Feeling a little jet-lagged, Governor?

Okay, look. Personally, I don’t have a big problem with the Vermont Gas pipeline. It would mean Vermont is consuming more natural gas — but we already consume quite a bit, so it’s not like we’d be losing our fracking virginity. (Much of our natural gas consumption is in the form of electricity generated in out-of-state gas-fired plants and purchased on the spot market.)

You ask me, I’d say don’t build it. But Vermont faces far greater environmental challenges, and I’m not sure why the Vermont Gas pipeline became the poster child for activists. If they wanted to have a positive impact on climate change, they’d be better off advocating for renewable energy and lower dependence on out-of-state sources including natural gas, nuclear, and ecologically destructive “industrial” hydropower from Quebec.

That said, Governor Shumlin pulled a substantial boner upon being repeatedly interrupted by anti-pipeline activists at the Paris climate summit.

His main antagonist was Vermonter Aly Johnson-Kurts, a student at Smith College. VPR’s Taylor Dobbs:

As Shumlin was speaking on a panel Wednesday about how local governments like Vermont’s are addressing climate change, Johnson-Kurts repeatedly interrupted him with questions about his support for the pipeline and demands that he reverse his position.

Shumlin listened and responded to some of Johnson-Kurts’ concerns about fracking, then said “When we come to questions [later in the event], we’d love to answer them.”

His comments grew more personal after that, as Johnson-Kurts continued to disrupt the event…

“Come on, I know your mom and dad and I know they taught you better manners than this,” Shumlin said. “You’re giving a beautiful speech, but you know, you’re missing classes back at Smith that you’re going to get in trouble for.”

Johnson-Kurtz paused and briefly sat down.

“Okay thank you. You’re beautiful. You’re eloquent,” Shumlin said before addressing the larger audience.

Eeeeeeeesssshhhhh. The only thing he didn’t do was reach out and pat her on the head.

It should be noted that Shumlin and Johnson-Kurts are acquainted; she served as a legislative page when Shumlin was in the state senate. That explains some of the over-familiarity. Still: need I say how condescending, how sexist, how tone-deaf that is? Especially coming from a guy who’s in a committed relationship with a much younger woman. You’d think he would have acquired a bit more sensitivity from that experience alone, if not from his decades in public life.

Johnson-Kurts and her compatriots were rude. They were conducting a publicity stunt designed to embarrass Shumlin, in a venue that has no bearing on the status of the Vermont Gas pipeline. But the worst way to respond is to try to out-rude a determined protester. It just makes you look like the bad guy.

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4 thoughts on “Feeling a little jet-lagged, Governor?

  1. Ken Horseman

    Really, John? If it were up to you the pipeline wouldn’t be built? Addison County businesses — not to mention homeowners and renters — will have substantially lower energy bills. Vermont better wakeup and realize that we can have a strong economy AND a clean environment. It’s both and. Everyone talks a good game — jobs, jobs, jobs. But when push comes to shove more roadblocks are what policymakers create, and we wonder why average hard working Vermonters can’t dig themselves out of a hole that seems to keep getting larger. Really, John???

    Reply
    1. Philip Beliveau

      The substantial savings have evaporated with the drop in oil prices and the increase in price of the pipeline. There are not very many potential customers for this pipe and the cost to change hardware for gas is substantial. This pipe is not really for Addison cnty, it is to hook up to the grid from the south to bring gas up to Quebec and current Vt ratepayers get to pay for it. If it is such a good deal let Gaz Metro and the Addison businesses pay for it.

      Reply
  2. Philip Beliveau

    “If they wanted to have a positive impact on climate change, they’d be better off advocating for renewable energy and lower dependence on out-of-state sources including natural gas” Duh. What do you think Gaz metro is? Do you think it is appropriate to ask current ratepayers to pay for this boondoggle? Not only is the nat gas inappropriate old tech but ripping up the ground to put a pipeline through natural areas and next to houses compounds the error. I commend this lady for pressing Shumlin in a venue he holds dear. Unfortunately there have been very few venues to get his attention including the PSB. Maybe it is time to go beyond polite? How can Shumlin brag about Vts commitment to climate change and at the same time support this grotesque project? We can’t go cold turkey but we can stop building new carbon infrastructure.

    Reply

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