John Dillon did a story for Vermont Public Radio about ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz’ announcement yesterday that she would begin a planning process for wind turbine siting. The intro said:
As VPR’s John Dillon reports, the administration’s plan is not the comprehensive siting process that some environmentalists had called for.
VNRC has been calling for the sort of process Governor Shumlin now says is not happening. VCE has not been calling for a comprehensive siting process. We thought that’s what Governor Shumlin was referring to when he announced the appointment of Deb Markowitz as ANR Secretary. He mentioned the people in the room who could assist with developing a plan for siting.
Silly us, we assumed he meant people would be involved, so as we told you previously, we wrote a polite letter to Governor Shumlin offering our services based on two years of extensive research on the issue, specifically in Vermont. And also silly us, we thought the letter we received on Friday from Governor Shumlin was in response to the letter we sent. No, turns out it was a form letter, which is being sent to anyone who writes to the Governor about their concerns with wind energy.
What VCE has been advocating for is legislative hearings on wind siting and setbacks. Last year, legislation was introduced in the House to begin that discussion, but the House Natural Resources and Energy committee chair refused to take it up, even after a doctor called a committee member asking to be heard. Vermont’s legislature is unique in the country for being open and willing to hear people’s concerns. But on the subject of the siting of big wind turbines, the door has been firmly slammed in Vermonters’ faces.
What ANR Secretary Markowitz is talking about doing is what VCE suggested to ANR in April 2010 when we found this document from Pennsylvania called “Modeling Potential Wind-Wildlife Conflict Areas.” It seemed like a good idea to us so we sent it along to ANR staff, who thanked us. We support what Secretary Markowitz is doing. But that in no way replaces the need to address the humans who are expected to live around big wind turbines on ridgelines. We will be telling you their stories in upcoming posts.
In other news, John Curran of the AP wrote an article about Governor Shumlin’s choice of Ron Shems to head up the Natural Resources Board, which includes overseeing the Water Resources Panel. The case Ron Shems has been litigating on behalf of his client, First Wind, is critically important to something called anti-degradation, a term that sounds wonky but is at the heart of water quality protection.
The subject of anti-degradation implement and the state’s failure to adopt an implementation policy deserves a post of its own. Check back in the coming days to learn why informed Vermonters are fighting so hard to protect the natural resources on the mountain in Sheffield, against the federally-funded corporation called First Wind that has 144 LLCs around the country, and against Governor Douglas’ ANR which fully supported First Wind instead of acknowledging that its permit is not protective of water quality in high elevation streams.