Tag Archives: ridgeline wind

“No one will ever trust him again.”

Matt Dunne, pre-Friday:

Dunne says the state can’t meet its 90 percent renewable energy goal by 2050 unless it encourages the development of large-scale wind and solar projects.

Dunne is a proponent of large-scale renewable wind and solar projects.

That’s from VTDigger’s guide to the primary candidates. and it’s completely at odds with the Matt Dunne who came out against ridgeline wind on Friday.

“We must battle climate change and continue down the path to 90% renewable energy by 2015. …But we must do this in a Vermont way.

… “Large-scale ridgeline wind projects should only take place with the approval of the towns where the projects are located.

… “Vermont’s renewable energy future is largely in solar and small-scale hydro.”

In short, Matt Dunne has executed a last-minute flip-flop on one of the key issues in Vermont politics. And that’s why a well-connected liberal insider told me today that “No one will ever trust him again.”

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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.

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Brian Dubie, serial propagandist

Our former Lieutenant Governor is continuing his all-out campaign against wind farms with his usual mix of overheated rhetoric and outright lies. As is customary with anti-wind activists, it’s a game of Whack-A-Mole: answer one argument, they quickly switch to another, and another, and another. No single argument survives scrutiny; they have to move the target and hope nobody notices. Dubie’s only been playing this game for a few months, but he’s already mastered the basics.

UFOTurbineHis latest foray was especially duplicitous: a claim that a proposed wind farm would be a hazard to aviation. Originally, he brandished a document from the Federal Aviation Administration that seemed to backstop his argument.  Turns out he was misrepresenting a routine FAA notice of interest in the project. The FAA has since ruled that the wind farm poses no risk to aviation.

That hasn’t stopped Dubie from pushing this discredited talking point, brandishing his “expertise” as a longtime airline pilot — which, I guess, makes him more of an expert than the Federal Aviation Administration.  Heh.

In a recent opinion piece, Dubie places the origin of his professional concern about wind turbines to an unspecified time during his tenure as Lieutenant Governor. Which looks like an attempt to rewrite history, since Dubie was a prominent advocate of wind energy — a position that put him at odds with Governor Jim Douglas, a wind-power skeptic. Dubie highlighted the need for more wind power as recently as January 2009, when he was being sworn in to his fourth term as Lite-Gov.

So when was his wind-power conversion? Apparently not during his government service. Indeed, he never raised a peep of concern about wind energy until last year, when he realized there was a plan to build a wind farm near his home.

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The wind fizzle

There were some rumblings of possible excitement at today’s Democratic State Committee meeting. Word was, the anti-wind energy crowd would push the Committee to adopt a resolution opposing ridgeline wind. And, to add impetus to the push, they might attend the meeting in force.

Well, not so much. There was a resolution on the agenda, courtesy of the Caledonia County Democratic Committee. But attendance was moderate. No busloads from the shadow of Grandpa’s Knob. There was brief and polite discussion, after which the resolution was defeated on a 26-7 vote. Arguments against the resolution mostly cited procedural grounds, arguing that the State Committee is a party-organizing operation, not a place for policy debates and decisions.

And that was it. No confrontations, no immediate blowback; the meeting went on without incident. The after-meeting chatter was no more or less heated than usual.

The resolution was crafted to downplay its anti-wind origins, but its clear intent was to put the Democratic Party on record opposing ridgeline wind.

The Caledonia County Democratic Committee proposes the following resolution that the State Democratic Committee call on the Vermont Legislature and Governor Shumlin to: 

Reassess Vermont’s energy policy to include appropriate changes to Statute 248 to account for high-elevation industrial-scale power projects that are attentive and accountable on issues of environmental destruction, wildlife habitat and human health impacts.

Propose a transparent, sustainable energy policy that preserves the irreplaceable ecosystems of Vermont’s highest elevations.

Okay, well. Aside from the fact that the second paragraph isn’t really a coherent sentence, here’s the problem. The resolution’s purpose is to effectively ban ridgeline wind under the guise of permitting reform. The language is highly inflammatory, written from an extreme anti-wind viewpoint and accepting the anti-wind arguments as fact.

And there’s the rub. If you believe that wind turbines cause unique harm to human health, wildlife and ecosystems and that they somehow cause irreparable and permanent damage to mountaintops, then ridgeline wind is unacceptable.

The rest of us, of course, don’t agree. We see wind power as part of the solution to climate change, and we see the preponderance of scientific evidence as supporting wind energy. Anti-wind people, like anti-vaxxers, are so convinced of their rightness that they unquestioningly accept any evidence that seems to support them (no matter how thin, anecdotal, or unscientific), and instantly dismiss any evidence that undercuts their views.

That’s the faulty foundation of this resolution. I am relieved that it was quickly sent packing by the DSC, even if it used the convenient dodge of a process argument to do so. The Committee, I’m sure, was even more relieved to avoid a public confrontation with one of the party’s extreme elements.