VPIRG signs up nearly 100 businesses to oppose gas pipeline

Nearly 100 small businesses have signed a letter opposing Vermont Gas Systems’ southern pipeline extension through Addison County, saying that natural gas – seen by some as a bridge away from fossil fuels – cannot compete with existing renewable energy options in the state.

“If you ask Vermont Gas what the cost of gas is going to be in a decade, they won’t answer. Well, I know that in a decade, the energy from the sun will still be cheap,” Chuck Reiss, CEO of Reiss Building and Renovation, said in a statement.

The Vermont Public Interest Research Group, an environmental watchdog group opposing the pipeline, held a news conference in Middlebury on Tuesday. VPIRG is gathering signatures from businesses opposing the 41-mile pipeline extension to connect existing infrastructure in Colchester to Middlebury.

Reiss, whose green construction and renovation business is located in Hinesburg, joined more than 90 businesses that have signed on to the letter that will be sent to the Vermont Public Service Board.

The businesses include AllEarth Renewables of Williston; American Flatbread of Burlington, Middlebury and Waitsfield; and Trukenbrod Mill and Bakery of Vershire. Click here for the full list.

VPIRG opposes the pipeline project because it would bring fracked gas from Alberta, Canada, deeper into Vermont. Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, is a process to extract gas that is considered harmful to the environment.

Eileen Simollardes, Vermont Gas’ vice president of supply and regulatory affairs, said it doesn’t makes sense that businesses using natural gas as a heating source would want to prevent others from having the option.

“I immediately noticed that several of the businesses listed are current natural gas customers,” she said in an interview, adding that other signatories were located well outside the proposed pipeline route.

Unless people use wood or electricity sourced from renewables to heat their homes, they use heating fuels, such as propane or oil – fuels that do not burn as clean as natural gas, she said. “Let’s not let the pursuit of the perfect get in the way of pretty darn good,” Simollardes said.

While Vermont Gas has approval from state regulators, several Monkton landowners have held out on signing easement agreements.

The company also plans to supply gas to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga, N.Y., a second phase of the extension that is still pending before the board. This phase would cut down on the costs and time needed to eventually bring natural gas to Rutland (the third phase of the project), Vermont Gas officials say.

VPIRG is asking the PSB to dismiss the second phase of the pipeline expansion, stating the company first needs approval from federal regulators to cross state lines.

John Herrick


  1. Mary Martin :

    “Pretty darn good”? Seriously, the attempt at naivety in that statement cannot hide the big money grab going on.

    VGS is not doing this project to bring Clean energy to Vermont. It is not clean and it is in direct opposition to our State plan for renewable energy.

    VGS is doing this project to line their own pockets and the pockets of Canadian owned, Gaz Metro.

  2. Nancy Fried :

    Until VPRIG stops taking a strong positive stand for destroying the Northeast Kingdom mountains with 500 foot industrial wind turbines, referring to them as “an environmental watch dog group” is just incorrect. A sneaky, dishonest, environmental destroyer dog would be a much more accurate description.

    • Darryl Smith :

      I take offense at comparing VPIRG to a dog, other than that, you’ve got it right. They’re a destructive force in Vermont.

  3. Jack carter :

    “What’s pretty darn good ” about destruction of environment in Alberta, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and
    many more. “What’s pretty darn good ” about destroying the environment, causing numerous health problems, and possibly death to residents living in those areas. Is “pretty darn good” means IP making more corporate profits. Is ” pretty darn good” mean Vermont gas make more corporate profits for gaz metro. Let’s tell the truth, Vermont gas cares nothing about the environment on our planet, cares nothing about about less pollution. Fracking has proven to create at least as much greenhouse gas emission as any fossil fuel extraction and burning. Vermont gas only is concerned with how big their pockets are not Vermonters pockets. “Perfect” is heating with anew technology of air to air heat pumps driven by photoelectric, the only source of power which will not increase in price in the future.

  4. Wayne Andrews :

    If the liberal think tank is consistent they should be questioning the signed up gas using businesses future process of just passing the higher cost of gas on to the consumer. How is that good for Vermonters?
    If this was electricity would those same businesses haul electricity around in batteries?

    • Jeff Noordsy :

      Again, it is not just knee jerk liberals who are opposed to this pipeline. I personally know plenty of gun toting Tea Party types who oppose the project because they believe the Gas Company is not negotiating with affected landowners in good faith and they decry the use of eminent domain proceedings. Eminent domain is, of course, a process typically associated with Big Government liberals and historically, conservatives have railed against it.

  5. Greg Lapworth :

    All one can add is: make a list of the businesses and boycott them and ask your friends to do the same.
    If you are a supporter of the businesses please ask them where they get there current energy source. Then consider whether even you would want to do business with hypocrites if it applies.

