Protesters bring demands to halt Addison County pipeline to Department of Public Service

Anna Shireman-Grabowski, a member of Rising Tide Vermont and a Middlebury College student, calls the Department of Public Service Monday afternoon to let them know protesters are at their door with a demand to halt Vermont Gas Systems' proposed natural gas pipeline in Addison County. Photo by Andrew Stein

Anna Shireman-Grabowski, a member of Rising Tide Vermont and a Middlebury College student, calls the Department of Public Service Monday afternoon to let them know protesters are at their door with a demand to halt Vermont Gas Systems’ proposed natural gas pipeline in Addison County. Photo by Andrew Stein

Protesters descended on the offices of the Vermont Department of Public Service on Monday to oppose a natural gas pipeline expansion into Addison County. Advocates say the state has made it difficult for ordinary citizens to participate in the permitting process for the Vermont Gas Systems project.

A grassroots group called Rising Tide Vermont organized the protest against the proposed 41.2-mile pipeline expansion from Hinesburg to Rutland.

The Public Service Department supports the project.

A member of Rising Tide Vermont carries a paper mache rubber stamp in a protest of Vermont Gas Systems' proposed pipeline to Addison County. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger

A member of Rising Tide Vermont carries a paper mache rubber stamp in a protest of Vermont Gas Systems’ proposed pipeline to Addison County. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger

“This pipeline will be locking our communities into a continued dependence on fossil fuels,” said protester Avery Pittman, 23, of Vergennes. She and the group of roughly 20 marched up to the third floor of the red brick building at 112 State St.

Anna Shireman-Grabowski, a student at Middlebury College, led the group in song, chanting “Solidarity forever for unity makes us strong,” in the stairway of the office building. Shireman-Grabowski requested a meeting on the spot with department Commissioner Chris Recchia, who later said he was on the fifth floor of the Pavilion building at the time.

Deputy Commissioner Darren Springer, department attorney for the project Louise Porter, and Recchia’s executive assistant Michelle Hughes filed into the hallway to meet with the protesters.

Shireman-Grabowski read aloud the protesters’ six demands (which can all be viewed in the document below) and a statement intended for Recchia.

“We stand here today to say no more fossil fuel infrastructure, and we demand a participatory process that is accountable to the people of Vermont today and the future generations of tomorrow,” Shireman-Grabowski said, before the group offered Springer an ultimatum between accepting the group’s demands or taking a paper mache rubber stamp, indicating what they say is the department’s blind compliance with the project.

“I’d be happy to accept the demands,” Springer said. “We’ll be happy to review them.”

The backstory, the department and the demands

Members of Rising Tide Vermont formed an ad-hoc group called Vermont Intergenerational Stewards to intervene in the Public Service Board’s permitting process for the gas expansion project. The board denied the group’s application to intervene, but approved more than 30 other parties.

“The Public Service Board process is not participatory, and it’s not accessible,” Pittman said. “You have to have enormous financial and human resources to intervene. Now, our only recourse is the Department of Public Service, which ostensibly represents the people of Vermont. But the testimony they submitted on June 14 is a complete rubber stamp of this project.”

Protesters took aim at testimony from Walter Poor, an economic analyst at the department, who said the project is in the interest of the state.

In his testimony, Poor said, “It is unclear whether the Project would reduce life cycle greenhouse gas emissions relative to the fuels it might replace,” but he added that “it is not clear that a full life cycle analysis completed by VGS or another entity at this time would be useful.”

A life cycle analysis of natural gas would include all of the processes from extraction through distribution, not just the burning segment of the equation. The group demands that the department run such an analysis.

Recchia expressed reservations.

“It needs to take into account not just the life cycle of gas, but also of propane and fuel oil,” Recchia said in an interview. “We’re working with ANR to evaluate what that would get us. We’re not committed to do that because we’re still evaluating how to best do that and whether it would yield dynamics that would change the direction of the project.”

The Conservation Law Foundation conducted an analysis, which found that the project would increase greenhouse gas emissions.

