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Comment Archives: Stories: News + Opinion: Environment

Re: “Suburban Spat: Rivalries Flare Around South Burlington Ag Group

Sour grapes. Sounds like the conservatives are holding a grudge. They'll kill a good local cause out of spite. More fighter jets, fewer gardens. It's a weird platform, to be sure.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Egmatic on 07/23/2015 at 2:10 PM

Re: “Murky Waters: Case of Paddling Through Private Land Still Not Settled

25,000 acres is Fifty (50) square miles! How many of those elixir descendants are actually up there in the wilderness on that vast tract, being disturbed by some paddler? Nobody? Cannot even see them without some remote-control camera? Does the stupendous ridiculousness of the Plaintiff's posture not strike a chord?

If I owned fifty square miles of wilderness I would be embarrassed to tell some paddler that he cannot go paddle on some river that runs through it.

Posted by wolfganger on 07/02/2015 at 2:43 PM

Re: “Murky Waters: Case of Paddling Through Private Land Still Not Settled

Waterways belong to us all!

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Lauren Berrizbeitia on 06/25/2015 at 2:34 PM

Re: “Truckin': Natural Gas Deliveries Fuel Industries — and Pipeline Foes

Perhaps it's stating the obvious, but then maybe not…
The facility in Milton, where the trucks are filled is supplied by a pipeline. The same pipeline that currently serves Chittenden and Franklin county residents. The 50,000 (my estimate) homes that are currently served by the pipeline from Canada don't seem to have the issues with the pipeline as others in the south.

Driving through Monkton it amazes me that residents have signs in their yards against the pipeline, yet some have propane tanks in their yards. Seems weird to protest the gas line when they benefit from the same well that produced their propane.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Greg Leech on 05/28/2015 at 7:39 PM

Re: “Truckin': Natural Gas Deliveries Fuel Industries — and Pipeline Foes

Residential customers in Addison County and rural areas of Franklin County could have had trucked CNG or adsorbed natural gas delivered in canisters like propane a long time ago. It’s not physically or technologically impossible. Vermont Gas and the Department of Public Service see these options as threats to VGS’ planned Addison pipeline expansion so they blocked NG Advantage and a newer company, Energtek, which has a canister technology specifically designed to deliver natural gas to smaller businesses and residential customers from delivering their products to Vermont families. How did they do that? They got NG Advantage and Energtek to sign agreements (MOUs) saying that the companies wouldn't serve residential customers in Vermont - seemingly in return for DPS supporting (and VGS not objecting to) the companies' requests that the PSB not exercise its jurisdiction and instead treat them like unregulated fuel dealers. That allowed NG Advantage and Energtek to build facilities and start doing business in Vermont quickly, but locked them out of the residential market.

All of that happened BEFORE VGS even submitted its pipeline expansion proposal. If VGS and DPS had stayed out of it, Vermont families in Addison County (and parts of Franklin County where natural gas is not currently available) might already have the choices of trucked CNG or canistered natural gas. AND, VGS' average residential customers would not have already paid $75 annually since 2011 ($350 to date) in surcharges for VGS’ expensive consultants and lawyers to develop the pipeline expansion project. Current customers would not be facing massive 25-year rate hikes that will add up to over $7000 in EXTRA charges with no benefit to them whatsoever. If you're a VGS customer and don't think that's fair tell DPS. There’s an online form that will send a complaint to DPS here: http://www.justpowervt.org/ratepayers/ .

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by pipeup4pipeout on 05/27/2015 at 11:40 PM

Re: “Truckin': Natural Gas Deliveries Fuel Industries — and Pipeline Foes

There are many misconceptions about those that oppose the fracked gas pipeline. One is that in opposing the build out of fossil fuel infrastructure, we support CNG and the use of other fossil fuels. This is not correct. Personally I would like to make it clear that I support the commitment the State of Vermont has made to switching to 90% non- fossil fuel derived energy sources by 2050 and I oppose the fracked gas pipeline. (for many reasons).
I find it interesting that folks are now admitting that the real reason to build the pipeline was to serve industrial customers like Agrimark and Middlebury College (and IP for Phase 2) ...when all along proponents of the pipeline had been crowing about all the money the "people of Addison County" will save if the project is built. This pipeline NEVER made economic sense if it were only to serve less than 2600 residential customers. It makes even less sense now that the price tag has nearly doubled and the industrial customers have alternatives.
There is no question that more tankers full of pressurized volatile gas on the highways is a bad idea. So...let's do what we say we want to do and stop burning this nasty stuff. In the mean time, putting in insanely expensive pipelines that will increase our dependence on fossil fuel and force ratepayers and land owners to foot the bill, is also a bad idea.

