Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is standing by his decision to speak out against a proposed moratorium on ridgeline wind development.
Sanders believes that immediate and drastic action is needed to combat global climate change.
"We have got to move as rapidly as we can to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel," Sanders emphasized, "into energy efficiency and into sustainable energies, including wind, solar, geothermal, biomass. But not excluding wind!" He’s planning to introduce a bill in Congress this spring that he says will be the most sweeping legislation to date to address the issue.
Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Sanders doubled down on his opposition to the moratorium under consideration at the Statehouse. He said that while it wasn’t his place to get involved in state issues like permitting or siting, a decision to ban new projects would have such far reaching implications, he had to speak out.
"Absolutely!" he said. "Vermont is not isolated from the planet."
Despite the fact that Vermont ranks near the bottom in terms of greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the country, Sanders believes it would send the wrong message to declare a moratorium.
"If we’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re just a small state. We don’t contribute so much in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, we don’t have to pay attention to that,’ I think that is going to send a very bad signal to New York, to New Hampshire, to the rest of the country. Why should we do it?"
Noreen Hession, of Newark, believes we should do it to protect Vermont’s natural resources.
"I know-we know-global warming is upon us and it’s the issue of our lives," Hession said to Senator Sanders on the call-in program. "But we don’t believe that it’s necessary to destroy our ridgelines in order to save our ridgelines!"
Hession’s is concerned about blasting mountaintop ridgelines to put in wind turbines. She’s concerned about what might be minimal generation. And she believes it’s money, not environmentalism, driving developments.
"People in the Kingdom are feeling abandoned by Senator Sanders," she says. "Because usually he’s the person who protects the little guys and in this particular instance it’s tiny little towns in the Northeast Kingdom, the poorest part of Vermont, who are fighting multinational corporations and fighting investors who’ll get rich destroying our ridgelines."
But Sanders says Vermont has to consider the wider implications of its laws.
"If Vermont were to pass that moratorium, these guys who have endless amounts of money, fossil fuel industry, would be advertising to say, ‘Even in the state of Vermont – and you thought Vermont was an environmentally conscious state – even they want to go slow on renewable energy.’"
The moratorium has yet to be debated by the Legislature and its fate is uncertain.