The protesters also take issue with Poor’s finding that “the Addison Natural Gas Project is consistent with the Comprehensive Energy Plan,” which sets the state goal of drawing 90 percent of the Vermont’s energy from renewable sources by 2050.

“We demand that this statement be retracted,” Shireman-Grabowski said to the department officials in the hall. “There is no room for new fossil fuel infrastructure in a plan to decrease fossil fuel consumption.”

Recchia disagrees with the protesters allegations.

“In the long term we look at it as an opportunity to provide an outlet for biogas,” he said. “We recognize in our Comprehensive Energy Plan there still would be some nonrenewable resources, and gas is a much cleaner option than other fuels available to us.”

Recchia said that all in all, the state would benefit from the VTGas proposal.

“We think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages,” he said. “What we see is an opportunity to give consumers a choice as to what heating fuel they wish to use, and we think choice is a good thing. We also think with Vermont Gas being a regulated utility will bring efficiency programs with it, and that’s helpful.”

“Clearly it’s cleaner for Vermont,” he continued. “We’re using number 2 and number 6 fuel oil to heat homes.”

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Comments

  1. Matt Fisken :

    surely Comm. Recchia did not say this pipeline can “provide an outlet for biogas.”

    Why do we need this pipeline? I fail to see the problem with “virtual pipelines” for transporting this fuel.

    http://www.ngadvantage.com/node/71

    oh, right…

    http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20130325/NEWS02/303250012/Crews-responding-to-gas-leak-in-Milton

    • Jane Palmer :

      Hi Matt,
      I see where you are going here….but really, do you think there are no leaks with a transmission pipeline and the distribution of “natural” gas? That is the really big invisible elephant in the room. If we can’t see the fugitive gas, and we are not there to measure it when the leaks are happening (like in the last three of four incidents in the last couple of months right here in Northwestern VT) we can just ignore it, right? Think of how many incidents are happening like those all over the country….the world!
      No one is saying that those that are currently using “natural” gas should be stopped from doing so…we are just asking the important question… Does it make sense to build this pipeline so a small percentage of Vermonters and businesses can POTENTIALLY save some money and POSSIBLY (but not likely) save some CO2 emissions? (There are of course, many other arguments against burning and extracting more “natural” gas but I am sure you have heard all of them.)

      • Matt Fisken :

        Jane,

        To be clear, I am in support of projects that make communities safer and more resilient. I don’t think this pipeline is one of them. Mostly, I’m suggesting that these complex distribution systems are inherently risky gambles that are viewed by companies and regulators myopically (is it profitable?), without enough input from the public (a fact I know all too well from my work with smart meters in Vermont).

        I was not aware of the Milton gas leak in March until yesterday, which is a reminder that we are all able to miss important information despite our best intentions to keep our ears to the ground.

  2. Patrick Cashman :

    It would be interesting to see where these 20 self appointed representatives of “many people across the state” are actually from. Ms. Shireman-Grabowski appears to actually be from Michigan.

    • Colin Flood :

      Well, I for one was there at the protest, and I was born and raised in Woodbury, Vermont. The DPS does not represent my interests or take my concerns into account, and I am all too glad to have anyone — from anywhere — standing with me in defense of our shared planet and future.

      • Patrick Cashman :

        Representing exactly one person; yourself. Not this guy, that guy, people across Vermont or people not-yet-born-but-I-totally-believe-we-would-get-along-awesome-and-they-would-agree-with-my-opinions. Only yourself.
        Now the good folks at DPS, they are employed by the state and have a claim to representing all Vermonters.

        • John Greenberg :

          Following your own logic, if Colin Flood can’t claim to represent anyone else — even if, for example, others have said that he DOES represent them (not impossible, after all),- it’s certainly equally clear that, at best, DPS has a claim to represent all but ONE Vermonter, namely Mr. Flood.