6 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Nathan Palmer on 05/27/2015 at 1:28 PM

Re: “Truckin': Natural Gas Deliveries Fuel Industries — and Pipeline Foes

Please remember that fracked gas is to be used as a bridge fuel toward renewable, green energy. A true bridge fuel does not require a permanent infrastructure across our state. Just truck it while you move off fossil fuels.

5 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Mary M on 05/27/2015 at 11:19 AM

Re: “Sacred Cows: Does Vermont Cut Farmers Too Much Slack on Water-Quality Violations?

Years ago Kim Greenwood was an overzealous "Silt Cop" (that's the nice name the industry had for her) that was set loose on the Contractors of the State to enforce mandated erosion control measures. Why is it Construction enforcement to prevent silt and turbidity from entering the waterways was much more of an educate then penalize approach than the look the other way and "hand hold' kumbaya approach with the "sacred cow" offenders in the Agricultural industry that are still knowingly allowing silt, fertilizers. and fecal coliforms to enter the waterways? If strict enforcement was more evenly and fairly applied across the agricultural spectrum, and was a result of prima fascia violations to immediately stop bad behaviors, instead of the ability of the offenders to be able to pay the fines, it would straighten up the practices of those offenders much quicker, and if not, then lawfully shut them down and sell their herds. Construction used to be a "standard practices" common sense effort too when it came to preventing soils from running off the site, but, because of profit motive and corner cutting mentalities that permeate all businesses real rules, regulations, and procedures that effect ALL in the business had to be instituted to level the playing field and protect the environment at the same time. Did it add to the cost of construction? Sure it did, and it will add to the cost of the operations of working farms too, but , that's part of the cost of doing business in this new age.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by JimM on 04/03/2015 at 8:43 AM

Re: “Sacred Cows: Does Vermont Cut Farmers Too Much Slack on Water-Quality Violations?

The reality of the battle we have been having since moving to Vermont for fresh air/water and "good life" is now in print. Kathryn Flagg, found our file, contacted us last week and wrote this thorough article. Our situation is the final section, "Waiting for Action". We are also grateful that the EPA is demanding Vermont clean up its waste and pollution. This fight has been extremely difficult, but we are not giving up.

To those of you who read this article, a note,,, we bought our property before our "neighbor" bought his. He moved here from Massachusetts. We do not have a problem with anyone raising animals, just do it according to regulations. He built the pen directly adjacent to our property line, without even a buffer. His blatant neglect and ways have impacted the surrounding village and homes, (which are very well cared for). Mr. Girard states he does not have the necessary funds to make improvements (waste water management and manure removal), then how can he comply with AAP regulations?

James and Karen Abbruscato

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Karen Spear Abbruscato on 04/02/2015 at 6:26 PM

Re: “Sacred Cows: Does Vermont Cut Farmers Too Much Slack on Water-Quality Violations?

Thank-you for reporting on this. For years, I've read headlines such as this from VTDigger:

"Vermont's Largest Polluters". (See http://vtdigger.org/2013/05/29/facing-clim…)

In a classic example of how our institutions all-to-often continue to fight the last war, not the current one, the list methodically looks at smoke-stacks. Here's what it ignores: our streams, lakes & rivers. It puts the state's manufacturers as the top polluters in the headline, which isn't helpful, when the larger environmental framework is considered.

The sad fact is that the agricultural community is the long-reigning pollution King. The press, which has all-too-often taken a less-than-generous of big business broadly, and of large businesses specifically, hasn't provided equal scrutiny of ag. This hasn't been helpful, and our lake is the worse off for this malignant neglect.

Is it finally time for fair assessments? Is the third pail of Vermont politics, agriculture, finally no longer untouchable? Bravo, Seven Days for asking the right questions on a difficult topic for Vermont...

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Brandthropologist on 04/02/2015 at 9:59 AM

Re: “Sacred Cows: Does Vermont Cut Farmers Too Much Slack on Water-Quality Violations?

