Category Archives: Energy

On the VPR Poll

Must have been some soiled britches at VTGOP headquarters when the news came out: a new poll shows the race for governor is a statistical dead heat.

If it’s accurate, of course. Usual caveats apply. Doesn’t help that this is the only pre-election poll we’re going to get, since VPR is the only media organization putting up money for surveys this year.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume it’s reasonably on target.

There were reasons to believe the race would be close, but the almost universal assumption (me included) was that Phil Scott was the front-runner because of his name recognition, his inoffensive image, and Vermonters’ presumed post-Shumlin fatigue with liberal policymaking. Minter, by comparison, was known (to the extent she was known at all) mainly as a Shumlin underling, which meant she would struggle to create a profile of her own.

Instead, here we are, with Scott at 39 percent, Minter at 38, and a rather surprising 14 percent undecided.

So why is this race so close? Assuming, again, that the poll is accurate.

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Big Greenwashing

Dartmouth College has announced a new, lavishly-funded institute to study energy issues. Or, as the PR bumpf puts it, the institute’s purpose is “ato advance the understanding and knowledge of a resource that powers modern life and is directly related to society’s standard of living and success.”

Great news, right?

Well, not everybody thinks so. As the Valley News reports, “environmentalists within the Dartmouth community described [the institute] as a ‘horrific’ example of influence-peddling.”

See, the full name of the new body is the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society. That’s “Irving” as in Irving Oil, one of New England’s leading distributors of fossil fuel. The Irving family donated $80 million — roughly half the estimated cost of the thing, including a shiny new building to be erected on campus — in exchange for the naming rights and, some fear, a measure of influence on what exactly is studied.

This is a growing trend on college and university campuses: rich people with axes to grind putting up scads of dough to establish “institutes” devoted to studying questions of their choosing. And churning out “research” that, mirabile dictu, supports conservative and pro-business points of view.

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All’s fair in love and wind

There’s a lot of funny business afoot near the sites of proposed wind farms in Windham/Grafton and Swanton. And it’s not a product of those wily Spaniards at Iberdrola; no, it’s coming from local opponents of wind.

Which is par for the course. While the opposition is quick to cry “dirty pool” by would-be developers, they themselves are doing their best impression of the Iron Sheik, the great wrestling villain who did anything he could — up to and including blasts of “fire” — to assert his cartoonish dominance over his foes.

(He’s an entertaining Twitter follow if you can handle his frequent use of the F-word.)

Let’s take a look at a few of the Foreign Objects hidden in their trunks, shall we?

We’ll start in Windham, where non-residents are agitating for the chance to vote on the project. To which my immediate response was, “What The [Iron Sheik’s Favorite Word]?”

Whatever happened to “one person, one vote”?

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Shrine of the Holy Vortex Martyrs

Huh boy. Vermont’s anti-wind zealots appear to be establishing a Holy Place for their belief system of junk science and outright dogma. (Perhaps tax-free status as a religious organization is the next step.)

And where will this Medjugorje of the Muggles be created? Glad you asked.

The Therrien family property in Sheffield… will become a dedicated research hub to study the noise, vibrations and environmental impacts of 16 418-foot-tall nearby turbines known as Vermont Wind.

Ah, the Therriens, perennial poster family for the alleged hazards of wind. The anti-wind organization Energize Vermont bought their place at a tax sale, and now plans to use it as headquarters of the Vermont Center for Turbine Impact Studies — a name that seems to presage its findings. Because the overwhelming bulk of actual scientific inquiry has found little to no impact.

(Indeed, a massive study in Australia found a high correlation between reports of turbine-related sickness and protests over the construction of wind farms. Nearly two-thirds of all wind farms in the country had never received a single report of ill effects, while a handful of facilities that had attracted opposition was also responsible for the vast majority of health complaints. The conclusion: “wind turbine syndrome” is a “disease” spread by word of mouth.)

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State hires fox to guard henhouse

Your Tax Dollars At Work: the state of Vermont is offering $50,000 to a prominent anti-wind advocate to study the noise effects of wind turbines.

Great.

VPR had the details in a curiously understated article whose title, “State Funding for Research Into Turbine Noise Sets Stage for Vermont’s Next Wind Debate,” utterly fails to communicate the substance of the piece.

Which is this: in the late stages of this year’s legislative session, somebody slipped a $50,000 appropriation into the budget. The money goes to Lyndon State physics professor Ben Luce to buy sound-monitoring gear that he’ll use to study turbine-generated noise.

Fine so far. But Luce is a notorious critic of wind energy, having called ridgeline wind “a tragedy of inconceivable dimensions.” He sits on the board of Energize Vermont, a leading anti-wind organization.

And you say he’s going to be objective.

Riiiiiiiight.

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False equivalencies on renewable energy

VTDigger’s commentary page recently featured a call to Kumbaya by Brian Tokar, UVM lecturer and board member of 350Vermont. His argument is that our debate over renewable energy has been toxified by extreme positions taken by both sides:

On one hand, groups like VPIRG and Renewable Energy Vermont have staked out a position that any possible limitations on large-scale projects represent an existential threat to our appropriately ambitious renewable energy goals. On the other side are those who view all utility-scaled developments as an assault on our precious lands and wildlife habitats, among other concerns.

His characterization of pro-renewable advocates is 100% pure bullshit. Nobody from VPIRG or REV or Iberdrola or The Secret Blittersdorf Cabal is opposed to “any possible limitations” on renewable siting. In fact, they just spent a laborious 2016 legislative session working with all interested parties on a revised siting bill that allows for local input.

It was the other side that refuses to come to the table, insists on nothing less than full veto power for local governments, and depicts anyone who disagrees with them as corrupt toadies of rich, powerful, foreign interests.

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There’s been an outbreak of negative campaigning! Quick, alert Phil Scott!

Our lieutenant governor slash governor-wannabe has been ultra-vigilant during this campaign season, ever on the lookout for negative tactics and quick to criticize those (cough*BruceLisman*cough) dastardly enough to join the Dark Side.

Well, warm up the ScottSignal (searchlight w/stencil of the big green #14), because we’ve got a dangerous outbreak of negative campaigning.

Surely, under the circumstances, Our Hero will leap into action and upbraid the miscreants.

Over there, Phil — Look! it’s the Vermont Republican Party!

Go get ’em!

Hey, Phil, wait up! Where you going?

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