Matt Dunne just lost my vote

I’ve been thinking about the race for governor since the very beginning. I’ve never felt a sense of clarity because I thought the two frontrunners, Matt Dunne and Sue Minter, were both good candidates. There were good reasons to go either way.

Until now.

Dunne just released a renewable energy siting policy that would make it much harder to expand our renewable capability. It would give veto power over large-scale wind projects to local communities. In all respects, it adopts the rhetoric of the anti-renewable movement.

And, in a turn that may be unprecedented in our politics or anyone else’s, his press release includes a quote from his gubernatorial rival, Peter Galbraith, a persistent opponent of ridgeline wind.

Seriously, has that ever happened before?

(Yes, I know it happened earlier in the cycle when Dunne adopted Galbraith’s stance on corporate contributions. But at the time, Galbraith hadn’t officially entered the race. Now, so close to the primary? That’s a whole different ballgame.)

There’s something fundamentally Nixonian about this. Two candidates ganging up on Sue Minter — who I must now presume is the front-runner, and clearly the biggest threat to Dunne’s election.

It’s also very close to a white flag from Galbraith, a tacit acknowledgment that he’s not going to win.

Dunne has put out a lot of policy proposals. To produce a new one less than two weeks before primary day seems a bit bizarre.

And shortly after that, Dunne put out a press release attacking Sue Minter. He raised questions over a contract for the Newport airport involving Ariel Quiros. It’s the first attack by any Democratic candidate against another.

I don’t like this process-wise, and I like it even less policy-wise. The Legislature and the governor have tried very hard to craft a siting policy that would be fair to communities without placing undue burdens in the way of renewable energy. Now, Dunne has announced his intention to blow the whole thing up.

Dunne’s press release includes unproven assertions stated as fact. It refers to “the adverse environmental impact of wind,” which is counter to the scientific consensus on wind energy — that the environmental impact is minimal at best, and certainly preferable to almost any other source of energy.

He uses code words to signal his stance, such as an insistence that siting needs to be done “the Vermont way,” a phrase commonly used in opposition to any sort of change or development.

Somebody give me a ballot. I’m voting Sue Minter for governor.

Postscript. I’ve been reminded of another point. I wonder how Dunne ally Bill McKibben feels about this. He’s been a staunch supporter of renewables, and has taken quite a bit of heat in some circles. Second thoughts, Bill?


Here’s the full text of Dunne’s press release.

Matt Dunne Releases Renewable Energy Siting Policy

White River Junction — Matt Dunne, Democratic candidate for Governor, today released his renewable energy siting policy. Renewable energy siting has been an issue of deep concern throughout this campaign. It consistently comes up at forums, in interviews and on the campaign trail across the state.

“As I travel across Vermont, I’ve heard concerns about the siting of renewable energy projects. Many times, these projects have created unfortunate division within our state,” said Matt Dunne, Democratic Candidate for Governor. “We must battle climate change and continue down the path to 90% renewable energy by 2015. We need to do our part to show the country what is possible. But we must do this in a Vermont way.”

As governor, Matt’s policy on energy siting will be:

  • Large-scale ridgeline wind projects should only take place with the approval of the towns where the projects are located. As governor, I will ensure that no means no. Towns should be voting by Australian ballot, and if a town says no to a large industrial wind project I would use all the power of the Governor’s office to ensure that is the end of the project.
  • Vermont’s renewable energy future is largely in solar and small-scale hydro. Solar does not have the adverse environmental impact of wind and it can be sited in a way that accommodates community concerns.
  • We should create incentives for microgrid development and renewable energy projects that are placed within a microgrid territory. This will allow for much more efficient distribution and help for local consumption of local energy.

“Matt Dunne has consistently shown that he listens to Vermonters,” said Peter Galbraith, Democratic candidate for Governor. “Matt understands the anguish that large-scale wind projects cause many Vermont communities. His statement today is a big step in the direction of a renewable energy policies that serve the interests of Vermonters, and not the corporations.”

