On Monday, Vermonters for a Clean Environment received our formal invitation to next Thursday’s award ceremony at ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center in Burlington. We knew we had been nominated for our work on wind energy in the “Courage in Leadership” category, and made it into the finals. What we did not know until Monday is that also in the category for this award, which was pitched as being for “individuals and organizations,” is Green Mountain Power, a corporation, and that VCE has been set up to compete directly against GMP for the award. The “Courage in Leadership” award is
For an individual or organization taking up a cause of environmental conservation or stewardship issues because of a principled position in the face of likely public or political criticism.
Something doesn’t seem right about this. GMP is a corporation, not an organization, and its Lowell project is lacking in principles while enjoying virtually no political criticism.
The program lists an Advisory Committee. VCE learned today that they are not the judges, but were involved in deciding the categories. The judges of the award are not identified.
We are rather surprised that ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center and the Burlington Free Press have allowed two for-profit businesses, GMP and Small Dog Electronics, into the finals of something that was billed as acknowledging the environmental leadership of organizations and individuals. The business community has several high profile awards, including the Deane C. Davis Award and the Terry Ehrich Award, both of which reference the importance of the natural environment as part of their criteria. Even the majority of Vermont’s Governor’s Awards for Environment Excellence are given to businesses rather than individuals or organizations. With this new award, ECHO and the BFP seemed to be creating the first award in the state to honor individuals and organizations focused on environmental work. If the award was open to businesses, it should have explicitly been stated in the announcement.
The winners each get $1000, so it will be interesting to see if the Canadian corporation, Gaz-Metro, owner of Green Mountain Power, ends up receiving a cash prize for developing a for-profit project using tax and rate-payer dollars that would require massive environmental destruction on a scale never seen before in Vermont. Gotta wonder how the judges, whoever they are, might spin the requirement that the winner’s cause show environmental conservation and stewardship.
We thank those of you who nominated VCE. We are honored to have been nominated. However, the sponsors’ choice to pit a small non-profit against a major corporation has put us in the position of not really looking forward to being part of the awards ceremony. On the other hand, this is the story of VCE, taking on corporate Goliaths in the face of what some people think are insurmountable odds.
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