Annette Smith is executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, an organization she co-founded 15 years ago with Vermont citizens when a large energy project was proposed for her region. After successfully defeating that project, Annette has worked with Vermonters throughout the state to defeat large quarries, landfills, farms, and other large energy proposals while also improving Vermont’s groundwater protection laws. Annette has lived off-grid with solar in Vermont for more than 20 years, hand milks a cow, has a flock of chickens, grows most of her own food including citrus in a greenhouse, and seeks change through collaboration when possible and opposition when necessary
The best advice: “Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am— a reluctant enthusiast … a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this much: You will outlive the bastards.”
Edward Abbey (1927-1989)
Those words, on a large plaque, were given to me years ago by one of my sons. The plaque sits off to the side of my work desk and, to this day, I am moved by Abbey’s passion for wild places, the importance of holding onto those wild places, and why we should trek through those places.
Abbey’s reflections on “The Best Advice” came back to me after an interview with two Vermonters who deserve a great deal of credit for their work to preserve an untouched stretch of pristine land in Rutland County.
Thanks to the hard work of local people, everyday Vermonters who love the land and, in particular, Annette Smith and Justin Lindholm, two people who worked like hell, we have a huge parcel of prime property in which to “ramble,” a large chunk of land that, if those people “hypnotized” by profits had their way, the mountain tops of that wild land would forever be marked by the languid swoosh-swoosh-swoosh of 60 giant windmills.
Vermont Business Magazine A core group of Vermonters, with experience in natural science, public policy and environmental history, have released The Mountain Manifesto, an urgent and public call to action to protect Vermont’s mountains, according to Annette Smith, Executive Director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, in a statement released Sunday (http://mountainmanifesto.org).
Published online, the Manifesto declares, “the mountains are now under siege, as they have been before, but this time for the seemingly-insatiable human craving for energy. The siege is relentless, the need for defense more urgent.”
The Manifesto’s core statement begins, “The ecological integrity of the Green Mountains is essential to the health of Vermont’s lands, its air and its waters, and to all the life — human and otherwise — that dwells on and in them.” It is that integrity the group seeks to protect.
Contributing writers Bruce S. Post and Charles W Johnson have included essays on mountain ecology and Vermont environmental history to educate Vermonters and others about what is at stake as the Green Mountains face another tide of mountain destruction. Readers are encouraged to take direct action by becoming Mountain Protectors (http://mountainmanifesto.org/mountain-manifesto-6/).
The Mountain Manifesto has been made available courtesy of Vermonters for a Clean Environment. A print version of the Manifesto will be released soon, the statement said. Smith has been a vocal opponent of large-scale wind-energy developments in Vermont.
Source: March 12, 2017. Vermonters for a Clean Environment
Testimony of Annette Smith, Vermonters for a Clean Environment S. 52
Vermont Senate Finance Committee
Feb. 7, 2016
My name is Annette Smith. I am Executive Director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment. Thank you Madam Chair and the Committee for inviting my testimony today. For the last two years I have worked with Vermonters involved with solar projects to assist them in participating in the process at the Public Service Board. For nearly eight years I have worked with Vermonters involved with wind projects and have assisted towns and neighbors with their participation at the PSB. I have also worked with Vermonters on biomass plant applications to the PSB.
Senators Lyons, MacDonald, and Sirotkin may recall I asked to testify to this committee last year, after the Attorney General’s investigation — following up on a complaint that I was engaged in the unlicensed practice of law by assisting Vermonters in participation at the PSB — was closed. The summary of my testimony was that the AG’s investigation proved that the PSB is a legal process and the public gives up rights when they attempt to participate without a lawyer, and the public needs a lawyer.
The day after my testimony, the PSB Working Group was added to S.230, which became S.260 and enacted as Act 174. I was invited to present to the Act 174 Working Group and offered substantive input on problems and solutions.1 S.52 proposes amendments related to PSB proceedings based on the recommendations of the Working Group. The purpose of S.52 relates to the public’s access to PSB proceedings.
Before I comment on the specifics in S. 52, I would like to offer some new perspective on the challenges that Vermonters who are neighbors of proposed renewable energy projects face when confronted with a project in their community. These challenges extend to towns and regions, not just neighbors.
My thinking on this topic has evolved in the last year, and especially in recent days because of a recent PSB Order. I have realized that the problems the Vermont public experiences with the PSB process go beyond the specifics of what happens during PSB proceedings, and are much more extensive due to the statutes put in place by this legislature, the way the PSB is interpreting those statutes, and the PSB’s ability to make a finding of “the public good”, which is not defined.
Annette Smith: The Kafkaesque world of windmill neighbors
by Annette Smith
The definition of “Kafkaesque”: “Describing something that is horribly complicated for no reason, usually in reference to bureaucracy.” Neighbors of operating and proposed wind projects are watching in disbelief as they witness the Public Service Board (PSB) issue Orders affirming the rights of the wind industry while putting neighbors through expensive, time-consuming legal processes that tramples neighbors’ rights and provide no relief. Continue reading →
Video of testimony by Kevin Burke of ANR, Jeff Nelson of VHB, Justin Lindholm of VCE, and Geoffrey Goll of Princeton Hydro for VCE, Jan 26, 2017. The testimony is about the experimental high elevation stormwater system on the Lowell Mountains, for Green Mountain Power’s Lowell Wind project.