“While I won’t close the door to new wind projects, large-scale wind projects are not right for all parts of the state. Unless supported by the local community, it is difficult to justify the divisions and controversy they create,” said Dunne. “We also all have to recognize that large-scale wind projects do have impacts on the ecology of places where they are built, something we must weigh when considering development.”


19 thoughts on “Matt Dunne just lost my vote

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      “Industrial” wind is going in nobody’s backyard, unless you happen to own a mountain. If you mean “Would I welcome it in my community?” The answer is “Yes.”

      1. Thump McDougal

        There are dozens of Vermont families that report negative health effects and attribute them to turbine operations.

        Yet, you are willing to subject your neighbors’ families to the effects of turbine operations. Have you visited turbine neighbors and determined that their complaints are bogus? Are they lying? Is it all in their heads?

        Are you sure?

        Or did they have it coming? Maybe they should have thought of this when they decided to live near a mountain.

      2. John S. Walters Post author

        I’ll have to check with the Public Service Board to see how many people have reported ill effects. In media reports, I hear the same handful of people over and over again.

        I have not visited “turbine neighbors,” by which I suppose you mean “anyone living within several miles of a turbine,” but I have read the research. The vast consensus is that there are no proven ill effects from wind turbines.

      3. Thump McDougal

        So, it’s only a small group of neighbors complaining over and over again? Is it the fact that you think there aren’t many of them that enables you to dismiss them? Or is it the fact that they’re complaining too much?

        Could it be there’s a problem that is going uncorrected? Could that be the reason that they’re complaining too much?

        Do you think that the complaint process itself might have something to do with the small number of complaints? Do you know what the complaint process is?

        Shouldn’t you find these things out before you sign up your neighbors for an experiment in turbine exposure?

        Could it be that Matt Dunne actually took the trouble to speak to turbine neighbors? Might that be a reason for articulating his position in a new way?

        Do you suppose that Sue Minter has ever visited turbine neighbors? Would you want her to? Or aren’t the turbine neighbors worthy of her concern?

        Maybe she is as unconcerned about them as you are. Would that be a good thing?

        Nah, they are just a bunch of whining fakers.

  1. Thump McDougal

    Looks like Dunne knows which way the wind is blowing. You don’t.

    Iberderola knows the trouble they’re in. That’s why their lobbyists are pulling out the stops on a new propaganda campaign. It ain’t gonna work.

    And Walters, the fact that you don’t understand the devastating environmental and health impacts of ridgeline wind suggests that you are not qualified to comment on the issue.

  2. Kim Fried

    Matt has spent enough time traveling the state and speaking with citizens have experienced the real Vermont when considering this mountain ridge line destructive industrial development and is willing to reassess his stand. How refreshing to see a non profit. Partisan Politician in ‘T.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Matt has spent a bunch of time studying the polls, realizing he needed a boost, and hastily co-opted Galbraith’s signature issue. If Matt honestly believed what he’s sealing now, he would have run on it all along instead of dumping the news on a Friday afternoon just before the primary. You want him, you’re welcome to him.

  3. Robert Haskins

    Poor choices all around now, Minter wants to restrict 2nd amendment rights and Dunne adopting Republican talking points aganist renewables.

    Lisman is running the nastiest, most desperate of campaigns not seen since…well Trump.

    Leaves me with Scott, doesn’t excite me, but he’ll be a steady hand on the wheel and compared to the candidate Clown car we got going, it’s good enough.

    1. Walter Carpenter

      “Minter wants to restrict 2nd amendment rights.”

      Well, there is something about protecting the rights of those who do not wish to own a gun, or who do own guns used for things like deer hunting, from getting shot by someone with an AR-15 that he or she casually bought in a parking lot for a few hundred bucks and no background checks. As someone who has been shot at, seen others shot, and lost two friends to angry people with guns in their hands, I can see and support Minter’s point.

