Astronomy Picture of the Day

Wednesday, December 7, 2016



Winter's night, 
Longer every day,
For a  few more weeks.

****BRAKING, ERR, BREAKING #Fracking #Gaz Update Call to Action to curb Fraction, err, #Fracking


Let me assure you, friends, this is a chance to put a chink in the armored, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent,
Out of touch,
Old administration fragments of old deals.

my sincere appreciation of Melanie cannot be put into words...

Hi Everyone!

On Thursday and Friday December 8th and 9th (and possibly on the 12th, 13th, and 14th), the Public Service Board will be taking testimony regarding VGS's rates and also regarding VGS's alternative regulation plan. These two dockets will affect how rates are calculated for different kinds of customers, what return on equity VGS is allowed to receive (the way that the company profits from its infrastructure investments and makes money in general) AND how much of the total cost of the pipeline VGS will be allowed to recover from customers.  This last bit is really important because VGS and DPS kept saying during the second remand proceedings that the approval of the Project was a completely different question from whether customers could be charged for it or the ANGP costs could be recovered from ratepayers! They said those issues would have to addressed in VGS's rate case. WELL, THE RATE CASE and VGS'S FINANCIAL RECKONING HAVE FINALLY ARRIVED! 

If you have time, please attend one or more of the upcoming technical hearings to make sure that Public Service Board knows that we are still paying attention, and we don't think that VGS should get a penny from Vermonters for any unjustified expenditures to build an ill-conceived and mismanaged project. 

WHEN:  December 8th, 9th, 12th, 13th, and 14th (the last day or two could be cancelled if they get through all of the testimony earlier) - starting at 9:30 AM and likely running throughout the day until 4:30 p.m. or thereafter. The actual schedule will probably be discussed on the first day. I will send out an update that evening. 

WHERE:  The hearings will be in Montpelier. Most will take place in the Pavilion Building, but one day of hearings will be at the PSB in the People's Bank Building.

12/8: The Pavilion Auditorium, Pavilion Building, 109 State Street. Enter through the side entrance on Governor Davis Avenue.  Photo ID required!

12/9: The Pavilion Auditorium, Pavilion Building, 109 State Street. Enter through the side entrance on Governor Davis Avenue.  Photo ID required!

12/12: Vermont Public Service Board, Susan M. Hudson Hearing Room, Third Floor, People's United Bank Building, 112 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont

12/13: The Pavilion Auditorium, Pavilion Building, 109 State Street. Enter through the side entrance on Governor Davis Avenue.  Photo ID required!

12/14: The Pavilion Auditorium, Pavilion Building, 109 State Street. Enter through the side entrance on Governor Davis Avenue.  Photo ID required!



The MOU that VGS and DPS signed to save the project from cancellation late last year put a cap on how much VGS could recover from customers with a couple of exceptions like costs associated with protests or vandalism and costs associated with "delayed access to the ROW." HOWEVER, VGS is still obligated to prove that its expenditures were prudent, that they are "known and measurable" and that customers will actually benefit directly from the infrastructure. In addition to the ANGP, VGS is seeking to include the Phase VII looping project and over 40 smaller capital projects or system upgrades in rates.

DPS's cost assessment and rate expert originally said that the PSB would be justified in denying ALL of VGS's approximately $168 million costs for capital projects because of imprudent decisions (mostly stemming from poor project management), poor record keeping, and the company's inability to prove that the costs could be measured accurately, including when the projects would actually go into service. Finally, he questioned whether some infrastructure upgrades would actually benefit customers this coming year or at all. The big takeaway from his testimony is that there are several instances in which VGS didn't provide ANY reliable supporting documentation for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars of expenses, but because the projects themselves either are necessary for the functioning of VGS's system or a total denial of recovery of costs would be a financial hardship for VGS, he still recommends allows the entire or nearly the entire cost. 

HOWEVER, despite the fact that he could have recommended disallowing all costs, he actually only recommended disallowing ONLY $35 million of over $168 million in proposed cost recovery (including the $134 million under the ANGP rate cap MOU) and another $34 million for the Phase VII looping and other projects! In the past, when this same consultant has recommended disallowing some costs, the PSB has ultimately decided to disallow even less than recommended! THE PSB NEEDS TO KNOW THAT PEOPLE ARE PAYING ATTENTION! 

The Board held a public hearing on the rate case in Colchester this past summer before all of the information was made available to the public and before the Department of Public Service's accounting expert made his final evaluation and recommendations, which can be found here: (the most interesting parts related to the ANGP are from pages 7-72; it's double spaced with really narrow margins so it's shorter than it seems). IF YOU CAN'T ATTEND A HEARING YOU CAN STILL SEND COMMENTS TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD AT: Just remember that this case is about whether VGS customers should have to pay for the pipeline. Whether the project was a good idea in the first place given climate change, environmental devastation, etc. isn't under review. This case will determine who pays for all of VGS's mismanagement and wasteful expenditures if this pipeline ever goes into service. 