        • Colin Flood :

          Yeah . . . actually, Patrick, I think you’re completely missing the point again. Opposition to this project is enormous. Thirty people showed up to the DPS on a Monday morning; that’s no small showing. Every open house VT Gas has held for the project has been full of opposition; I meet new opponents all the time. I sat through several hours of a Q&A in Middlebury. The room was packed. Exactly one person, out of hours of testimony, spoke in support of the project. I don’t claim to represent anyone, but I am one of many people whose staunch opposition is being ignored by our so-called public servants. Again, why is it so offensive to you that we might exercise our rights as citizens by lobbying for our interests?

          • Patrick Cashman :

            Colin, you seem to believe that if you oppose something, then it should be immediately stopped. Do you believe that before signing any new legislation the Governor should stop and ask “What does Colin think about this?”. If there is truly “enormous” opposition as you claim then that opposition should have no problem working through their elected representatives. But this seems more like a small group making as much noise and disruption as possible to puff themselves up and seem bigger than they are.
            Basically what we have in this story is twenty kids in the hall throwing a tantrum because they want something.

          • Colin Flood :

            Actually, at the Middlebury Q&A I mentioned, the one person who spoke in favor of the pipeline was Paul Ralston, Middlebury’s legislative rep. Your naivete is adorable.

          • Patrick Cashman :

            Good for Mr. Ralston, representing his constituents in the face of more fits and tantrums.

            By the way, I do not think that word means what you think it means.

  3. Patrick, classic response. Blame it on a bunch of crazy outsiders. right?

    As a matter of fact, many of the people there yesterday were born and raised in Vermont, or have lived here for decades.

    And sure, others have only move here in the past 5-10 years. But does that really matter?

    They were representing hundreds of people from across the state, many in Addison and Chittenden counties, where the project is being proposed, who are part of a grassroots campaign to stop this pipeline.

    They were representing hundreds of people who have signed petitions and post cards saying no to the pipeline, or who have called the DPS to give a similar message.

    They were representing several landowners who are fighting their hardest to keep a Canadian corporation from running a dirty energy corridor through their farms and wetlands.

    They were representing the voices of future generations, who will inherit the impacts of the choices we make today, and who depend on us to start taking serious steps to address climate change and ecological destruction.

    They were representing thousands of Vermonters who are part of the a grassroots movement to put people and the planet first.

    And, most importantly, they were representing hundreds of thousands of people across the continent and across the world who are standing up in defense of the places they love and saying ‘enough’ to continued extraction of extreme energy at the expense of ecosystems and human communities.

    And, don’t forget who the real ‘native’ Vermonters are (hint: they aren’t white and they aren’t the descendants of European settlers). So let us please get over this whole ‘holier-than-thou’ if you aren’t from Vermont mentality. Don’t we have anything better and more intelligent to discuss?

    • Patrick Cashman :

      Glad you liked it, though “crazy outsiders” is a little more menacing than I would say. I would go more with over-entitled Midd-kids.
      That said, if there were an election of some kind to designate them as representing anyone but themselves I would probably vote for the same bunch. I really enjoy the irony of the fortunate beneficiaries of our economic system hammering out their demands or missives about destroying the capitalist system on a laptop mom and dad bought them.

      • Will Bennington :

        And you are making enormous assumptions about people you don’t know, and about whom you know very little (and I’d venture to guess you don’t know squat about their socioeconomic backgrounds).

        So, congratualtions. You know what they say happens when you make an assumption, don’t you?

      • Patrick Cashman :

        An angel gets their wings?

        While we are on the topic of assumptions though, let’s address the big one in this particular event. These ~20 folks from god knows where claim to represent Vermonters from across the state, with no explanation of exactly how they were selected to bear that heavy mantle. You go even further, to claim they represent hundreds of thousands of individuals perfectly capable of choosing their own causes for themselves, to even include the critical “not yet born or conceived” electorate. Do you have some substantiation for these claims? They would appear to be pretty massive assumptions, crossing firmly into the territory of presumption.

        Best just to speak for yourself instead of presuming to steal the voice of others for your own purposes.

        • John Greenberg :

          “These ~20 folks from god knows where claim to represent Vermonters from across the state …” Where do they make that claim?

