The gang that couldn’t dig straight

That was quite a heapin’ helpin’ o’ bad news served up by Vermont Gas this morning. It announced yet another big cost increase for Phase 1 of its pipeline project, and asked state regulators to put the case on hold.

Which is, if nothing else, a sign that they realize how bad their situation is. How bad?

Yeeeesh. Company officials insist the pipeline is still economically viable, but it’s a lot less viable than originally thought. That changes the cost/benefit equation — which should include the environmental questions — quite a bit. In other late-breaking realizations…

Mm-hmm, I’ll bet. As I wrote in early September, Vermont Gas has been its own worst enemy, coming across as bullies with landowners, and as questionable managers with state regulators.

Whether its bumblefuckery is enough to shelve the project remains to be seen. Today’s announcement is the beginning of a new phase in the history of this proposal. Up till now, the economic arguments in favor of the pipeline had been strong enough to overcome resistance from the environmental community and a small number of landowners.

Those arguments are a lot less strong today. Vermont Gas has given the state a big fat excuse to kill the project — at a time when Governor Shumlin (to be entirely political about it) desperately needs a high-profile issue on which he can pander to the left. Well, if he wants one, he’s got one.

Update. The Governor has released a statement, and yes, he sees an open door in front of him.

Although I am pleased that the new leadership at Vermont Gas is taking the time to reevaluate the proposed projects, this further cost increase is very troubling. In the coming weeks my administration will be evaluating all of this new information and looking at these projects as a whole to ensure that they remain in the best interest of Vermont. Meanwhile, I expect Vermont Gas to also reevaluate its communications and negotiations with affected landowners to help improve relations. I trust those steps will continue.

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3 thoughts on “The gang that couldn’t dig straight

  1. Sterry

    John- How does one call you? Thanks Steve Terry

    Sent from my iPhone Steve Terry Worth Mountain Consulting 15 Sheldon Lane Middlebury, Vt 05753 802-310-3987

    >

    Reply
    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Steve: I apologize for my late response. You got lost in the holiday shuffle, which was especially intense in our families.

      Anyway, you might understand why I don’t want to share my phone number on this site. I do have the right to guard my privacy and conduct my blog as I see fit. But if you visit the “About” page of this blog, you’ll find a link to my non-political website where you can find my email address.

      Reply
  2. Philip Beliveau

    What a ponzie scheme. Existing customers pay for new infrastructure so Gaz Metro and some other large businesses can make more money?

    Reply

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