Truth the First Casualty | Freyne Land

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Truth the First Casualty

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2007 at 10:09 PM

Last week, it was the "IMPEACH BUSH" crowd that filled the Statehouse. Thursday afternoon this well-organized bunch of regular Joes popped in to lobby their legislators, they told me, to "vote no on H. 520."

Which one's H. 520?  That not the Global Warming Bill that just came out of the Senate, is it?

"It's the tax on fuel oil and propane," they told me. In fact, these guys, about two-dozen,  were mostly  guys who bring it - fuel oil and propane - to your house. Hired-gun Lobbyist Shawn Banfield of William Shouldice Associates was having them fill out slips of paper to have delivered to their individual representative, urging them to "Vote no on H. 520."

One little problem: H. 520 does not include a tax on fuel oil and propane.

That was in the original version, but removed three months ago. It never made it out of committee. What Sen. Peter Shumlin finally replaced it with as a funding source was a 5-year $35 million surcharge to be imposed on the unanticipated whopping profits the Louisiana-based Entergy Corporation, owner of Vermont Yankee Nuclear in Vernon, all 650-megawatts, has been reaping of late.

That money will be used to bankroll a new energy efficiency utility to be designed by the PSB, that will do what has to be done - cut fossil fuel use. Time is running out. It's called global warming, and even in the best-case scenario, things are going to get worse before they show any inkling of improvement.

Gov. Jim Douglas, however, has shot to Entergy's defense, portraying it as a bad message to the business community.  Entergy could not have a better spokesman.

Coincidentally, while a certain segment of the Vermont business sector was shamelessly doing a brazen job of distorting the truth under Montpeculiar's golden dome, Dr. James Hansen (left), the star witness for Vermont in the big "Tale of the Tailpipe Trial" at federal court in Burlington, was on the stand. Hansen, 66, a physicist, is director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The major auto companies are suing Vermont to prevent our little Green Mountain State from enforcing California's auto emissions standards. They say they can't do it, it'll cost too much.

In December of 2005, Hansen forecast we have 10 years to turn this global warming thing around. Ten years to halt the the out-of-control increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Press: Are we going to make it?

HANSEN: Well, that depends. I hope the decision is such that it does force vehicle makers to go down a path of improved efficiency and in that case I think we still have a chance, but time is getting short.

PRESS: What will it take to impress on people just how short? That’s a tough thing to do.

HANSEN: Yeah. And this problem is different than the air pollution problem where you see the effects immediately both of the pollution and when you reduce it. But here the system has inertia and we’ve only obtained about half of the eventual response for the gases we’ve already put in the atmosphere. There’s more in the pipeline. It’s going to occur even if we stabilize atmospheric composition. So this problem is more difficult for people to understand. They don’t see much so far.

PRESS: What’s It going to take?

HANSEN: Ah, well,

PRESS: What’s it going to take? Something horrible, right?

HANSEN: Well, it’s going to take politicians who are willing to address long term problems not only the four-year problems.

Yes, indeed. Politicians with backbone.

And a lot of them.

Real soon.


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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

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