    • Mary Martin :

      Greg, we use renewable wood pellets or corn in our furnace.
      It’s not easy to stand up and fight for what you believe in.
      We knew we could risk offending some of our clients and by doing so, lose business.
      But, this is to important. We can’t stand by and watch this happen without voicing our objections.

      • Glenn Thompson :

        Mary, just to point out! :)

        “However, wood and wood pellets have a problem – CO2.
        Wood emits about 2 times the amount of CO2 as natural gas, and wood pellets emit about 4 times as much CO2 — not good!! Only electric heat emits more CO2 than wood products for heating. So, even though wood and wood pellets offer a very cost effective heating solution, they pollute more and harm the earth much more than conventional heating fuels.”


        • Jeff Noordsy :

          Again Glenn, you can’t have it both ways. The great majority of the folks who support this project (yourself included I believe) are climate change deniers. You can’t deny global warming and then use CO2 emissions of wood products as a reason that the pipeline is beneficial to Vermonters. Plus, you know darn well that when considering the COs emissions of natural gas through its ENTIRE life cycle (from the point of extraction to the burner) one can make a reasoned argument that it is fact dirtier than wood and fuel oil. Try again. Perhaps you can once again tell us how offering gas service to 75 Vermonters in Phase Two is “in the public good.” Or maybe the nugget about how natural gas lines cannot be seen so they present less of an impact on landowners than other energy projects.

          • Glenn Thompson :

            Jeff Noordsy, just to be clear I never have considered myself a climate change denier. I understand the Earth from day one has experienced what I would define as the natural evolution of the planet. Study some geological history to understand my point!

            A good source would be the Geological history of Vermont. I follow the science, not the mass hysteria and emotions based on a political agenda. People keep referring to so-called climate change computer models which turns out to be just as accurate as the 10 day extended weather forecast…which is not accurate at all. Read this link!

            “With its center in the middle of the Quebec-Labrador peninsula, the Laurentide Ice Sheet buried all of Vermont under 1 to 2 miles of ice by 18,000 years ago.”

            “During this time, and up until about 1,500 years ago, Vermont’s climate was a few degrees warmer than it is today.”


            As for your other point of the C02 emissions of the “ENTIRE life cycle” of Natural Gas….you must also apply the same to the likes of Solar and wind power and the processes required to turn mined raw materials into finish wind turbines and solar panels. It will turn out…wind turbines and solar panels aren’t exactly C02 emission free!

            Good example would be following the process of mining Rare Earth metals which is required in the manufacturing of Wind Turbine Magnets.


    • Jeff Noordsy :

      I’ll see your unfounded claims of hypocrisy and raise you. A LOT.


      Now THAT’S hypocrisy.

  6. Wayne Andrews :

    Again, strange most of the businesses are “greenies” types so it comes to no shock they would jump aboard so they can grab more clients.

  7. Jeff Noordsy :

    So, let me get this straight Glenn. You are now all about saving the Earth. Great. You are a Greenie. Congratulations. I see that you you sidestepped other, more serious questions about property rights. THIS IS MY ISSUE. I am happy to have environmentalists and Luddites sling poo at each other while I take a stance against eminent domain for (primarily) private profit. You may want to check your “conservative manifesto” for a reasonable response. I’ll let you fight with the environmental types – what say you to Big Government exercising eminent domain?!

  8. walter moses :

    VPIRG is a lap dog for big wind and solar corporations. Paul Burns has no credibility with reference to true conservation.

  9. Walter Cooper :

    I’m not sure attacking transmission pipelines will be a winning strategy long term. I understand the thinking among activists that no pipeline = denial of product. The strategy avoids root-cause explanations and the products will almost certainly get shipped and burned somewhere else–or here by other means.

    An engineered version of the truth is always inferior to the truth. Whether it’s Mark Larson using evasive, lobbyist-speak to avoid explaining the real cost of new insurance or bedeviling hydraulic fracturing as a technology (no worse than others with a fully-cemented well stem), losing credibility is losing credibility. People can smell it.

    Bad policy is often worse than no policy. We still live in a capitalist economy. We all have energy and healthcare needs. With energy the problem is carbon, so attack the carbon. With healthcare the problem is cost (and overtreatment), so attach those. No, it’s not easy, but it’s the more solid, fatigue-free strategy.

    When oil or gas cannot flow via safe pipelines, they start to move by inferior rail and truck. I would much rather have access to shale gas via pipe AND get money to tighten my house to burn less of it. Do you guys think fuel oil and propane are somehow clean? The oil trundling all over the U.S. to make those two product is also a product of domestic fracking. See the Dakotas.

    I understand the strategy of denying delivery, but it wastes political capital and distracts from the core issues. Focus on efficiency and carbon and worry less about a mix-shift towards gas.

  10. Paul Lorenzini :

    Where are the 101 businesses that want it? VPIG didn’t look for opposition? Are they truly for everyones best interests, or only for the ones that love them?



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