Robert Bryce


Even some of the greenest of Green Mountain State residents don’t want their mountaintops covered with wind turbines.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

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Technology / Infrastructure

Even some of the greenest of Green Mountain State residents don’t want their mountaintops covered with wind turbines.

The backlash against Big Wind is taking place from Maine to California. But few states have seen more resistance to the landscape-destroying sprawl of wind energy than Vermont. Indeed, wind energy has emerged as one of the most prominent issues in Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary in the Green Mountain State.

The backlash against Big Wind in Vermont and elsewhere isn’t the story the American Wind Energy Association and its myriad minions in the left-wing media are pushing.

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At issue is the ability of towns in Vermont to limit or stop the development of wind- and solar-energy projects. The Democratic candidates have defined themselves by the degree to which they favor local control. That this showdown is happening in Bernie Sanders’s home state gives it extra symbolic importance. During his campaign, Sanders proposed an energy scheme that would rely almost entirely on wind and solar energy. But a close reading of his scheme shows that it would have required a whopping 20-fold increase in Vermont’s wind-generation capacity.

Another reason for the spotlight on the Vermont race is the role of Bill McKibben, one of America’s highest-profile climate activists. Last week, McKibben, a resident of Vermont and the founder of 350.org, switched his endorsement in the gubernatorial race from a candidate (Matt Dunne) who favors local control over renewable projects to one who doesn’t (Sue Minter). More on McKibben in a moment.

The state’s wind-energy developers, along with one of Vermont’s most influential lobby firms, KSE Partners, have lined up squarely behind Minter, a former state representative. According to Vermont news outlet Seven Days, wind-energy developers and their lobbyists are contributing heavily to a super PAC that purchased $120,000 worth of TV ads last week. Those ads focus on labeling Minter as the “progressive” in the race.

Opposing Minter for the nomination are former state senator Peter Galbraith and Dunne, a former state representative. Galbraith has told acquaintances that the main reason he is running for governor is to stop the wind-energy sector’s destruction of the state’s mountain and ridges. On his campaign website, Galbraith says, “Industrial Wind Turbines do not belong on Vermont’s ridgelines. Our mountains are the most pristine and ecologically sensitive places in Vermont. . . . Industrial wind turbines do not produce green energy.”

Dunne, who claims that he was the first candidate for governor to endorse Sanders for president, caused a ruckus when he changed his position on wind energy. On July 29, Dunne issued a statement in favor of local control: “Large-scale ridgeline wind projects should only take place with the approval of the towns where the projects are located. As governor, I will ensure that no means no.”

Two days after Dunne’s statement, McKibben announced he was switching his support...

Read the entire piece here on National Review Online


Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here.

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