          • Patrick Cashman :

            In the Rising Tide Vermont letter and demands at the bottom of the article delivered to Mr. Recchia.

        • Colin Flood :

          Patrick, the fact of the matter is that the people who ARE supposed to represent the interests of all Vermonters — the DPS — are not doing so, and are rubber-stamping a project designed to benefit a few (including wealthy out-of-state corporations like International Paper) at the expense of many Vermonters and the planet. If the DPS won’t represent the people opposed to this pipeline, we have to represent ourselves.

          It’s interesting that your antipathy towards “outsiders” (fellow Americans, fellow Earthlings) doesn’t extend to massive corporations like IP or Gaz Metro.

          • Patrick Cashman :

            Colin,
            And you believe it is up to you to determine that our commonly agreed upon government isn’t functioning properly?
            We have a representational government, commonly agreed upon by the residents of the state. It really isn’t up to a small group of college kids to decide to prevent the operation of that government just because their particular pet issue isn’t being resolved in a way they approve of.

            As to my opinion of particular corporations, feel free to point to a comment where I have expressed an opinion one way or the other and I’ll respond to that. Your general assumption of “he doesn’t support our particular group, therefore he must support/oppose A, B and C” is an overly simplistic view of a complicated world.

          • John Greenberg :

            ” It really isn’t up to a small group of college kids to decide to prevent the operation of that government just because their particular pet issue isn’t being resolved in a way they approve of.” Putting aside the false premise — namely that this small group prevented the operation, etc. — I disagree strongly with your statement. It really IS up to all of us in a representative democracy to make our views heard, especially when dealing with officials who have no other direct institutional link to the public. The DPS officials I’ve dealt with over the years have all been functional adults, fully capable of listening respectfully to dissenting opinions and still carrying out their mandated tasks. Feedback not only doesn’t destroy the system, it clearly improves it. Indeed, I’d go further and say it’s fundamental to its proper functioning.

          • Colin Flood :

            Yeah, Patrick, that’s what’s so interesting about your objections: you seem to be against citizen participation in public processes beyond casting a vote once every two years. I take my responsibilities as a citizen seriously.

          • Patrick Cashman :

            Great, glad to hear it. Now you do know that “responsibilities” include doing things you don’t want to do, and not doing things you do want to do. For example; you may want to portray yourself as representing other Vermonters when in actuality you only represent yourself. You shouldn’t do that.

          • Colin Flood :

            I don’t know why this offends you so much, but I can say for a fact that plenty of Vermonters do see us as representing their own wishes and viewpoints. Why is it wrong for us to bring that up?

          • Patrick Cashman :

            Colin,
            In every life comes that moment when one realizes that the mere fact that something wa uttered from one’s mouth does not necessarily make that utterance true. It’s part of growing up and you shouldn’t fear it.

  4. Mr. Bennington is correct. Where an individual happens to emerge from his or her mother’s womb has nothing to do with their role in participatory democracy.

    I didn’t ask my mother and father to conceive and raise me in an adjacent state, so I moved to Vermont as soon as I was legally able (age 17) and have lived in Vermont for a total of 11 years. Does my voice count less because of this?

    If anything, making a conscious choice to live in a particular state shows that an individual truly wants to be there. Being born in a state is just circumstance.

  5. Eric Davis :

    Were the protesters at the right place? Rather than going to the DPS offices, should they have been on the fifth floor of the Pavilion Building, at the governor’s office? Chris Recchia, a gubernatorial appointee, and his colleagues at DPS are following the direction set out by the administration on this issue. Gov. Shumlin has spoken out strongly in favor of the Addison gas pipeline, arguing that the Vermont economy (businesses and homeowners in Middlebury and Vergennes, and, eventually, Rutland) will benefit from less-expensive natural gas.

    It is interesting to note that arguments very similar to those being used by the opponents of the Addison gas pipeline are being used by the governor himself in his request last week to the State Department to oppose the possible transport of tar sands oil from Canada through the Portland Natural Gas Pipeline (also owned by an affiliate of Gaz Metro), which runs through the Northeast Kingdom.

