There’s quite the journalistic one-two punch on VTDigger today. It’s a story that exposes former Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie’s anti-wind activism for the empty rhetorical shell that it is; it also raises serious ethical questions about a top state official. Or it would, if the state had any serious ethical standards to enforce.
For those just joining us, Dubie emerged from his long political hibernation earlier this year to take up the fight against a proposed seven-turbine wind farm near his home in Swanton. Dubie insisted this wasn’t a case of NIMBYism which, don’t they all. But his political profile lent a bit of suit-and-tie gravitas to the cause.
In addition to the usual discredited arguments about environmental impact, Dubie attacked the Swanton plan as a menace to aviation. And since the guy is a pilot with American Airlines, his words carried some weight. Except it was all bullshit.
This fall, Dubie has been trumpeting a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration to support his stance. But it turns out that the FAA was merely claiming an interest in reviewing the plan. And now it has completed its review, and determined that there is no impact on aviation. None.
In other words, he wasn’t an expert with unique insight. He was just another zealot pushing whatever scraps of “information” he could find.
But what’s worse is that he had a willing accomplice at the highest level of state government: Guy Rouelle, aviation program administrator for the Agency of Transportation.
Together, Dubie and Rouelle coordinated efforts and enlisted the aid of aeronautics industry advocacy groups, FAA officials, Vermont’s Army and Air National Guard officers, and subordinates of Rouelle’s in the Agency of Transportation’s Aviation program to fight the project.
Rouelle said he can understand why his advocacy might be viewed to have exceeded the bounds of his position but he said he was motivated solely by air traffic safety.
“Exceeded the bounds of his position,” indeed. The Digger piece shows that Rouelle was actively in cahoots with Dubie, trying to whomp up an aviation-industry coalition to fight the Swamton project.
Need I say what a complete and utter conflict of interest this is? Rouelle, as the responsible state official for aviation issues, has been using his position and influence in support of a private agenda. He was lobbying the very same people he is responsible for regulating.
And, as the Digger article illustrates in abundant detail, this was an intensive, far-reaching campaign by Rouelle and Dubie.
Rouelle is a licensed pilot who joined state government in 2003, when Jim Douglas was Governor and, ahem, Brian Dubie was Lite-Gov. I’m sure that Rouelle has the qualifications for his job; I’m equally sure that he and fellow pilot Dubie have a history.
If he hasn’t been called on the carpet by his superiors, I’d really like to know why.
Postscript. There is another story to tell about the mendacity of Dubie’s anti-wind campaign. Watch this space.