Alison Despathy: The disconnect in the Statehouse

This commentary is by Alison Despathy, of Danville. She has a clinical nutrition practice in St. Johnsbury.

The people are speaking, and the question is will the legislators listen, respect and represent.

Recently in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, the testimony has been overwhelmingly in favor of halting the movement of the Affordable Heat Act (S.5). Despite all of the evidence and pleas, the committee still seems determined to force it through. The tunnel vision and ideological walls that exist around this bill are hard to break through. The people are desperately trying to shed light on the danger of this bill. There are many reasons why S.5 is destructive, and this has been clearly presented and mapped out for the senators.

Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment presented testimony. Smith discussed in great detail the illogical history and path of this legislation and the harms it will bring. In particular, she pointed out that the policy itself is inequitable because its creation did not include or take into account the needs of the rural areas of Vermont. In many areas of Vermont, there is an inadequate electrical infrastructure to support these often inefficient technologies. The plan disproportionately emphasizes options for the more heavily populated areas of the state. This inherent inequity will not provide solutions for many rural Vermonters yet the burden will land on them.

TJ Poor and Melissa Bailey from the Department of Public Service also presented. They focused on the fact that the policy design lacked details and structure and would be impossible for them to understand and implement. They ardently almost desperately called for more time and clarity in assessing this bill.

Julie Moore, secretary of Agency of Natural Resources laid out the projected costs of the program and burdens to the people — billions of dollars and steep increases in heating costs for Vermonters — to the degree that it will undoubtedly lead to business closures and struggle for families.

Local fuel dealers presented testimony to the committee on Friday, Feb. 3. These guys are absolute heroes — amazing, hard-working Vermonters providing heat, support and jobs to our families and communities for generations. Their stories, wisdom, and dedication to keeping Vermonters warm is admirable and appreciated. With weather like this we can all understand the importance and necessity of the services they provide. These small local Vermont dealers are our experts; they know how to ensure that Vermonters stay warm in the most economical, efficient and environmentally sound way as possible. Hopefully their requests to not pass S.5 will be honestly considered based on all of the real world useful information they provided.

Moving forward and after hearing from the real experts in the thermal sector, hopefully there will be a level of engagement and dialogue allowed to unfold in order to reach real solutions for Vermont. Because of the emotions and pressure around S.5 as the only solution and answer, it is urgent this ideology and fear do not drive detrimental and ineffective outcomes.

This mentality of “we need to do something” even if that something is impulsive, damaging and dysfunctional is where the problem lies. It seems the thought process is “anything is better than nothing,” even if that means that the people, small businesses and economy must be sacrificed in order to achieve ideological goals of “environmental justice.” This is a complete disservice to Vermont.

Alternative solutions have been offered. These include assessing recent and current action in the realms of weatherization and electric technology installs in the thermal sector. A detailed review of the natural trajectory of transition which is heavily in play in this sector should be evaluated and considered. Using the money that is wrapped up in bureaucracy, data collection and studies is another logical path — get the money to Vermonters to use appropriately. The programs are already in place to implement this change.

Rep. Mark Higley has offered the best immediate solution in his sponsored Bill H.74. This bill proposes to “change the state’s greenhouse gas reduction requirements to goals and repeal the Vermont Climate council.” This would immediately take the intense pressure off the legislators and allow for a real conversation and the development of a constructive, collaborative game plan. This would also prevent Vermont from being sued, a situation essentially warned by Chase Whiting of Conservation Law Foundation in his testimony.

This entire S.5 situation reflects the broader and deeply entrenched issue in the Vermont Statehouse at this time — ideology in the form of bogus environmental and social justice agendas.

Hannah Arendt, author of The Origins of Totalitarianism, describes a totalitarian state as a society under the control of an ideology which eradicates existing traditions, values and institutions. In essence, totalitarianism is political authoritarianism combined with an ideology that seeks to control all aspects of life.

The severe ideological drive in the Statehouse does not serve the people — it is exploitative of the people. This ideology masquerades as environmental and social justice, which in their true form have value and demand attention, but politicized and corporate versions of these have taken root, captured minds, and as a result heavily influence legislation and threaten the people of Vermont. People and practices are sacrificed in an attempt to create space for the ideology to flourish as those who have fallen prey demand.

Unfortunately the Affordable Heat Act is one of many bills coming down the pike driven by ideology that does not respect, protect or serve the people. With a supermajority very often voting party line and playing the group think game, the life and future of Vermonters is at risk. The unethical and immoral aspects of S.5 are blatantly evident and profound; if it passes we can be certain that ideology rules in the Vermont Statehouse.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Jared C. Benedict

7 thoughts on “Alison Despathy: The disconnect in the Statehouse

  1. Thanks for the letter Alison. Somewhere inside the Statehouse there are thousands of demon slaves laboring to build a Tower of Babel as a testimony to their own glory. You can feel them if you listen real carefully. But you cannot see them as they float by because they are disguised as dollars in a lobbyist’s briefcase…
    Sen. Bray: Do you know why you shouldn’t try to teach a pig to whistle???
    It’s a waste of time and it ANNOYS THE PIG!

  2. The idea behind the affects against rural Vermonters is similar to what Mao did in China; forcing urbanites into cities; to better manage and control. Vermont is a beta-test for communism in the US.

  3. Creating this mass fear of Climate Change (even though it changes because of Mother Nature) how Liberals gain & keep power. Fear has worked forever to gain power. With power comes money and control…just like the VT legislature has. THEY create the fear of climate change to gain their power…and VT voters dumb-ly fall for it. Read again what Machiavelli wrote hundreds of years ago, and just input the fear as “trump” and “Climate Change”.

    ““Machiavelli’s historical observation that “whoever controls the people’s fears becomes master of their souls.” The formula for achieving such mastery has not changed in millennia: stoke any fear (climate change & Republicans), turn the fear to hate (trump, republicans) of whomever and whatever you accuse of standing in the way of your safety, and make yourself (dems) the agent of that hate….The formula works when its dynamic embeds itself in the masses’ behavior (VT voters)—even when the master himself (democrats) is the one to be feared. That is because stampeding humans readily give up their souls and become no more mindful of their own interest than steers. Hence, whoever manages to madden crowds (democrats) while directing their hysteria onto his enemies (republicans) stands to reap power.”

    • Jeffery: very well put, you hit the nail on the head. As I read your comment I compared it to the behavior of the sheeple during the plandemic.

  4. As all know, it’s been said so many times that Vermont’s impact on the environment is immersible. Nevertheless, the legislature continues its best Thelma and Louise imitation as they drive the Vermont economy off the cliff. Their blind stupidity is beyond belief.

    • They get away with acting like this because they know there is no accountability.

      Oh sure, they may eventually be voted out of office for their stupidity, but they still get the benefits as well as the revolving door jobs in the private sector.

      They are actually just Vampires, sucking the lifeblood out of their gullible, uneducated constituents and the State.

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