    Do the governor and the DPS see any principled distinctions between the Addison gas pipeline and the Portland pipeline, other than that one would serve customers in Vermont and the other would not?

    • Jim Christiansen :

      “Do the governor and the DPS see any principled distinctions…”

      Governor Shumlin and principles? I believe we all know the answer to your question.

    • Will Bennington :

      The governor is certainly a key player in this process. But, he is not the only person who needs to be confronted for supporting a dirty, destructive false solution to climate change.

      However, it is important to put pressure on a variety of decision makers. The DPS is charged with representing ratepayers and the people of Vermont in this case. The testimony they submitted on June 14 was completely inadequate in addressing greenhouse gas emissions and the real climate impacts of this project.

      Don’t worry, the Gov will feel the heat soon enough. There is already an on-line petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-peter-shumlin-stop-the-vermont-gas-pipeline

      • Patrick Cashman :

        Hmm. The fun difference being the Governor is actually an elected representative, as opposed to the self selecting vanguard party claiming to represent unnamed “tens of thousands” described in this article.

        • John Greenberg :

          “… claiming to represent unnamed “tens of thousands” described in this article.” Where is that claim?

          • Patrick Cashman :

            In the 7:36 AM, 25 June comment by Will Bennington, Organizer for Rising Tide Vermont (per LinkedIn).

            Though I did understate the claim. It was actually hundreds of thousands.

            “And, most importantly, they were representing hundreds of thousands of people across the continent and across the world”

        • Colin Flood :

          Here’s another “fun difference”: the governor has the force of law. All we have are our voices. Why, Patrick, are you against citizens lobbying their elected representatives? Should we just elect them and then roll over for any decision they make?

  6. Keith Brunner :

    Mr. Recchia’s commentary reminds me how much I love a good Red Herring.

    According to Wikipedia, “A red herring is a literary device that leads readers towards a false conclusion, often used in mystery or detective fiction.”

    Mr. Recchia, in attempting to justify DPS’s support of this pipeline, dodges the issues raised by the demonstrators by offering that this pipeline would “provide an outlet for biogas” and expand efficiency programs in the state.

    Biogas? Efficiency? Surely these are laudable objectives. But they’re a complete distraction from the issue at hand, which is whether the Department charged with representing the public interest of Vermont should support the construction of a major fracked gas pipeline, which, as one demonstrator pointed out, would “lock our communities into a continued dependence on fossil fuels.”

    Mr. Recchia’s other justifications similarly fall flat upon closer analysis. In this age of turbulent global energy markets, is it “choice” or “dependence” that we’re getting when we invest millions into new fossil fuel infrastructure? If we were looking for “choice,” wouldn’t a transition to distributed-grid, community supported renewables be the prudent option?

    And let’s be frank: From the poisoning of local groundwater in the frack fields, to the worse-than-coal climate impacts [1], how can anyone honestly argue that fracked gas is “clearly…cleaner for Vermont?”

    If Mr. Recchia and DPS are going to continue supporting this pipeline, my suggestion is that they hire a PR firm to advise them on how to construct a meaningful argument.

    For right now, I would venture to say that “pitiful” is the most apt description of their position on this pipeline.

    [1] http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2011/04/fracking-leaks-may-make-gas-dirtier-coal

  7. Phyllis North :

    Apparently if you get 20 people together for a publicity stunt you can get VTDigger to write an extensive article about your cause.

    • Lance Hagen :

      Better yet, according to Mr. Bennington “they were representing hundreds of thousands of people”. I can see why they are empowered to make demands.

    • John Greenberg :

      Would you apply the same logic to opponents of Vermont wind projects?

  8. Jane Palmer :

    I would just like to weigh in here (again) I am against this pipeline for all of the above reasons and think it is a dumb move for VT.
    But I would like to pose this question to those that support it. If the construction of this pipeline is really intended to be for the good of VT and Vermonters, then why isn’t it proposed to hit the next most populated areas…namely, Waterbury, Montpelier and Barre? They could put it down the 89 corridor and avoid being close to any residences. How about it, Gov? Why Addison County?

