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.)
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.
In the runup to Tuesday’s primary, I suggested that Peter Galbraith’s candidacy could backfire on his allies in the anti-renewable camp. I thought he was likely to finish a poor third, and that could damage the antis’ claim to represent a sizable and growing force in Vermont politics.
Turns out, they may be loud but they’re not terribly numerous. Galbraith did worse than I thought, finishing with a mere nine percent of the Democratic primary vote.
It remains to be seen if Galbraith’s poor showing diminishes the pull of groups like Vermonters for a Clean Environment and Energize Vermont; but it sure can’t help them.
I can almost hear them arguing that their numbers were split among Galbraith and Republicans Phil Scott and Bruce Lisman. But even if Scott wins the governorship, Democrats will hold the legislative power, and they should be unimpressed by the small number of anti-wind voters in Democratic ranks.
Matt Dunne has forgotten the cardinal rule of what to do if you find yourself in a hole: Stop Digging.
The series of events he triggered with his spinaroonie on renewable energy siting continue to echo through Vermont’s gubernatorial race. It’s clearly the single most significant passage of this interminable campaign, which is why I keep writing about it. And I am frankly shocked at the lack of media coverage it’s received. (Except for Seven Days, which jumped on it immediately and has followed it ever since.) Digger? VPR? Free Press? Vermont Press Bureau? Bueller?
I withdraw the preceding comment. VPB’s Neal Goswami wrote it up Monday afternoon. VTDigger’s Mark Johnson filed a story that appeared Tuesday morning.
Today brought two more events, neither of which will do Dunne any good — and one that will further damage his standing (or what remains of it) with ‘mainstream Democrats.
Yesterday, the State Senate took up S.230, the energy siting bill.
And promptly dropped it on the floor, kicked it around, and stomped it into mush, in a particularly unedifying display of sausage-making. A four-and-a-half hour debate included a blizzard of amendments — some adopted and some never even considered — and produced a result that satisfied no one on either side of the debate. Including many of the Senators who actually voted to pass the much-amended bill, Seven Days’ Paul HeintzTerri Hallenbeck:
By 7 p.m., when the final vote came, the majority of the senators appeared to be voting for the bill just to put an end to the day’s events.
Democracy in action, folks.
I wasn’t there, but from media accounts, this has the greasy fingerprints of Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell all over it. His tenure has been marked by frequent breakdowns in process, and headstrong senators taking advantage of the situation. This was classic Campbell: helpless to steer a complicated course through the reefs of strongly-held viewpoints and the shallows of senatorial ego.