Sacred Cows - Comments
"AAP" (Accepted Agricultural Practices) and "Clean Coal" - probably coined by the same marketing agency.
Both should be seen for what they are - oxymorons!
AAPs were developed in 1995 and 20 years later our lake is in worse shape. There is the message from that
simple fact; the problem being better education is not the one that comes to mind.
AAPs allow for the application of manure within 10 to 25 feet of a body of water. That buffer strip can be
plowed and can be planted. Meanwhile latest shoreland reg prohibit the clearing of lakefront for housing
within 100' of the lake and add other restrictions going back 250'. Homes = bad; Manure = Acceptable.
April 1 is an appropriate date for this article since it is also the beginning date for application of manure on
Vermont fields. As long as the application is not in a currently flooded flood plain or with direct discharge
into a body of water it is acceptable. If the result is an indirect discharge into Lake Champlain, that is
"Acceptable".
Small Farm definition is up to 500 head, with up to 200 milkers
Medium Farm is up to 1000 head with up to 500 milkers
Large Farm is all the rest
Separate farms owned by same parties are considered independent of one another, even if worked by same
employees. One can milk 2000 cows and still be a Medium Farm.
Dept of Financial Regulation sees their role as protecting the public in insurance or financial services
transactions.
DMV protects the public from activities on highways.
Department of Corrections protects the public from criminals.
Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture sees their charge as advancing Agriculture in the State of Vermont.
Does anyone see an inconsistency?

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Marc Landry on 04/01/2015 at 6:52 PM

Re: “Communities Demand More Say on Solar Projects

What do local communities know about what we want to see in each respective community? They only live there?!? "Public good" is not "good for the public" if the community living with the eyesore doesn't have ultimate say in the decision, and the profits don't stay in the community. Let's put some thought into the future of the beauty of this state, huh? Can somebody in the puzzle palace find a way to incentivize placement of these power plants in a community supported way?

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Ben Thomas on 03/31/2015 at 11:06 PM

Re: “Communities Demand More Say on Solar Projects

SunCommon's founder seems to be bent on turning the company into Vermont's own small version of Monsanto, start out with a good idea and then turn into a megalomaniac dominating and destroying all who object. Even though I am not directly impacted by the solar arrays, I definitely feel sympathy as I am continually shocked by the number of panels and how intrusively they have been located. I am sure it saves the solar installers money to set up right beside roadways, but it doesn't do much for Vermont's scenic beauty and rural character. Solar power is a great boon to our society, please put reasonable limits on these people who are taking advantage of a new technology and a dearth of laws. SunCommon and others are making a ton of money, it would be nice if greed for once did not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Penelope on 03/31/2015 at 7:11 PM

Re: “Communities Demand More Say on Solar Projects

Article states: Developers and state officials say they take town plans into consideration and that the process works the way it's supposed to. "If the community puts specification in the town plan, it's not clear that the Public Service Board doesn't take that into account," said Darren Springer, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Public Service.

Darren Springer apparently missed the case of Joe Larkin & South Burlington, even though it was the cover story of Seven Days article on solar last fall. Developer Larkin ignored South Burlington's Comprehensive Plan and so did the PSB. They ignored the official letter they received from South Burlington's own Planning Commission, stating the Planning Commission's opposition to the project because it does not comply with South Burlington's Comprehensive Plan.

Here you have a town that spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars and countless volunteer hours updating their Comprehensive Plan, complying with Governor Kunin's Act 200. The land is zoned for natural resources protection and for a wildlife corridor. Connects all the way down to Shelburne Pond. At most, was supposed to be a park. Instead, thanks to total exemptions from all local zoning and Act 250, it is now carpet-bombed with solar panels.

Tony Klein is a good guy whose heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, he seems entirely comfortable with having gutted Act 250 and undermined local zoning. I get zero impression that he supports anything more than window dressing regarding increasing community input. Vermont Democrats have gone overboard in the wrong direction, abandoning the values of citizen input and environmental protection that got them to this point. They were rightly smacked in the last election and face further losses if they don't get on the right side of this, among other issues.

8 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Chris in S. Burlington on 03/26/2015 at 10:34 PM

Re: “Communities Demand More Say on Solar Projects

I will note the term 'brownfields' mentioned...so I suppose a field that might not get hayed or other wised used for agricultural purposes would be better turned black, into a 'blackfield' than be turned into row houses.

The solar gold rush is making money for Wall Street and the preppy companies pushing the scam...all the while "Wall Street" and Washington destroyed the ability for a farmer to keep the fields green by being able to make a decent living creating essential wealth.

Put the solar panels on roofs and over parking lots.

