Opinion | Letters

February 04,2016

The Rutland Herald front page article entitled “State investigates environmental advocate” about Annette Smith, head of the nonprofit Vermonters for a Clean Environment, clearly shows that Vermont’s attorney general is more concerned about protecting the renewable energy developers and their attorneys than in protecting the people of Vermont.

Annette works on behalf of people who have legitimate concerns about the negative impacts of renewable energy projects, such as loss of natural resources and noise. Much as the “military industrial complex” became a national entity in the 1950s, Vermont has created a “renewable industrial complex” whose goal is to install renewable energy projects recklessly throughout our state, as fast as possible.

Vermont’s renewable industrial complex seeks to save the world from climate change by building these projects without proper planning, stakeholder input and due process. It’s like a huge powerful machine, treading across Vermont, replacing field and forest with a patchwork quilt of solar panels, much like the massive cranes lumbering up newly created gravel roads winding up mountains to install wind turbines. Annette Smith’s statement is correct: “It’s harassment to chill my work so developers can get permits faster and to chill the public.” 

I’d ask the attorney general these questions: Who filed the complaint against Smith? Who is being harmed? The renewable project attorneys earning massive fees? Renewable project developers who get fast approval? If Smith unknowingly acted as a lawyer, should the system be changed so that non-lawyers can participate as she did? Why can’t someone who can’t afford a lawyer ask legitimate questions about a wind project? Should the attorney general spend resources investigating Smith, or investigating ways to improve the PSB process for evaluating renewable projects? Or investigating why the Public Service Department favors GMP and the renewable industrial complex?