Bernie Sanders, Vermont Senator, Opposes State Wind Power Moratorium

Source: By WILSON RING, Associated Press • Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday urged Vermont lawmakers not to impose a three-year moratorium on the construction of new wind power projects in the state because he believes it would hurt efforts across the country to combat global warming.

Sanders, an independent, was joined at a Burlington news conference by a number of environmentalists who support wind power. He said Vermonters should be proud the state is a national leader in environmental protection and that it has made strides in producing electricity from wind, geo-thermal and bio-mass.

“I have no doubt, but that if Vermont ceases new wind development the message will go out all across the country, spread by well-funded coal and oil companies, that even in Vermont, even in progressive Vermont, even in environmentally conscious Vermont, there is not a serious commitment to combating global warming,” Sanders said.

He acknowledged that many Vermont opponents of wind energy are committed to finding solutions to global warming and he insisted wind projects should have the support of residents where they would be built. Vermont has a robust process that allows ample local input into where wind projects are built, he said.

“It would be totally inappropriate for some wind energy company to come in and bulldoze their way to a project,” Sanders said. “There is a thoughtful process that must take place involving community input, to see what parts of the state wind energy could work. That’s a local issue, and I applaud and respect the processes we have in Vermont.”

Vermont has four industrial scale wind power projects, from near the Massachusetts line to the Northeast Kingdom. The three projects that went online in the last 18 months were opposed by neighbors and others who feared the turbines would hurt the environment more than they helped and permanently scar the state’s ridgelines.

It was that opposition that prompted the proposal by two state senators, Republican Joe Benning of Caledonia County and Democrat Bob Hartwell of Bennington County, to impose the three-year moratorium and change the regulatory process for wind projects. They say the state may be sacrificing too much of its mountain ridges in exchange for too little clean energy.