Saint Albans Messenger; September 21, 2016
I read with some weariness the letter by Swanton resident Chris Maynard wherein he mentions the altruistic Belisle family, who claim to be taking steps to forestall global warming. I believe that Mr. Maynard deceives himself here on at least two accounts. First, the contribution of the proposed project to halting climate change is, unfortunately, infinitesimal, and is overwhelmed by the documented growth of coal mining and use in China and India. Second, this project adds zero to Vermont’s renewable energy goals if the renewable energy credits are sold out of state.
I too am interested in Vermont’s motto “Freedom and Unity.” In fact, I’m currently reading “Freedom and Unity, A History of Vermont,” by Sherman, Sessions, and Potash. I note the relevance of the comments by George Perkins Marsh, Vermont Railroad Commissioner in 1858. In his third annual report, Marsh writes, “… the railroad companies, in some of the United States, are so numerous and so strong in pecuniary resources and in the personal influence on their managers and shareholders, that they both exert great weight in modifying the legislation of the State in matters affecting their corporate interest, and even control the political action of the government and the people.”
Vermont did escape some of the worst abuses, but Marsh warns that vigilance and a strong hand were required to keep the railroads in check and make them fully serve their passenger and freight customers. That was nearly 160 years ago. You may swap the word “railroad” for “renewables” and his critique would apply today.