  9. The above article indicates that the Conservation Law Foundation has conducted an analysis showing the gas pipeline will add to green house gas emissions.

    Has the Conservation Law Foundation completed an analysis of the green houses gases that would be emitted by the proposed Springfield bio-mass plant? If so, how do the emissions compare to the gas line project?

    If an analysis of the proposed Springfield plant hasn’t been completed, why not?

    • I haven’t found that Conservation Law Foundation has worked much on the biomass issue in Vermont at all.

      It’s part of Vermont’s “biomass blackout,” where the majority of media and large environmental groups hardly speak of the issue in public, as if it were taboo (or nonexistent). Because of it, the majority of Vermonters don’t know a thing about industrial scale biomass energy (they assume it’s the same as a woodstove) and its harmful impacts on public health and the environment.

    • John Greenberg :

      Have YOU “completed an analysis of the green houses gases that would be emitted by the proposed Springfield bio-mass plant? If so, how do the emissions compare to the gas line project?”

      In the alternative, perhaps you’d like to fund CLF (or another organization of your choosing) to do such an analysis? Analyses cost money; CLF, like other non-profits, is supported by donations.

      Are you suggesting that any group which dares to intervene in one docket should ipso facto intervene in all such dockets? If not, just what ARE you suggesting?

  10. Steve Comeau :

    It would be great if there was a renewable fuel that could replace fossil fuels that are used to heat our homes. But there isn’t one right now. Wood will work for some homes, but has pollution issues as well. Most people who want to heat with wood already are. For the reminder, which is most homes, the options are pretty much either a gas or liquid fossil fuel.

    The methane leakage problem is a problem that needs to be solved and will be solved. Replacing fossil fuels for heating with a practical renewable source that does not harm the environment or use prime farm land will be a much more difficult problem to solve and will likely take decades to build out on a practical level. Other solutions like geothermal and thermal solar will also take decades to expand out. For now and the foreseeable future, most of us need to burn fossil fuels to heat our homes.

  11. Greg Lapworth :

    As usual a tiny minority of extremely vocal persons, interfere again. Costing everyone time and money. They cry out “look at me, look at me” without examining their own lives. Let’s see some profiles of these people. Come on journalists do your jobs.
    When Middlebury College really goes “Green” and bans ALL student automobiles from the campus, for a start, then these noisy imposters might be listened to.

    • Colin Flood :

      Here’s a tiny minority: the three-person, unelected, unaccountable Public Service Board. The difference is that the PSB has the power to affect thousands of people with little to no official public input. Why is it surprising, or even offensive, that some of those affected might want a voice in the process?

  12. Matt Cota :

    Regarding Commissioner Recchia’s comment:

    There are no boilers or furnaces in Vermont homes that use #6 oil.
    #6 oil is used by International Paper in New York.

    The heating oil industry is currently selling biodiesel blended heating oil. A 2011 Vermont law signed by Governor Shumlin transitions Vermont homes to a low sulfur bio-blended heating oil. Efforts by the heating fuel industry in Vermont to bring about this change were recognized by Governor Shumlin’s Award for Environmental Excellence.

    The companies that deliver heating fuel have a proven track record in providing liquid and solid biofuel to their customers. To suggest that GazMetro is going to start selling biogas through its pipe is a red herring indeed.

  13. Townsend Peters :

    The Department of Public Service acts illegally. Vermont law requires the performance of a life cycle cost analysis.

    The Dept. has no authority to say life cycle cost analysis should not be done because the Dept. thinks it’s not useful. State lawmakers have trumped that authority.

    If VGS has not a full life cycle cost analysis, then the Dept.’s duty is to oppose the project and the Public Service Board’s duty is to deny approval.

