I eagerly reviewed what press I could find after the PSB hearing about the proposed pipeline.
PSB=Public Service Board.
a Quasi-judicial (lawyering/judges)
600 people showed up.
My heart felt hopeful.
how much more opposition needed to tell them, Stop.
The opposition had a bad rap for speaking out of turn.
I disagree and Rebecca helped me understand
the untold story
and the unspoken testimony of a local experienced Doctor.
He made a lot of sense and I post here so the world will have a record.
Now we wait until the board decides.
3 quasi judicians.
Bill Fifield, long outspoken on the pipeline, made sure to get on line at the public hearing early, an hour early. He knew the rules: First come, first speak. He was third in line. While dozens waited, missing out on the rally outside, a buzz started going around that the PSB was going to ask two additional questions on the signup sheet: Are you in support of or opposed to the project; Did you speak at the March hearing. Rumor had it that the PSB planned to alternate speakers who were pro and con, and skip over altogether those who had spoken at the previous hearing unless there was time at the end. This plan, which was imposed on the spot, was not included in the PSB's published rules for the hearing from just last week.
Because there were so many opponents and so few supporters on line, a concern grew that many of the people who had followed the rules by coming early would not get a chance to speak, and that pipeline supporters would, in effect, get to skip ahead. Deeming this grossly unfair, many people on line decided that they had to make a small act of civil disobedience in order to actualize their right to speak. This hearing, after all, was the last chance to speak in public. The rumor turned out to be true, and however well intentioned the rule might have been, had we all complied by answering the questions correctly, the consequence would have been favorable to VGS by skewing the testimony. Only two speakers in the first hour came out in favor of the pipeline, which was, in fact, not a bad representation of all of the people who came to the hearing. Inarguably, it was a good representation of the people who diligently lined up to sign in to speak. If we had not flouted the un-warned rule the third speaker would have been a supporter of the pipeline skipping more than 12 opponents that had duly signed up, Bill included. There might have been more like 15 supporters speaking in that first hour, which is just about all of the people who spoke on their behalf anyway. The media left after about an hour, as they always do, and it would have grossly misrepresented the turnout, and the coverage would not have been as clear a slam-dunk victory for the opponents.
So some of us, determined to speak, marked the boxes in a way that would ensure we got the chance we deserved and according to all the published rules had the right to. We lied, yes. I'm not proud of that, myself, but I felt trapped and calculated that it was justified. Perhaps, if the PSB had properly warned this change, we could have had a more graceful response. Perhaps we could have talked them out of it. If not, perhaps each of us just might not have answered the question -- taken the fifth. But Bill, as he says, is a Boy Scout, and although he fully understood the sabotaging nature of the questions, he answered truthfully because he believed, perhaps, reason would prevail. In any case he just could not lie. He signed up as opposing the project, and as someone who spoke in March. They skipped his name and I, who was fourth, spoke third. Bill waited patiently all night to listen to the others and to see if they might come back around to his name. They did not.
Who should be ashamed? Bill, third in line, was tricked by the PSB out of speaking. Here is what he would have said.
---------------------------------------------------------------Vermont PSB Testimony - September 10, 2013
I’m Bill Fifield, a member of Rising Tide and a retired physician from Middlebury, and I’m speaking tonight because we have very little time left to prevent runaway climate change. Back when the three of you and when I was in elementary school, one of the guiding principles we heard over and over again, not only in school, but at home, at church and at cub scout meetings was that we should always strive to do the right thing. That principle seems to have been lost by many of our elected representatives in Washington; otherwise they would NOT have:
A- Voted down overwhelmingly a resolution simply stating that Congress accepts the EPA finding (supported by 97% of climate scientists) that “climate change is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.”
B- Congress would not have passed legislation introduced by Vice President Cheney (the Halliburton Loophole) that exempted the fracking industry from Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act regulations. In my view, this was unconscionable. In my opinion, we in Vermont should be able to do better than that. So,
- Knowing that Vermont has banned fracking in the state because of environmental and health concerns
- Knowing that fracking fluid contains ingredients that are secret but is known to contain carcinogens such as formaldehyde, benzene and toluene
- Knowing that First American indigenous peoples in Alberta have an incredibly high incidence of biliary tract cancer due to contamination of their drinking water by fracking fluid
- Knowing that Vermont Gas claims that natural gas has 23% lower emissions than other fuels and quotes as a reference, the Energy Information Administration, which is part of the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association for the oil and gas industry
- Knowing that before being burned, methane can and does leak from wellheads, pipelines and storage tanks, and since, in the short-term, is up to 120 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2, natural gas is NOT cleaner than other fuels, as Vermont Gas would have us believe.
- Remembering that, several years ago, James Hansen, the world’s leading climatologist, said that 350 ppm of CO2 was the highest level of atmospheric CO2 that was compatible with the world as we know it, and that we just passed 400 ppm.
- Knowing that if we remain on our present course (burning fossil fuels, including methane) that within 15 (one-five) years, runaway, impossible to stop global warming will begin
- And knowing that Vermont Gas has said that, ultimately, 70% of the methane transported through its pipes will end up at IP, in New York State, and knowing that this will result in considerable short-term profits for a Canadian owned company, why would the VERMONT Public Service Board seriously consider approving this project for the public good of Vermont?
Gentlemen, I ask that when you consider the VGS application for a certificate of public good, that instead of focusing on short term savings and corporate profits, think about our grandchildren and remember what we learned all those years ago, DO THE RIGHT THING and vote against this project. Everyone in this room and indeed, in the state will bear witness to your decision. Thank you.
William K. Fifield, ,M.D. Middlebury