7 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Bruce Marshall on 03/25/2015 at 11:43 AM

Re: “Water Warrior: James Ehlers Is Lake Champlain's Loudest and Most Divisive Advocate

I would like to echo what is being said by the other commenters. I work with James in a partnering organization and consider him a friend. James has an uncanny ability to build connections and inspire unexpected advocates which is invaluable and refreshing in a time where making a difference can seem impossible. James empowers everyone in his audience to action.
James is a kind soul, full of vim and vigor, with a rebel heart and a refreshingly clear voice--a true advocate and leader. We need more like him. Thanks, James!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Grace Meyer on 02/25/2015 at 12:55 PM

Re: “Water Warrior: James Ehlers Is Lake Champlain's Loudest and Most Divisive Advocate

I've had the privilege and pleasure of serving on the LCI Board of Directors for just under a year now. James' passion and advocacy are what drew me to the organization, and I have found it to be one of the most engaging and hardworking non-profits in Vermont. Under James' direction, LCI has become the leading advocacy organization for the Lake. Perhaps the best testament to his leadership is that he has managed to form partnerships with people and organizations that had not previously paid much attention to the lake. Whether he is speaking to the young women of the Miss Vermont Scholarship Organization, or delivering an address to a gathering of Vermont Social Science Educators, I hope James will continue to show up where he is least expected.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mary Catherine Jones on 02/24/2015 at 4:42 PM

Re: “Water Warrior: James Ehlers Is Lake Champlain's Loudest and Most Divisive Advocate

What an excellent article. I had to chuckle a bit, especially by any comment that talks about James going "too far"....or having to get him "back on the reservation." Then I have to remind myself that they thought Einstein was crazy.

Exactly how far should one go to fight for clean water? It is a very serious question every human being needs to ask. How far would you go to ensure that your water remains swimmable, fishable, and especially drinkable? To take that question a bit further....what would you be willing to do--how hard would you defend your water...if you were the only one who had drinkable water. Get the picture now?

H35 changed considerably from introduction, to making it through the House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources Committee. It will change some more when the Ag Committee gets ahold of it, and even more when it passes through Natural Resources and Energy. By the time this Bill makes it from introduction to passing, we may not even recognize it. It may be a hollow bill, or it may contain the foundation we need to finally begin the long process of saving our lakes, rivers and watersheds.

We don't need James "back on the reservation"....we don't need him complacent, and we don't need his voice silenced. We need James to go far....in fact we need him to go further than ever before. The truth hurts, but polluted waters kill. We should all take the lesser of two evils and listen fully to the truth. Trust me, you will hear nothing but the truth from James.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Judith McLaughlin on 02/24/2015 at 3:46 PM

Re: “Water Warrior: James Ehlers Is Lake Champlain's Loudest and Most Divisive Advocate

As a person who loves to sail, fish and swim in our beautiful Lake Champlain, I know of no other individual or organization that has the pure health of the lake at heart more than James Ehlers.
I became a corporate sponsor last year lamenting the decline of the waters quality. It struck me then that this wasn't enough and joined the LCI board and have been in a continual state of amazement as to the obstacles in the way of simply having clean water.
Powerful interests amazingly at odds with clean water, stand staunchly in the way of a swimmable, drinkable and fishable Lake Champlain. As a board member and advocate for these simple requirements, I ask that anyone who can support James and the LCI mission do so right now. Donations of any kind will help, be they financial, personal time or a product for our upcoming Friends of Lake Champlain Dinner and raffle.
Keep up the good fight James. All who want real change this year are right behind you!

Scott E. Richardson

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Scott Richardson on 02/24/2015 at 2:54 PM

Re: “Water Warrior: James Ehlers Is Lake Champlain's Loudest and Most Divisive Advocate

I would like to thank the Editor and Ms. Kathryn Flagg for such an excellent portrayal of James Ehlers's efforts and immense contributions to improving Lake Champlain Water Quality.
In 10 years I had been working in Vermont as Professor in Innovative Technologies for Phosphorus Pollution prevention and control and eutrophication mitigation and as VT small business owner since 2008, who had been repeatedly prevented from bringing improvements to the Lake water quality due to the State politics, James is one of the very few people that I met, determined to make a difference. James is definitely one of the most inspiring, committing and dedicated water advocates in Vermont and beyond. It had been a great pleasure meeting him and working with him.
Sincerely,
Aleksandra Drizo

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Aleksandra on 02/24/2015 at 12:55 PM

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