    The statute for the Public Service Board’s certificate of public good process expressly incorporates another Vermont statute that _requires_ life cycle cost analysis:

    30 V.S.A. § 248(b)(2):

    “In determining whether this criterion is met, the board shall assess the environmental and economic costs of the purchase, investment, or construction in the manner set out under subdivision 218c(a)(1)(least cost integrated plan) of this title . . . ”

    http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=30&Chapter=005&Section=00248

    The incorporated statute, 30 V.S.A. § 218c(a)(1) (emphasis in CAPS):

    A “least cost integrated plan” for a regulated electric or gas utility is a plan for meeting the public’s need for energy services, after safety concerns are addressed, at the LOWEST PRESENT VALUE LIFE CYCLE COST, INCLUDING ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC COSTS, through a strategy combining investments and expenditures on energy supply, transmission and distribution capacity, transmission and distribution efficiency, and comprehensive energy efficiency programs. Economic costs shall be assessed with due regard to:

    (A) the greenhouse gas inventory developed under the provisions of 10 V.S.A. § 582;

    (B) the state’s progress in meeting its greenhouse gas reduction goals;

    (C) the value of the financial risks associated with greenhouse gas emissions from various power sources; and

    (D) consistency with section 8001 (renewable energy goals) of this title.

    http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=30&Chapter=005&Section=00218c

  14. Jim Barrett :

    20 people demonstrate out of a state with hundreds of thousands of people and this is NEWS?

    • Michael Reddy :

      The news is that the DPS, charged with representing ratepayers and the people of Vermont, submitted testimony on June 14 that was completely inadequate and failed to complete the life cycle analysis of “natural” gas as required by law.
      The news is that Gaz Metro, which owns Vermont Gas Systems as well as Green Mountain Power (which sponsored Shumlin’s inaugural ball, built a huge industrial ridge line wind project against public opposition, and which just bought out CVPS to gain control of 70+% of the Vermont electricity market and control of the VELCO utility corridors) is again being green-lighted to expand it’s infrastructure at the expense of generations of Vermonters to come.
      “Natural” Gas is primarily methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than CO2. In order to be equal to coal in greenhouse emissions, the leakage rate of gas would have to be less than 2% from extraction through transportation all the way to utilzation. This is just not the case.
      There is no way for the development of fossil fuel infrastructure to serve Vermonters in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions in the future.
      Banning Fracking in Vermont was a good move. Developing infrastructure to increase the importation of fracked gas to Vermont is not. It is NIMBYism of the worst sort. It is the embodiment of imperialism and colonialism. It is saying that even though we recognize that fracking is too damaging to the environment to allow in Vermont, it is OK/desirable to frack gas on First Nations territory in Alberta, Canada in order to serve our needs.
      I’m sick of Vermont being controlled by Canadian Energy Conglomerates. No new pipelines in Vermont! No fracking in Alberta, in Pennsylvania, or in New York!

  15. John Greenberg :

    “The premise is the protestors represent Vermont.” WHOSE premise?

  16. Eric Robichaud :

    Rutland would make a good location for a natural gas fired electric plant. Hmmm.

    • Eric Robichaud :

      Once the permit to bury a natural gas pipeline UNDER Lake Champlain is denied (think protests of Portland Gas pipeline that is under land is being opposed) Gaz Metro will ask themselves. What are we now going to do with this massive pipe buried under ground?

      • Jason Farrell :

        Natural Gas transmission lines are 2 to 3 ft (roughly) in diameter. NG supply pipes, distribution pipes and service lines are significantly smaller (ranging from 3/4″ – 7″). These lines will supply a far cheaper source of heating fuel to residents and business in every community the transmission line traverses, as well as the city of Vergennes. That’s what Gaz Metro will be doing with this “massive pipe buried under ground” even should their plan to bring this significantly cleaner and cheaper pipeline to Ticonderoga.

        Were International Paper and Gaz Metro’s plan implemented, beyond saving jobs and increasing profits for both companies, burning NG would result in a significant reduction in the amount of pollutants IP currently emits into our air in Addison County.

        The plan as it’s presented currently doesn’t include Rutland, but with the high density of dwellings in that city, town and county, it does make logical sense to extend it there, too, in the future.

    • Annette Smith :

      From a certain perspective, yes, Rutland makes sense for a natural gas power plant. A desktop perspective in two dimensions, perhaps.

