By Don Keelan
I was surprised that the Bennington Selectboard would authorize an energy committee, made up of volunteers, and to report its findings to the board.
Such committees are sprouting up all over Vermont — five in Bennington County. On the surface, the stated purpose for creating such a committee is commendable: suggest ways to save energy, assist with reducing the communities’ greenhouse gas emissions and foster ways to utilize renewable energy resources. But what is the hidden agenda of the energy committee?
The cynical side of me believes it will be a lot more than what it is generally understood to be. And by “a lot more” I mean control over the lives of residents and businesses in Bennington.
The Bennington Banner reporter Jim Therrien noted several goals of the energy committee in his April 25 piece on the creation of the committee: “Develop a network of like-minded individuals and groups within the community.” Why not have members who are not like-minded in order to come up with more impartial conclusions and recommendations?
Therrien further notes the objective to “maintain contact with supportive lawmakers.” It appears that before the energy committee is even formed its conclusions have been reached. If you are in any way a consumer of fossil fuels for your home, car or business, you are in for a rude awakening.
Initially, there might be suggestions, but in short-order mandated rules and regulations will be promulgated. Why? Because so many towns will have subjugated their authority to energy committees or non-government organizations that have close tie-ins to national NGOs. If you have any doubt of this, check and see who is behind H.439, S.171, and the so-called Essex Plan.
Furthermore, look at how over the last 10 years the cannabis movement morphed from a possible medical supplement to a full-blown retail business. The state’s medical and police experts were out-lobbied — they could not convince the legislators of the negative impact recreational sales will have.
The groups that make up the so-called “climate action” are following the same game plan that was used in the adoption of marijuana legislation — start out in small towns and states and then go nationally. What a success story it has been, and in such a short time.
The world has a serious climate issue that cities need to contend with. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Beijing or Mumbai. Is it up to Vermont to be the poster child? And if so, at what cost to our freedom?
It would seem to me that any prudent Vermonter would gladly weatherize one’s home to save energy and be warmer. They would also like to spend less money filling up their truck or automobile gas tank, and of course turn off the lights. And where reasonable rules are in place, they are willing to meet the objectives to reduce the carbon impact.
What they won’t accept is to have a committee made up of non-elected members dictate to them the requirements to pay huge taxes on the use of fossil fuels or mandate how they heat their home or the type of vehicle they use.
In the 31 years I have been a full-time resident of Vermont, I have seen the continual diminishing of local control. Montpelier has taken over our education system with an all-powerful State Board of Education. The same is true when it comes to the delivering of health care. The Green Mountain Care Board mandates reach every corner of the state when it comes to medical spending and allocation of resources.
And as town after town adopts energy committees, it won’t be long before Montpelier puts forth its energy mandates. The Bennington Selectboard has delegated its authority and has let in the 21st century version of the Trojan horse.
Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.