Flemming: Sacrificing the sick to Vermont’s green energy

By David Flemming

Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, gave some harsh testimony to the Science and Data Subcommittee of the Vermont Climate Council Meeting on July 21. The subcommittee was discussing how to calculate “economic analysis of the costs and benefits the costs of climate action” including the health impacts of various policies. The health costs of climate action are frequently brushed under the rug, as the health benefits are talked up.

Smith says:

A lot of my work involves environmental issues on people’s health, and its often discounted. I will use one energy example, and that’s the health effects of industrial wind turbines. The industry adamantly refuses to acknowledge their impacts while in Vermont, we’ve had people abandon their homes, get very sick, from the health effects. So how does that get included?… Vermonters for a Clean Environment is the reason there’s an opt-out on smart meters. Because some people can’t live with them. They make them sick. There is not a generally recognized acknowledgement from the traditional health regulators. So that’s another of aspect of the idea of more ‘smart appliances.’ Does that sort of effect get included in an accounting like this?

… I’m really disappointed. I just learned that the Just Transitions group held their stakeholder meeting and I fully expected to be included and I wasn’t. Leaving me with the only opportunity to bring my real world, on the ground perspective to bring this whole issue to the legislature after you issued your report.

… So much of my work involves impacts to minorities, and I don’t mean necessarily the BIPOC populations. I mean people who are in the minority compared to everything else. And so, what we are doing in Vermont is a policy of sacrificing people. And those are my people, and I have had to tell more people ‘I think you just have to move.’ And I don’t want to keep doing that. I run up against housing problems all the time, because don’t have the resources to move away from things that are causing them harm.

So there you have it. The people supposed to be considering all perspectives in transitioning to a ‘just climate economy’ are shoving aside the voices who are being hurt the most from Vermont’s insistence that green energy must work for everyone.

Since Vermont cannot impact climate trends by itself, it is foolhardy to expect that Vermonters will be happy to sacrifice our health for some future promise that the climate will improve their health, if only hundreds of other world leaders will follow Vermont’s lead in emissions reductions. It’s no wonder that Vermonters with poor health are considering moving elsewhere.

To watch Smith’s testimony, click here.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Public domain
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6 thoughts on “Flemming: Sacrificing the sick to Vermont’s green energy

  1. I’d like to see the verified medical-health issues linked to wind turbines. — Now I’m against wind turbines except as a supplement to baseload generation, but I’ve never seen verified proof of the health issues linked to them. — that is needed for this to be credible.

  2. Annette Smith is a brilliant thinker, analyst, doer and some say fearless of the powerful when it comes to honestly putting forth the pluses, minuses, dangers and realities of industrial renewable energy, especially industrial wind.

    Her work over the past many years has earned her a “target on her back” from the powerful in the renewable energy industry and in Montpelier.

    Based on her recent experience with the Just Transitions Group it looks like the powerful in Montpelier have not forgotten her……..Or simply don’t want to hear what she has to say about the negatives of industustrial wind and solar development as it doesn’t fit the Global Warming Solutions Act orthodoxy.

    Here’s how the renewable industry powerful tried to place a “target on Ms. Smith’s back” and thus silence and make her go away:

    Back in 2016, David Blittersdorf, perhaps the largest industrial wind and solar developer in the Vermont, was represented by House Speaker Shap Smith’s law firm. Over the previous six years, numerous bills relating to the regulation of industrial wind and solar failed or were significantly watered down in the House under Smith’s leadership, while bills providing benefits to the renewable energy industry sailed through. Actions of this nature had been of substantial benefit to Blittersdorf and others in the renewable energy industry.

    Over the years Smith had assisted families and communities adversely impacted by essentially unregulated industrial wind and solar development. She especially assisted members of marginalized group of all colors who had little to no resources to defend themselves.This had irked Blittersdorf as it involved some of his projects and he made his ire toward Ms. Smith publicly known.

    As a result of Smith’s work, Blittersdorf ‘s attorney Ritchie Berger, a lawyer in Shap Smith’s law firm made allegations against her to the Attorney General that she was improperly practicing law. The allegations were quickly thrown out by the AG. Many believe these allegations were intended to halt Smith’s efforts to assist others in dealing with large wind and solar projects.

    The renewable energy industry was clumsily wrong in attempting to silence Smith in 2016 and the Climate Council would be equally wrong in not listening to her today…….She brings more honest expertise to the matters at hand than anyone sitting on the Climate Council. If the Climate Council is truly interested in producing a constructive product, they will listen to Annette Smith.

    • Peter,

      Thanks for the backstory on Annette Smith. She definitely has a voice and perspective that should be included, even if it makes the powers that be uncomfortable.

      Around 15 years ago, Annette was extremely helpful in nixing a proposal by ANR to use waste products from the Omya corporation as part of the cap on the copper mine tailings in Strafford. While the waste might have been useful in counteracting the acid mine runoff, it turns out the Omya waste they wanted to use was also tainted by a potential carconigen used in processing. Smith knowledge about the implications of this product the State was willing to overlook made a difference not only here but also eventually led to a change in what was used in the Omya processing method.

    • Federal politicians and bureaucrats aren’t the only swamp dwellers.
      One would be very naive to consider Vermont immune from the same disease that infects the federal government.

  3. This is a global phenomenon wrapped up in the ‘model’ being used – a MODEL that is limited by what AI can perceive and what the programmers and engineers can imagine (both notably NOT imaginative by nature), and thus, flawed in their scope and inclusion of REALITY and LIFE in all its mutating and evolving forms. Using MODELS to design policy if flawed at its root.
    Clearly, if the cost benefit creates more harm to HUMANITY and LIFE, its a flawed model.
    By law, health cannot be considered when siting wind and telecomm infrastructure. Only the convenience and cost to the developer is prioritized. Our permitting system predicates that by intention – biased toward fascist outcomes over human centered and life centered outcomes.
    Vermont is on the precipice of destroying exactly what makes it precious – our ability to sustain life within out borders in a healthy way.
    We COULD become a LIVING MODEL of what healthy living actually looks like – right choices, accountability, do no harm, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, personal choice, informed consent, banning pesticides and toxins – we’re small enough that modeling this by LIVING it could become a sort of eco-tourism model for the planet.
    But our legislators and leaders and corporate fascists have tied our hands with over regulation, permitting, and micro management that has and is literally squeezing LIFE out of living Vermonters. People are actually dying from the poisons and policies now introduced and enacted around Vermont.
    Our legislators and leaders are showing us the way to cliff – stopping short themselves of course – but there… you go over the cliff there…I’ll show you where. Sitting pretty in their mcmansion smart homes that kills living things (including themselves) in contact with it, no worries mate. Just do what I tell you is good for you. I know best. You’re just an ignorant hick.
    Agenda 2030 is sustainable for fascists but not for real living systems and human beings.
    Annette was polite and not as pointed as she could have been.
    Vermonters ARE dying from our policies in environment and health as I write this.
    How is THAT good for us? SOME people are okay dead?
    Does no one see the irony, or the obfuscation here?
    Corruption and fascism are at the heart of these policies – join the commun(ist) or you will die by shunning – alive and well in Chinarmont.

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