This Means War? Progressive Mayor Works With Defense Contractor to Combat Climate Change | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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This Means War? Progressive Mayor Works With Defense Contractor to Combat Climate Change 

Published December 18, 2010 at 1:11 p.m.

* Updated *

Burlington used to have a reputation as a hotbed of anti-war activism. Protesters regulary chained themselves to the fences outside the weapons design shop on Lakeside Avenue — home to General Electric, Martin Marietta, Lockheed Martin and most recently General Dynamics.

This building was such a focal point of protest that it even inspired a song, penned by one of the Queen City's storied punk rocks bands, The Wards. It's called, aptly, "Weapons Factory." Check out the video someone put together.

General Dynamics announced last year that it is leaving the Queen City for an abandoned IBM building in Williston. Fret not activists, you can still fight efforts to bring the F-35 joint strike fighter to the Vermont National Guard in South Burlington at the Burlington International Airport.

On Monday, Mayor Bob Kiss — a Progressive no less — will sign a letter of intent outlining an agreement to work with defense contractor Lockheed Martin to combat global climate change. The cooperation is part of the city's participation in the "Carbon War Room." Lockheed Martin is expected to use Burlington as a test city to deploy some of the green technology and strategies it's developing.

Maybe we can expect to see predator drones roaming through the Queen City to check if we've replaced our bulbs with CFLs or have put out our recycling? Recycling enforced by martial law?

Wait. Is this the same Lockheed Martin that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — dubbed "the Progfather" for inspiring the formation of the Progressive Party — railed against last year for being corrupt and ripping off taxpayers? Obviously, Mayor Kiss didn't check in with Sanders before inking this agreement.

Wonder if any activists will chain themselves to Kiss' desk in protest?

Burlington’s connection to Lockheed Martin began with the city's selection as one of the first 15 cities globally to participate in the “Carbon War Room,” a non-profit organization founded by Sir Richard Branson. The group's mission is to leverage "the power of entrepreneurs to implement market-driven solutions to climate change."

Discussions between Burlington and Lockheed Martin staff at the Carbon War Room “Green Capital Global Challenge” in Vancouver, Canada in February set the stage for several meetings this year to discuss ways the pair could work together to address global climate change.

Lockheed Martin was recognized at the Clinton Global Initiative in September for its commitment to work at the local level to develop green energy initiatives and sustainable environmental practices as a way to address global climate change.

From protesting defense contractors to doing business with them: What a long strange trip it's been, Progressives.

* Update *

This morning, Mayor Kiss and Lockheed Martin's Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Ray O Johnson signed a letter of agreement to jointly combat climate change.

The letter lists a variety of areas in which Burlington and Lockheed Martin may be able to work together, including: sustainability analysis; climate adaptation analysis; energy and transportation technologies; solar photovoltaic systems; telematics and electric car technologies; property-assessed clean energy (PACE); and three-dimensional light detection and ranging (LIDAR) city model.

Hmm, no phone, TV and Internet services?

“As a global security company, Lockheed Martin recognizes the economic and strategic challenges posed by our dependence on foreign oil and the potential destabilizing effects of climate change; sustainability is critical to our national security,” said Dr. Johnson. “We are proud to partner with the City of Burlington to demonstrate a model for sustainability that can be replicated across the nation.”

Kiss, too, said the work done in Burlington could perhaps be used as a model elsewhere.

“We’re pleased to be able to formally initiate this relationship with Lockheed Martin to work together on the paramount issue of global climate change,” said Kiss. “This relationship results from Burlington’s participation in the Carbon War Room and our well-established commitment to environmental sustainability. Not only can we make a difference in Burlington, but potentially elsewhere around the world.”

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About The Author

Shay Totten

Shay Totten

Shay Totten wrote "Fair Game," a weekly political column, from April 2008-December 2011.

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