      Three dimensionally, Rutland is in a bowl, and suffers from inversions and poor air quality and high rates of air-pollution related illnesses.

      Rutland is therefore not a good location for a natural gas power plant. The Vicon Incinerator, Outdoor Wood Boilers, a proposed 1080MW Natural Gas Power Plant, all proving over and over that Rutland is not a good place to site an industry that contributes to air pollution.

  17. Colin Flood :

    The point is that landowners and citizen’s groups do not have the resources to pursue a long and expensive court case, and moreover, corporations with no eye to the public good aren’t even expected to — they are assumed to have more of an interest in the project than human beings. So we find leverage wherever we can.

  18. Colin Flood :

    Plenty of locals and landowners are against this project. Your premise is that ALL of the protestors were A) not just college students, but specifically Middlebury College students, and B)from any other state except Vermont. Any evidence for that claim?

  19. Jane Palmer :

    I see a lot of banter between folks whether or not the Rising Tide people should be protesting or not. That is not the issue and if you focus on the protest, and not the issue, then you are totally missing the point. The point of a protest is to bring attention to a problem. And if a citizen sees a problem with the way things are being run by our elected or appointed officials, they have a right to speak up and make a stink about it. That is one of the great things about this country. You don’t have to agree with what the protesters are saying. They are there to get people to THINK about what is going on and if you think about the issue and come up with a different conclusion, they have still served a purpose because they have raised the issue. (And apparently, judging by the number of comments here on VT Digger, they did a great job!)

    This pipeline is a BIG deal for Vermont. The DPS weighed in and they took what looks like a pretty narrow view of the project. The more I research the “natural” gas industry, the more I see this is not only a bad idea, but the reasons our governor and others support it are pretty sketchy. In reviewing the testimony in the 248 process, I see spread sheets and reports and boatloads of projections. A lot of really smart people have gone over the figures presented by VGS (in their testimony) and have found some omissions and discrepancies. If you want a loan for your business, would you present a pessimistic cash flow projection ? Of course not. So VGS has presented a rosy picture to the PSB to show their project in a good light. And this is the classic example of a viewer seeing what they want to see in the figures. (Actually, the testimony of Jatinder Kumar, an energy consultant from Maryland that the DPS hired as a witness, admitted that “ the VGS overstated the benefits associated with the ANGP” but he goes on to support it anyway.)

    The way I read it, the DPS asked these questions about the ANGP.

    1) Will the price of “natural” gas go up, and how much?

    2) Is methane escaping into the atmosphere and if so, how much? (and does it matter in regards to this project?)

    3) Will this project do more good for Vermonters than it will cost them?

    If you want this pipeline, you will predict the price of “natural” gas will stay competitive with other fossil fuels.
    If you want this pipeline, you will say the leakage isn’t that bad.
    If you want this pipeline, you will have answered the first two questions in such a way that the answer to the third one is a given.

    Those of us that oppose this pipeline will disagree with the above predictions. Historically, fossil fuel prices are extremetly volatile and gas prices are not currently sustaining. And just because you can’t see gas escaping doesn’t mean it is not happening. There are a host of other reasons I believe this pipeline is not only a bad idea, I believe it will cause more harm than good, but mostly I think this project is not designed with Vermonters in mind.

    What the protesters are asking the DPS to do, is to look at more than those three questions….look at the big picture…the whole enchilada. Because what is good for Vermont is (as it should be) good for the rest of the world.

  20. Eric Robichaud :

    Also worth mentioning is that the PSB has allowed VGS to charge their current customers a higher rate than they should in order to support this project. My guess is that is multi millions of dollars. All other nat gas utilities around us have had substantial rate decreases. Not Gaz Met. In most businesses if you want to expand you use your own funds. Not Gaz Met. They are allowed to overcharge. If this pipeline gets shut down they will owe those millions back.

    How come we never hear about this? This is the real story vtdigger. Dig dig dig.

    Perhaps Mr Recchia could inform us how much money VGS has overcharged its customers the past few years to support this project.

    Mr Recchia?

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