  4. Dave Katz

    I’m tellin’ ya– It’s the love that dare not mention its name, behind these anti-winds. Galbraith, he Believes, but Dunne vibes as just micro-dissecting the polls for some kind of advantage. There’s an organizing set of principles at work behind this issue, but it’s hard to discern–why does A. Smith not just get laughed right outta town? Oh, sure, maybe it’s the Vermont Way–like with the vaxxers. Slow-waltz the uncomfortable subject and hope not too many people awake from slumber and start demanding our pols take, like, positions or something.

  5. chuck gregory

    Let’s play our cards right. A hundred years from now, honeymooners will visit Vermont to see the windmills.

  6. walter h moses

    Jeez, what a great wake up this was. Matt Dunne has my vote against the tyranny of GMP, Shummy, Blittersdorf, Klein, and all those other idiots chasing the buck, oops I forgot Shap and his Richey Berger law firm.
    On this issue I’ve said it before and now, again, John, you are a horse’s ass.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Do you like that he pulled it out of thin air at the last possible moment, that he pulled a bait-and-switch on us all? Or is that okay as long as he opposes ridgeline wind?

  7. Brooke Paige

    Just Say No to Industrial Wind and Yes to 90% Renewable Energy by 2018 !

    As I have repeatedly said, the Big Wind and Big Solar is an unnecessary exercise that does not help us reduce our “carbon footprint” (in fact the sale of RECs has significantly worsened out position), a fact that even the Shumlin “Green Energy” sycophants have now confessed.

    Intentionally destroying our scenic vistas when the damage is known to have no positive result and in the case of Industrial Wind may be significantly affecting the health of those who live nearby and is destine to injure our year-round tourism industry makes no sense at all.

    Sadly, we have (or at least had) the solution in hand to get Vermont to 90% renewables, not by 2050 but, by 2018 (excluding transportation energy usage). You say WHAT ! Vermont had the opportunity to insist on a third cable being included in the New England Clean Energy Link, the cables being laid under Lake Champlain and running across Vermont and terminating at Ludlow. Each cable will carry 500MW of electricity from the Quebec Hydro-electric dams in Canada, most of the energy being carried to Ludlow has been spoken for by MA and CT – however there is plenty of excess “juice” available and Vermont could have easily negotiated for the third cable. 500 MW is roughly the energy generated by VT Yankee and is all the power necessary to reach the 90% renewable goal.

    So what happened, who dropped the ball? Remember we have been recently informed that the Green Energy initiative in Vermont was not about reducing our “carbon footprint” but was carried out to stimulate the economy and create jobs, at least temporally.

    Matt Dunne participated in at least two “forums” where I brought up the issue of the Energy Link and the fact that it would have gotten us to the 90% renewable goal almost immediately. Matt Dunne had no reaction at the time, however it would not surprise me if he adopted the proposal as his own, as a way of deflecting criticism of his abandonment of Industrial Wind – a position that I have advanced and support 100%.

    Just Say No to Industrial Wind !

    H. Brooke Paige
    Democratic Candidate for Governor and Attorney General

    (If Matt’s folks are reading this, you are welcome to use this “big idea” no attribution is expected!)

    1. Dave Katz

      Let’s say that a viable renewable, clean energy source is found in someone else’s backyard that’s not full of whiners* who enjoy using midwestern fossil fuel electricity that forces all of us to eat the cadmium fallout in the food chain–why, those ugly hideous view-wrecking satanic-windmills can come apart in the reverse order they went together, leaving a concrete pad and a logging road behind. Just like Vermont Yankee, how, now, exactly, whiners?
      *convenient dupes of or paid trolls for the fossil-fuel energy lobby. Just sayin’. It is a matter of public record that several utility companies have been discovered to be actively engaged in campaigns to either trash the perceived efficacy of renewables or of shifting significant “transmission” costs onto renewable users as a way of depressing the market. Color me surprised.

      1. Dave Katz

        While you’re sweating through answering the previous puzzle posed to you in rhetorical question form above, please to be acknowledging the public statements of the Koch Brahs, making obstructing the dread spread of renewable energy their #1 priority. So which side are you people gonna be on? Pick, and show your work, please. Just be sure and remember this–the future of the planet really DOES hang in the balance.

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