It's also important that the PSB know whether VGS ratepayers are actually wiling to pay for imprudent expenditures and bills, for which VGS can't even produce invoices or receipts! So, if you have friends, who are ratepeysers, let them know that they can send their opinions and public comments to the PSB at:

Perhaps most importantly, at this stage of the game - considering the elections and the fact that a new administration will be coming in - Please help educate the public (and our new Governor and legislators) about this very complex topic - at least so that the average natural gas customer understands that he or she is being charged for pipeline construction costs that resulted from poor management or that haven't even been supported with receipts, estimates, or work orders!!!! LET THEM KNOW THAT THIS IS AN OUTRAGE AND PEOPLE WON'T STAND FOR VGS GETTING A BLANK CHECK TO SPEND RATEPAYERS' MONEY WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY. 

Maybe if VGS has to pay its own way for unnecessary, environmentally disastrous and obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure, pipeline expansion won't be quite so attractive. 

In the meantime, hopefully, the Geprags Park Protectors will stop the ANGP (and then all of the project's costs could be denied!).

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” Buddha

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Swamp Morning

A fine spring morning moment,

Looking across the lowlands,
The Swamp.
Our property, down there, a so called swamp lot,
10 acres of mystery.
I've never stepped foot on it,
But am proud we own it.

Each year, we pay taxes,
Each year we wonder,
What will become of this special place,
The Moors.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Solidarity Call to Participate

Latest from Henry and the anti Trans Vermont Pipeline group
In Solidarity with our neighbors out West.


Hi folks -
You may have heard that the Army Corps of Engineers is denying the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline for the time being. This decision is subject to appeal, and will likely only stall the project until the Environmental Impact Statement is complete. We are keeping our boots on and going to continue to support this fight. We invite you all to join us :)
Here's the details for those who haven't yet seen it. Hope to see you tomorrow.



The majority of the masses of people at this action will be those who intend to show their support for the Water Protectors and not get arrested. However, we are actively recruiting at least 50 people to risk arrest in nonviolent civil disobedience to close TD bank, a major funder of security-force violence and the destruction of sacred lands at Standing Rock. Please join us in meeting the call to action! Dress for the weather and dress in your fancies (avoid the tattered hoodie, if possible)!

In recognition of specific asks of action in solidarity with Standing Rock, we expect all people involved in this action to adhere to the following agreements and principles of nonviolence:

Action Agreements for December 5th, 2016
  • I will recognize that indigenous people are leading this struggle and will not engage in erasing or appropriating their experiences and history.
  • I will be dignified and respectful in my behavior and communication and will avoid using vulgar language and gestures. These are serious issues, and our actions must be worthy of respect.
  • I will be nonviolent in my actions and communication and will maintain decorum in all of my activities during the action. I will not engage in destruction or defacement of property or in actions that could physically harm another person.
  • I will recognize the human rights of others and my individual responsibility to respect and uphold them.
  • I assume all risks that may stem from taking part in this action. I will take accountability for my actions.
  • I will respect the hard work of the organizers by helping to make the plan successful. This includes respecting the roles and responsibilities of the action liaisons. This action has a predetermined Police Liaison (someone who will communicate directly with law enforcement as long as possible), a Worker Liaison (someone who will communicate directly with workers or employees), and a Media Liaisons (people who will communicate directly with the media).
  • I will defer to the predetermined media spokespeople and to the media liaison to communicate with the media.  I will stay “on message” while/if engaging with the media and passersby.
  • I will not criticize, attack or undermine anyone's actions to the police, the media, or the public at large, but will make any concerns I have known to the organizations involved in order to improve our work together.
  • I recognize that the individual workers at TD bank are not responsible for the actions of TD bank. We will be respectful and courteous to workers at this action.
  • I understand that any solidarity action naming Standing Rock will reflect back on the tribe, not on the white people doing the solidarity actions.

What to bring/what not to bring

What to bring:
  • Cellphone (we may be making calls as part of the action)
  • A drink container (to minimize the need for disposable cups)
  • Any food or drink that you need (there will be food but we may not be able to accommodate specific needs)
  • For those risking arrest: Driver’s license or other photo ID
  • Respect, humility, and a sense of humor
What not to bring:
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Anything that may be considered a weapon, including pocketknives
  • Anything that you don't want to lose or that slows you down
What to wear:
  • Dress warmly, for the possibility of snow
  • Dress for respect, with the understanding that Standing Rock Solidarity actions are ceremony, and that poor dress in media photos reflects poorly on the movement
  • Waterproof or water resistant footwear

There is a rideshare list and signup! Check it out, and see if you can carpool!:

Please plan to join us, and help us spread the word.

Central VT Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Central VT Climate Action, Upper Valley Affinity Group, Educators and Parents for Racial Justice (EPRJ), the Make, and RisingTide VT.
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Another Year

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Machine

                          🔲  From   🔷 Cradle   🔵  To  🔷  Grave  🔲

The Machine

The Machine has cogs,
Gears turning, meshing, working,
From Cradle to Grave.