Chelsea Green Publishing

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Bring Wind Power to Vermont

The people of Vermont have a choice to make. Do we continue with the status quo of generating energy from fossil fuels or do we do our part to stop global warming and move toward wind-generated power? East Haven Windfarm, of Montpelier, is proposing to install four state-of-the-art wind turbines on the summit ridge of East Mountain in East Haven, Vermont–about thirty miles north of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. More than seven miles from the nearest permanent habitation, these wind turbines will gracefully harness the wind to produce up to six megawatts of clean, emission-free power beginning in the fall of 2006. Some Vermont residents worry that the wind turbines will change the landscape of Vermont and obscure our beautiful views. They are trying to stop the East Mountain Project. Chelsea Green’s publisher, Margo Baldwin, came down on the side of wind power in a recent editorial in the Burlington Free Press. Read her editorial below.
In its campaign against clean energy, the Free Press editorial writers once again show they don’t understand the very issues they are trying to explain. Comparing clean energy from wind to the 1936 political fight over the Green Mountain Parkway (Free Press, Feb. 24) is a scare tactic pure and simple. Isn’t it time we have a 2005 debate about energy choices and not continue hashing over old history? What the Free Press can’t seem to understand is the gravity of the environmental catastrophe facing this state, this country and the world. By stopping wind power, Vermont will not protect its ridgelines. Wind opponents seek to preserve a view out the back window. The coming global rise in temperatures will destroy people’s precious views, along with the ski industry, sugaring business and everything else that makes Vermont Vermont.
Developing wind power keeps revenues in the state instead of shipping them out for dirty forms of energy. It emits no air pollution and certainly is part of the state’s working landscape. While opponents may want to preserve Vermont as a postcard, the truth is that the Vermont landscape has changed dramatically over time as the uses of the land changed. What is constant in Vermont are the values of its people. Against great odds, those who pursue wind power reflect those Vermont values of hard work, thrift and environmental leadership. Rep. Mike Obuchowski’s bill seeks to undermine a regulatory process that has served this state well for decades. The wind commission appointed by Gov. Jim Douglas (and never mentioned by the Free Press) expressly recommended that the Public Service Board process is the best way to consider permit applications for wind turbines. The criteria contained in Obuchowski’s bill are expressly part of the PSB review. The Free Press call for a discussion in the Legislature is a little late. A statewide discussion on wind has been ongoing for more than two years now. The Legislature debated this very issue last year and defeated the equivalent of Rep. Obuchowski’s bill overwhelmingly. Citing the “special nature of our environment” with vague threats of becoming New Jersey is another scare tactic. If we do not act in favor of clean energy, this state will absolutely become New Jersey. Global warming will destroy our maple industry, bankrupt our ski areas, raise water levels in Lake Champlain and surely destroy our working forests. Whatever we thought of as Vermont will be gone. The Free Press decries “a rush to windpower.” What rush? There is exactly one, tiny, four-turbine project officially proposed in Vermont. It was planned for more than two years and is now in a very deliberate and rigorous PSB permit process at a cost of millions to the developer. How much longer do the obstructionists want this state to wait while we continue to shirk our global environmental responsibility?Is it just for other state’s and country’s to build wind power to stop global warming so Vermont can ride their coattails? That is not only lazy. It’s immoral. And when the obstructionists decry wind development in “the last wild place” of the Northeast Kingdom, they forget to mention that not 20 miles from East Haven Wind site, Burke Mountain Resort plans a massive, gated condo community for urban refugees. That development’s out-of-state financier says he’ll pull his financing if wind turbines can be seen from the fancy condos for non-Vermonters. Million dollar housing developments at ski areas are OK. But a tiny step toward reversing environmental catastrophe will somehow destroy our Vermont way of life? Please. We are at an environmental crossroads that is so much larger than the small view of The Burlington Free Press. Stopping the development of a wind energy industry in Vermont will be small solace to the opponents, who will watch as their coveted forests and wildlands slowly degrade. There are a small handful of wind projects being considered in this state. They will be debated and properly reviewed. The public will have its say. The good projects will be built. The bad ones won’t. But as we debate this issue, let’s at least understand the Vermont has a moral obligation to ply a part in the solution to the world’s gravest threat. Margo Baldwin is co-founder and president and publisher of Chelsea Green Publishing Co. in White River Junction.

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