P.S.  Armando Vilaseca, Vermont's Commissioner of Education, who has expanded a directive to find savings in the school system into an attack against school choice, said last year on Vermont Public Radio that he had never heard of anyone moving to a specific town because of school choice. He is clearly unqualified to be in his position, since school choice is prominently touted in real estate ads and many people do indeed choose their town of residence for that reason. Listen to the comments in this highlights video from the April 6 hearing in Bennington (from Rob Roper of EdWatch Vermont).

P.P.S.  Vilaseca has also expressed his resentment of independent schools that are not required to provide special education or similar services, which he thinks give them an unfair advantage at the expense of the public schools. Academically, however, public schools are not put at a disadvantage, because such services are provided by dedicated staff so that it is not a burden to teachers or an adverse distraction to students. And economically, "tuitioned" students are not taking resources from the public schools for those services, because their parents/guardians are still paying the same school taxes as everyone else. They are still contributing as much as everyone else to support the non-tuitioned responsibilities of the public schools.

tags: human rights, Vermont

February 10, 2009

Vt. Yankee: 2% of New England's power

Yesterday, the State Committee of the Vermont Progressive Party voted unanimously to support the following resolution, modeled after the resolutions being warned across the state for town meeting day:

"The State Committee of the Vermont Progressive Party requests the Vermont Legislature to:

"1. Recognize that the 2% of our New England region’s power grid supply that is provided by Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant can be replaced with a combination of local, renewable electricity and efficiency measures, along with the purchase of hydro generated electricity, and excess power already in the New England electricity market; ..."

Note the welcome lack of hysteria or pushing of other agendas. This is in stark contrast to other campaigners for shutting down Vt. Yankee when its license expires in 2012 (it is, after all, a very old plant that has had numerous problems -- apart from the nuclear waste piling up on the site and the contamination and warming of the Connecticut river).

Most notably, Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) is proposing to replace the ~200 MW that the plant provides to Vermont with several ridgeline wind energy plants, of which it would require ~1,000 MW installed capacity (because of the variability and intermittency of the wind) -- and even then we would still need 200 MW from other sources, because the wind isn't always blowing when it's needed. In fact, 60% of the time wind turbines generate power at a rate below their annual average (which is 21% at Searsburg) and one-third of the time they are idle.

One thousand megawatts of wind means industrializing 100 miles of ridgelines, which are otherwise off limits to development. It means clearing trees, blasting for foundations, cut-and-fill heavy-duty roads, and transmission lines replacing important ecosystems and habitat. And it would not even achieve the intended goal of replacing any other source of electric power.

Therefore, it is refreshing to see the Progressive Party put Vt. Yankee in the context of the actual grid, not just Vermont's small corner of it. It is not a crisis. It does not justify blatant land grabs by profiteering developers and opening up our mountaintops to sprawl. When Vt. Yankee is shut down, Vermont's need to replace our share of it will represent 1% of the New England grid. We are also long-time customers of Hydro Quebec. We should have no trouble finding other sources. With continued efficiency and conservation, it will be even easier.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont

October 10, 2005

"Suitable" sites for industrial wind turbines

The Rutland Herald dismisses concern about the blight of industrial wind turbines on the Vermont's ridgeline, repeating the line that "only a half-dozen or so" sites are "suitable," i.e., strictly in terms of the developers' desires.

In fact, there are currently seven proposed new locations, and at least two others have been mentioned. There is no indication that it would stop there, either. With VPIRG calling for 20% of our electricity to be from wind, development would have to march onward, especially as power demand continues to grow. And success in taking "a half-dozen or so" mountaintops would hardly suggest to the developers that they should stop. After all, concerned citizens will have already made it clear that they consider sprawling power plants on the ridgelines to be a good thing, a wise and sustainable choice. And so their misplaced energy will destroy Vermont.

In addition to the existing 6-MW facility in Searsburg, here are the currently active projects in Vermont:
  • Searsburg, Readsboro (two possible directions, 30-45 MW each)
  • East Mountain in East Haven (4 MW currently awaiting permit, 46 MW planned)
  • East Haven, Ferdinand, Brighton
  • Sheffield, Sutton (52-70 MB, applying for permit Dec. 2005)
  • Mt. Equinox in Manchester (9 MB, applying for permit Oct. 17, 2005)
  • Glebe Mountain in Londonderry (49 MW)
  • Lowell (18-39 MW)
  • Kirby
  • Umpire Mountain in Victory
All of these projects together would at best produce electricity equivalent to less than one-eighth of Vermont's use. And because "spinning standby" has to be kept on line ready for the wind's frequent dropping out, it would displace no other sources. It is not only destructive, it is practically worthless.

The companies involved are Enxco (aka Deerfield Wind in Readsboro) and its reps John Zimmerman and Martha Staskus of Vermont Environmental Research, Green Mountain Power, Vermont Public Power Supply Authority, EMDC (i.e., Mathew Rubin and Dave Rapaport), UPC Wind Partners (Timothy Caffyn, Brian Caffyn, and Peter Gish), Endless Energy (Harley Lee), and Catamount Energy (Rob Charlebois). They are supported by the efforts of trade group Renewable Energy Vermont and its head Andrew Perchlik, Vermonter and communications director for national trade group AWEA Tom Gray, as well as local utilities, self-important architects, and numerous public interest and environmental groups, such as Vermont Public Interest Research Group and the Conservation Law Foundation.

If this juggernaut is not stopped at the gate, it certainly will not stop after "only a half-dozen or so" projects.

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