Senator Bernie Sanders has proven once again that his railing against big business interest and cronyism is highly selective by jumping in bed with industrial wind company interest in supporting further development of Vermont’s ridgeline.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., just jumped into the middle of one of the Vermont Legislature’s hottest debates.
On Monday, Sanders vehemently opposed a three-year moratorium on wind generation projects more than 500 kilowatts in capacity. The Senate proposal has bipartisan support and was ushered in by loud and frequent protests to Vermont’s ridgeline wind development this past year.
Sanders told reporters at a press conference that he was sticking his neck out on this issue because he is concerned about the national implications of a short-term ban in Vermont. He plans to introduce national legislation next month that would tax carbon dioxide emissions, and he said that Vermont must continue to lead the country in measures to curb climate change — including the expansion of Vermont wind generation.
“I am deeply concerned that currently there is an effort in the Legislature to put a moratorium on the construction of new wind projects,” Sanders said. “I strongly disagree with that effort; not only in what it will mean for our state in terms of transforming our energy system, but what it will mean nationally.”
It was not at all surprising to see who his allies were in this:
On Thursday, in his Church Street office, Sanders sat flanked by leading advocates of utility-scale wind development in Vermont. Sitting at the table with Sanders were: Paul Burns, director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group; Chris Kilian, Vermont director of the Conservation Law Foundation; Gabrielle Stebbins, director of the trade association Renewable Energy Vermont; and Don Hooper, northeast regional representative for the National Wildlife Federation.
VPIRG and friends have been carrying the water for industrial wind interests in Vermont for a while now and make up the lobbying arm of what Ethan Allen Institute Founder John McClaughry has referred to as “The Renewable Industrial Complex.” Fortunately, at least some of our political leaders are catching onto this scam:
Republican Sen. Joe Benning, who was a principal architect of the moratorium bill, panned Sanders just after his announcement.
“Bernie Sanders rose to power fighting for the little guy against big-moneyed corporate interests,” Benning said. “Now he ignores the cries of Vermonters caught in the crosshairs of huge corporations, whose powerful lobbyists and high-priced lawyers use a frustrating maze of regulatory bureaucracy to threaten their cherished mountain homes … How sad.”