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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gaz Updates #fracking


Sun Tzu...The Art of War
Divide and conquer...
Last night I finally blogged an update but deleted over a hundred updates no longer relevant just 2 weeks ago. Light speed in bureaucratic land.
It is how "they" win.
There is some serious money going to those who want this.
Mary Gerdt

I guess that fighting on all these fronts
naturally wears a person out,
Divide, Conquer, Confuse.
Seeing the anti pipeline signs in Virginia,
I saw how each little person fighting
scatters our enegies.
If you can help,
do it.
meg
 Rebecca summarized our problem well:
I thought I could go to bed, but no rest for the wicked…. Please, folks, this requires a little legwork in multiple towns, but is important and exactly the problem here in Vermont — some folks want to perpetuate the myth that gas is somehow…sustainable…or equivalent to renewables. Let’s make sure that myth is not codified into law.

Thanks!!!
Rebecca


From our stop gas pipeline group:

action steps...

I've attached Carl's whole email, but in short, next week, member towns and cities will be voting on proposed changes to VLCT's municipal legislative agenda, and some of the changes would significantly undermine the state's efforts to move to 90% renewable energy by 2050 — as well as potentially step back our commitment to climate action.

Provision 4.06 F (see below for more info) could be interpreted to put natural gas expansion over renewable energy development and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

What You Can Do
1) Find out whether your municipality (through its Select Board, City Council, or whatever the chief legislative organ is) has or will appoint a representative to the VLCT annual meeting next Thursday, Oct 9, in Essex Junction. More info about it on the VLCT home page, www.vlct.org.

If there is someone representing the town, please raise these concerns with that person. If no one is representing the town, ask to be appointed to represent the town, and go to the meeting.

If you are going, or have found an ally in the town representative to the annual meeting, please contact Carl at carl@etnier.net so he can be in contact with like-minded people ahead of the meeting.

2) Carl submitted amendments to roll back these provisions, and the board will consider them when they meet the night before the annual meeting, Please email your support for leaving 4.06 A as it is and striking proposed 4.06 E and F in their entirety to Karen Horn (khorn@vlct.org) and ask her to send your comments to the VLCT board, with copies sent to members of the Quality of Life and Environment Policy Committee.





The Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) holds its annual meeting next Thursday, October 9, in Essex Junction. There is an issue that recently came to my attention that deeply concerns me, and I think might also concern other Vermonters interested in advancing renewable energy solutions and doing our part to address climate change.

Next week, member towns and cities will be voting on proposed changes to VLCT's municipal legislative agenda, and some of the changes would significantly undermine the state's efforts to move to 90% renewable energy by 2050 — as well as potentially step back our commitment to climate action. In particular, provision 4.06 F (below) could be interpreted to put natural gas expansion over renewable energy development and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. This is troubling and potentially very problematic for expanding distributed, local, renewable energy solutions in Vermont. Can you let other energy committee leaders know and ask them to take action — I’ve included far more information for them and you below. Please do what you can!

Substance of the Changes...
I've attached a PDF with the year's proposed changes.

The clause numbered 4.06 E in the proposed numbering is new from last year. Some of us stopped it from being incorporated into the 2013 municipal agenda, but it was passed for the 2014 version. That clause undercuts the "we're all in this together" approach that the Public Service Board (PSB) is directed by the legislature to take with respect to electricity generation. Now, the PSB is instructed to consider whether new electrical generation "will promote the general good of the State" and to give "due consideration" to "the recommendations of the municipal and regional planning commissions, the recommendations of the municipal legislative bodies, and the land conservation measures contained in the plan of any affected municipality" (30 V.S.A. § 248). Raising the bar to giving "substantial consideration" to municipal concerns makes it that much harder to approve new renewable energy projects that a vocal group in a host or neighboring municipality objects to.

Again, this clause is in the existing VLCT legislative agenda, but new from last year. The proposed 2015 agenda contains a further modification to 406.E making host municipalities automatic parties to any Section 248 proceeding, i.e., PSB processes to approve new gas and electric purchases, investments, and facilities. As parties, they can call witnesses, argue, cross examine, and appeal decisions. The host municipality may now request party status and be automatically granted it; that is enough.

Perhaps the most egregious change is 4.06 F, which completely undercuts any notion of a statewide energy plan for a transition to renewables. (It also undercuts 4.06 A). The clause reads:
When considering a CPG application pursuant to 30 V.S.A. Section 248, the PSB should find that a clean energy project is needed to ensure a reliable energy supply in order for the CPG application to overcome any municipal finding that the project does not conform to the municipal plan.

(My emphasis.)

VLCT citing reliability only significantly undermines and undercuts the need to bring renewable energy online, for all the reasons its important to do so — 1) fossil fuels are finite, increasingly expensive and harming our planet. Yes, we need reliable power but we also need long-term, 21st century solutions. The state is not trying to get to 90% renewables by 2050 because non-renewables are unreliable. (That may be a good reason to do so, but it's not the primary driver.) We're trying to do so to shoulder our responsibility in reducing our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. If the PSB must find that a renewable energy project replaces a less reliable energy source, it will be much harder to approve new energy projects.

And what is a "clean energy project"? Notice that 4.06 A contains a modification of "renewable" to "clean," which I assume is meant to open the door wider for natural gas, which many scientists argue has at least as large a climate change impact as coal, and/or nuclear. Even coal with (fantasy) carbon sequestration is called "clean" by some people. Let's keep our eyes on the ball of renewables.

What energy committees can do
Find out whether your municipality (through its Select Board, City Council, or whatever the chief legislative organ is) has or will appoint a representative to the VLCT annual meeting next Thursday, Oct 9, in Essex Junction. The Annual Meeting starts at 2 pm. (There's lots of information about it on the VLCT home page, www.vlct.org.)

If there is someone representing the town, please raise these concerns with that person.

If no one is representing the town, ask to be appointed to represent the town, and go to the meeting. Karen Horn of the VLCT assures me that VLCT rules allow the town to appoint any municipal official, including an energy committee member, to represent the town. (If there's any doubt, I can forward the email from her.)

If you are going, or have found an ally in the town representative to the annual meeting, please contact me at carl@etnier.net so I can be in contact with like-minded people ahead of the meeting.

Organized efforts like these to peddle back from Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan goal of meeting 90 percent of Vermont’s energy needs in the year 2050 from renewable resources or statutory goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions 75 percent by 2050 are shortsighted and troubling. I encourage everyone who can to show up at the annual meeting and vote--that's the only way to ensure that the VLCT representatives are not instructed to undercut the state's move to renewables.

Another way to influence the proceedings, whether you make to the annual meeting or not, is to contact members of the VLCT board. I have submitted amendments to roll back these provisions, and the board meets the night before the annual meeting, Oct 8, to consider the amendments. Please email your support for leaving 4.06 A as it is and striking proposed 4.06 E and F in their entirety to Karen Horn (khorn@vlct.org) and ask her to send your comments to the VLCT board to consider at their October 8 meeting, with copies sent to members of the Quality of Life and Environment Policy Committee.

Thanks!

Cheers,
Carl





Carl Etnier
Selectboard member, Town of East Montpelier
carl @ etnier.net

This email and any replies to it are public records, subject to Vermont's public records law.


--

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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