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Commentary: Welch’s Stance Against Corn Ethanol


hen a Washington-based lobbying outfit started airing television ads in Vermont that attack Rep. Peter Welch because he wants to scale back federal support for corn ethanol, the erstwhile Vermonter in me took offense. It has been a few years since I lived in Vermont, but I was born in Burlington, grew up in Essex Junction, and graduated from Essex High. I now live near Boston, but I’ll probably always consider myself a Vermonter and I think I still have a working sense of what Vermonters value. Related:

Welch responds to attack ad

Vermonters value follow-through, which partly explains Rep. Welch’s skepticism about the Renewable Fuel Standard, a federal law that effectively requires Americans to put billions of gallons of biofuel into our cars each year. The policy is sustained mainly by Iowa’s peculiar role in presidential politics and by the corn ethanol lobby, which has a history of big claims and poor follow-through. Continue Reading →

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Welch responds to attack ad

BARRE — Congressman Peter Welch responding is to a television ad attacking him for his stance on ethanol in gasoline. This weekend, local television stations in Vermont aired an ad from ethanol-advocacy group known as Fuels America, which attacks Welch for being signatory to a letter to Environmental Protection Agency questioning whether the percentage of ethanol in gasoline should be increased. The ad criticizes Welch for “circulating a plan written by oil industry lobbyists” and concludes by asking viewers to “remind Peter Welch to stand up for Vermont values, not oil companies and climate deniers.”

“I understand why they’re doing it,” Welch said of the ad. “The mandate is a moneymaker for the corn ethanol industry.”

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates an ever-increasing volume of ethanol to enter the nation’s motor vehicle fuel supply. At the time, the Energy Information Administration projected demand for gasoline would continue to rise through 2022. Continue Reading →

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Entergy rejects trust fund withdrawal objections


MONTPELIER — The state of Vermont is ramping up its fight with Entergy Nuclear over Vermont Yankee’s shrinking $600 million decommissioning trust fund. The attorney general’s office, along with the Department of Public Service, filed a petition last week with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asking for a federal “comprehensive review” into how Entergy is spending the fund, which was $675 million a year ago. Yankee shut down Dec. 29, 2014, and Entergy has made regular withdrawals since then. Entergy estimated a year ago it would cost $1.2 billion in 2014 dollars to decommissioning the reactor. Continue Reading →

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Commentary: Here comes the carbon tax


he Climate Change Warriors are ramping up for a full scale effort in Montpelier two months from now. Not content with the decade long carnival of subsidies, taxes, mandates and sweetheart deals to enrich the renewable energy complex, they’re now going for the brass ring – making you pay the Carbon Tax. The carbon tax campaign flies the flag of “Energy Independent Vermont”, a coalition of nine environmental lobby groups led by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG). Here’s the coalition’s argument. Our planet is threatened by the Al Gore-Obama-Sanders-Shumlin Heat Death, now called “climate change” (after “global warming” went on vacation the past 18 years). Here’s the coalition’s argument. Continue Reading →

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Republicans seek public input

MONTPELIER – The Vermont Republican Party is looking to the public to share their thoughts on how to make the state a more affordable place to live. On Wednesday, the state Republican Party launched a website called “Make Vermont Affordable,” which invites members of the public to share their stories of struggles to pay the bills, and to sign a petition in opposition of a proposed carbon tax. “This will be a forum for interaction on the issues that are being discussed in Montpelier that affect affordability and growth in Vermont,” said David Sunderland, chairman of the Vermont Republican Party. With an image of a road sign bearing the words “GAS TAX INCREASE AHEAD,” the website – which can be found online at – invites visitors to sign a petition to “stop the crushing tax on working Vermonters.”

For the past week, the state Republican Party has been rallying the troops to oppose a pair of draft bills expected to be introduced during the upcoming legislative session in January that would impose a carbon tax and could raise gasoline prices by as much as 88 cents a gallon. The bills include language stating nearly all of the revenue collected – 90 percent for one bill, and 80 percent for the other – would be used to offset other taxes, especially for poor Vermonters who would be hit hardest by the regressive tax. Continue Reading →

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Dubie emerges with wind concerns

Brian Dubie (VPR photo)

MONTPELIER — Former Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, who was a strong proponent of wind power during his government service, is now speaking out on behalf of residents who are concerned about the noise generated by turbines in Sheffield and at proposed sites in the future. Dubie, who served from 2003 to 2011 and lost a close gubernatorial election to Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2010, still supports wind power as an alternative energy source for Vermont. The commercial airline pilot said he’s not looking to re-enter Vermont’s political scene. But he is choosing to speak out now on behalf of his neighbors in Franklin County that could soon be impacted by turbine noise. Additionally, there is a proposed wind project in Swanton — just under a mile from Dubie’s home — that would generate up to 20 megawatts of power from as many as seven wind turbines that are 500 feet tall. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin: Reject proposed large-scale solar projects

Gov. Peter Shumlin records the Capitol Beat podcast in his office. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — A group of large-scale solar projects proposed in Vermont should be rejected because they are simply too big for the state and for the communities that would host them, according to Gov. Peter Shumlin. Shumlin has been a forceful proponent of renewable energy, and solar energy in particular, during his three terms in office. He touts his administration’s renewable energy record by boasting of boosting by tenfold the number of solar panels in Vermont since he took office in January 2011. And there are now about 16,000 jobs in the state associated with the renewable energy sector. But a recent proposal by Ranger Solar LLC to construct 20 megawatt solar arrays in Ludlow, Pittsford, Highgate, Randolph Center, Irasburg and Sheldon is going too far, he said. Continue Reading →

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Senate supports climate-change resolution

MONTPELIER — Senate lawmakers have given preliminary approval to a resolution that acknowledges both climate change and impact caused by fossil fuel use. By a vote of 23 to 5, Senate lawmakers Tuesday approved a resolution that “recognizes that climate change is a real and present danger to health and well-being of all Vermonters,” and “that human activities make a substantive contribution to climate change.”

The resolution was introduced by Sen. Brian Campion, D-Bennington, who serves on the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. The Committee approved the resolution by a vote of 4-0-1. “It recognizes that the warming in the climate system is unequivocal and the human influence on the climate system is clear and substantive,” Campion said. “It acknowledges the state of Vermont recognizes climate change is a real and present danger to the health and well-being of all Vermonters.”

Vermont has a goal of reducing its carbon foot print by 50 percent — compared with 1990 levels — by the year 2028, and reduce carbon output by 75 percent by 2050. Continue Reading →

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