What’s Wrong with Vermont, Anyway?

gentry class - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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What in the world is wrong with Vermont, a state mired in political correctness, demagoguery and foolishness to the exclusion of any semblance of reason?

Vermonters just get wackier and wackier. The state long ago ceased to be part of New England in any meaningful way, having transitioned into the socialist puppet state of what is now Comrade deBlasio’s New York. First, there was Howard Dean (raised in the Hamptons) and now there is Bernie Sanders (raised in Brooklyn) – what more does anyone from middle America who isn’t a devotee of Marx need to know? Well, perhaps they should look at the bizarre energy policies of this condescending, but ultimately stupid, state.

Flag_of_ Vermont

The Rutland Herald carried a story Monday that explains exactly why I’m so harsh on the Vermont of today, once the home of poet Robert Frost who long ago wrote these words:

Forgive me my nonsense as I also forgive the nonsense of those who think they talk sense.

Let me make the same plea, as nothing I see coming out of Vermont on the subject of energy makes any sense, although those in charge suppose they utter nothing else. Consider this from the Rutland Herald story:

When Vermont became the first state to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in 2012, Gov. Peter Shumlin said the ban was “in keeping with our environmental ethic and our protection of our natural resources.”
But the state is likely on the verge of a big increase in the use of fracked gas from Canada.
The aging Vermont Yankee nuclear plant closed in December after much pressuring by Shumlin and others. But the state is still getting significant nuclear power from the Seabrook station in New Hampshire. Its largest utility, Green Mountain Power, gets 9 percent of its mix from Seabrook, company spokeswoman Kristin Carlson said.
Environmentalists were elated when the fishery-damaging Newport 11 dam was removed from northern Vermont’s Clyde River; and they have pushed for more dam removals. But Vermont takes about a third of its power from the huge dams on the rivers of northern Quebec.
All of it raises a question: Is greener-than-thou Vermont just exporting its energy problems?
“We need to take responsibility for where that power comes from and we need to make sure we are meeting our environmental goals in that energy use,” Sandra Levine, senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation, said in an interview. “And that we’re not just protecting our own very small backyard.”

No one living in the real world and not the make-believe one of rabid environmentalists is under any illusions. Vermont is clearly exporting its energy problems and that’s what it’s all about. Fractivism for the aristocratic set is just NIMBYism in one of its mutant forms. But, that’s hardly all that’s wrong here.

It started with Peter Shumlin, a demagogue on par with Alcibiades, Shumlin, as Governor of the green mountain state, decided in 2012 it might be a good idea to score some cheap political points with his politically correct New York emigrant constituency by banning fracking, even though there was no shale gas to be fracked in Vermont. He did so with flourish and the sort of snobby condescension one might expect in those circumstances, as if banning something that wasn’t going to happen was a magnificent moral achievement. He might as well have banned orange groves, but the ideologically blinded voters of Vermont who, after all, elected the self-described socialist Bernie Sanders as their US Senator, lapped it up as Shumlin carried on (emphasis added):

“As we pursue fracking with irrational exuberance injection chemicals into the groundwater of America, it seems we may have taken leave of our senses at times. There is going to be, very soon, in my kids’ and in the Twin Field students’ lives, a shortage of clean water on this planet. Drinking water will be more valuable than oil and natural gas. One can survive – human beings have survived for thousands and thousands of years without oil and without natural gas. We have never known humanity or life on this planet to survive without clean water. In the Green Mountain State we have a long tradition of protecting our natural resources and leaving this planet and this state hopefully better than the way we found it. You can look at the planet two ways. That we inherit it, and can do what we wish with it; or, that it is our responsibility to borrow it from our kids and our grandkids. In Vermont, we take the latter approach. We recognize that we’re borrowing Vermont from our kids and our grandkids. This bill will ensure that we do not inject chemicals into groundwater in a desperate pursuit for energy. It’s a big moment. I hope other states will follow us. The science on fracking is uncertain at best. Let the other states be the guinea pigs. Let the Green Mountain State preserve its clean water, its lakes, its rivers, and its quality of life. This is a job creator. This is a job creator. If we have the clean water, the clean lakes, the clean rivers, the Green Mountains that are preserved, we will win both economically and environmentally. And that’s what this bill is about.”

Shumlin’s pompous statement, delivered on May 16, 2012, may be viewed here. Note the fake seriousness as he pontificates on the ability to live without natural gas, as if he were posturing for some sort of NPR program where such affectation is mandatory:

Energy In Depth completely demolished Shumlin’s statement a few days later in a post originally entitled “Is Vermont Green with Envy,” pointing out the state had, only a year earlier, developed a Comprehensive Energy Plan that, among other things, said (emphasis added):

  • “Natural gas can address two key needs: reduce Vermonter’s reliance on overseas oil for heating and for heavy fleet transportation, and help fill a gap in electric supply. Natural gas offers an opportunity to do these things with a lower carbon footprint than other fossil-based fuels. Although environmental concerns regarding hydrofracture extraction and methane release are significant, Vermont should not turn its back on this resource because it allows a lower-cost, less carbon-intensive source of energy than other traditional fossil-based fuels. As Vermonters noted again and again when providing input to this plan, deployment of all energy sources involves tradeoffs and choices. Vermont should choose to expand natural gas within its existing transmission territory and beyond.”
  • “By mid-century, Vermont should aim to expand its usage of natural gas from its present 5% foothold. Expansion of natural gas would, if environmental controls are heeded, provide carbon reduction benefit for every gallon of heating oil displaced, and it would allow room for the use of natural gas for peaking electric generation and for heavy-duty vehicle fuel.”
  • “The State can, right now, use its fleet to demonstrate the use of compressed natural gas and other emerging fuel technologies, including PEV, to meet the state’s GHG reduction goals per executive order #14-03.”

