From Sheffield to Lowell to Georgia, wind turbines have been popping up on Vermont's picturesque ridgelines.
"Tearing up mountain ridge lines in order to put wind turbines up does nothing for carbon emissions -- it does nothing for climate change," said Steve Wright with the group Ridgeprotectors.
And with another three dozen turbines proposed in the Northeast Kingdom communities of Newark, Brighton and Ferdinand, wind power opponents say it is time for a three year moratorium on wind projects in Vermont.
"It is my hope the state legislature does not go with this wind moratorium," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), at a Monday press conference.
Typically Sanders is focused on national issues in Washington, but he is weighing in on this state issue in Montpelier. He said passing such a bill would make Vermont look bad as a leader against climate change. "The environmentally conscious state of Vermont -- they don't want to go faster on sustainable energy, they don't really believe global warming is quite the threat that everybody is saying. That would be a terrible message to send to people all over this country and over this world," he said.
"I'm saddened and surprised. Surprised because he normally doesn't inject himself into state issues," said Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) "I'm saddened because traditionally Senator Sanders has been for the little guy against the corporate interests of the world."
Senator Benning proposed a two year wind moratorium last session and it did not make it out of the Senate. The Governor strongly opposes a wind moratorium and such a bill could face a very difficult battle in the House.
"I am not a supporter of the wind moratorium and I don't think we should just single out one energy source from going forward," said Vt. House Speaker Rep. Shap Smith.
Many supporters of the wind moratorium say they support the fight against climate change but say building big wind projects in Vermont is not the answer. "The way to limit the emissions is to go where the emissions are. The emissions are not on the ridgelines, they are here, right around us and this is where we need to be working," Steve Wright said.
Last session Senator Benning said the idea was a last minute amendment. This year he says three out of the five members of the Senate Natural Resources committee are co-sponsors of the bill. He admits it will likely be a close vote in the Senate. As for the House and the Governor, Senator Benning said the bill is subject to discussion, and hasn't ruled out taking out the word moratorium. He said at least the bill will prompt a discussion on how large scale wind projects are dealt with in the permitting process.
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