EID also updated its post just five months later to take note of this story on WCAX:

Wednesday, crowds braved the rain at the Catamount Industrial Park in Milton where NG Advantage broke ground on a new natural gas compressor station. The energy startup plans to tap into the abutting Vermont Gas pipeline, and then truck it to companies looking for an energy alternative.

“From here we’ll be able to load our trailers with compressed natural gas and deliver it to customers who are not on the natural gas pipeline,” Lunderville said…

Estimates show the switch to natural gas could save businesses up to 40 percent on their energy bills…

The move is getting bipartisan support– Gov. Peter Shumlin and former Gov. Jim Douglas were both on hand making the case that natural gas was key to keep Vermont’s economy moving forward.

Call him “shuffling Shumlin,” but he’s hardly the only one living in a green dreamland in Vermont. The state wants no nuclear plants, no hydroelectric dams and no fracking, but it wants lot of natural gas. Here’s a chart, developed from Energy Information Administration data, illustrating Vermont’s natural gas consumption in January of each year going back to 2001:

Vermont

Notice anything? Yes, Vermont natural gas in January, 2015, was 57% higher than it was in 2001 (as against a roughly 3% population gain) and was 38% higher than it was when Shumlin swore off fracking, off-shore drilling and all that other stuff Vermonters don’t and can’t do anyway.

Getting back to the Rutland Herald article, there are some other things worth pondering in our quest to see what’s wrong with Vermont. Read it carefully and you’ll notice  a lot of vague talk about energy efficiency, “small renewable plants” and being “on a path to improve.” That’s government and activist speak for “someday, maybe, once we figure it out.” They’ve got nothing in other words, so they turned to fracked gas produced somewhere else so the Green Mountain state doesn’t lose its charm. “Let those Pennsylvania peasants do it for us” is what they’re saying. We’re happy to do it, of course, but it would be too much for these bloviating Vermonters to acknowledge it and stop with moral posturing?

Finally, there’s a big lesson for voters foolish enough to think shuffling Shumlin made a good move – appeasement of ideologues and radicals never, ever works. Just look at the remarks of Sandra Levine, the senior attorney from the Conservation Law Foundation, who says she’s not satisfied and now wants to make sure “we’re not just protecting our own very small backyard.”

Shumlin, like so many politicians of his ilk in both parties, thought the best way to address Vermont’s energy demands was to throw a fake bone to the fractivists, while talking up natural gas infrastructure to bring in fracked gas from elsewhere. He wanted it both ways and in 2016 he’s out of there, so he succeeded, but the people of Vermont now have to deal with the reality of what he wrought. His successor will have the additional burden of now confronting the enabled Ms. Levine and her kind who said “right on” when he was preaching fractivism and now want the state to actually live up to its word.

Such is the nature of politics in urban states where large blocks of voters uninformed in subjects such as energy production can be easily swayed by demagogues, but Vermont? This is the state that first produced Calvin Coolidge, one of the most sensible people to ever hold public office anywhere (though he moved to Massachusetts). No longer, though. What’s wrong with Vermont, anyway? Is it all those New Yorkers?

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5 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with Vermont, Anyway?

  1. Vermont’s energy policy is to go green at the expense of its neighbors. Burlington is fully into NIMBY even as they declare their city “green”… They are probably afraid to go look at the havoc they created in making this statement. Bunch of two-faced B.S….

    Massachusetts is more of the same – maybe even worse?

  2. i can think of no one better articulating the plight of Southern Tier NY and Delaware basin landowners than Tom Shepstone.

    our minerals value has been obliterated by a campaign of flagrant lies and off-the-charts hypocrisy orchestrated by a handful of the wealthiest people in the region. they own the politicians, the courts, and the media.

    not once, as in never, have i heard a single word uttered by these (fill in the expletive of your choice), that perhaps we should be compensated for what they have illegally taken away. to them we are but stupid hayseeds- without rights- who should be purged from the area. Cuomo went as far as to say that conservatives are not welcome in HIS NY. HIS NY ideally would be a couple dozen people with all the money and all the land presiding over enough disarmed activists and LGBT illegal NYC immigrants to keep him elected.

    i’d be fine with drilling never happening here, but i want to be paid for what they have stolen. that’s how it’s supposed to work in America. we are collectively out several billion dollars already.

    • This is a very late reply, but if you’d like to see how far back the attitude of the ‘Vermont hayseed’ goes back…. There was a movement by UVM in the 1920s to sterilize the Vermont out of this state. We are looked down upon by the asshats and trust funders moving into this state, from NJ, CT, NY, and MA who believe themselves superior to the real Vermonter in all ways. It is insulting and those who are real Vermonters should be very resentful, these people do not have our best interests at heart no matter what they say.

  3. furthermore, you touched on another very important point Tom re the radical activist M.O.— keep moving the goalposts.

    has anyone noticed that since the recent and definitive EPA pronouncement caught them in their lie, the “environmentalists” have moved from: “all your water will be poisoned” to “keeping fossil fuels in the ground”?

  4. Good editorial Tom. The same question should be asked here, “What’s wrong with New York”. I think we are just as whacky!

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