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Senate leader wants to focus on climate

Shumlin, the new president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate and a lifelong resident of Windham County, says one thing Vermont can do to fight global warming is to generate more of its own electricity — and clean energy. Windham County has long hosted the state's largest power generator — Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, he noted. Vermont Yankee, which is owned by the Louisiana power conglomerate Entergy, has provided about one-third of all the electricity consumed in the state. But Shumlin says it's time that Vermont started generating more electricity from wind power, the debate about aesthetics aside. Southern Vermont has hosted the state's only operating wind facility, he noted, in Searsburg in neighboring Bennington County. While the scale of the current generation of wind facilities is substantially bigger than the 198-foot tall Searsburg towers, aesthetics will have to take a back seat, he said. "I think it's a moral imperative to use them," he said of the wind turbines.

PUTNEY — Sen.-elect Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, has a favorite story about global warming.

Two weeks ago, on the last day of deer season, Shumlin says he bagged his buck — wearing a T-shirt.

He also wore a T-shirt on the first day of rifle season, he said, thanks to the record-breaking November temperatures, which saw temperatures in the 70s.

When he first started hunting when he was 10 years old — 40 years ago — the biggest thing he had to worry about was not finding a deer but keeping his toes from freezing.

Shumlin, the new president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate and a lifelong resident of Windham County, says one thing Vermont can do to fight global warming is to generate more of its own electricity — and clean energy.

Windham County has long hosted the state's largest power generator — Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, he noted. Vermont Yankee, which is owned by the Louisiana power conglomerate Entergy, has provided about one-third of all the electricity consumed in the state.

But Shumlin says it's time that Vermont started generating more electricity from wind power, the debate about aesthetics aside. Southern Vermont has hosted the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

PUTNEY — Sen.-elect Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, has a favorite story about global warming.

Two weeks ago, on the last day of deer season, Shumlin says he bagged his buck — wearing a T-shirt.

He also wore a T-shirt on the first day of rifle season, he said, thanks to the record-breaking November temperatures, which saw temperatures in the 70s.

When he first started hunting when he was 10 years old — 40 years ago — the biggest thing he had to worry about was not finding a deer but keeping his toes from freezing.

Shumlin, the new president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate and a lifelong resident of Windham County, says one thing Vermont can do to fight global warming is to generate more of its own electricity — and clean energy.

Windham County has long hosted the state's largest power generator — Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, he noted. Vermont Yankee, which is owned by the Louisiana power conglomerate Entergy, has provided about one-third of all the electricity consumed in the state.

But Shumlin says it's time that Vermont started generating more electricity from wind power, the debate about aesthetics aside. Southern Vermont has hosted the state's only operating wind facility, he noted, in Searsburg in neighboring Bennington County.

While the scale of the current generation of wind facilities is substantially bigger than the 198-foot tall Searsburg towers, aesthetics will have to take a back seat, he said.

"I think it's a moral imperative to use them," he said of the wind turbines.

"In the least hospitable climate for high-level nuclear waste — the banks of the Connecticut River — we are storing waste and there's no end in sight for the foreseeable future. So I know about sacrifice for energy," Shumlin said.

"We've got to get on with it. What's worse? Looking at some wind towers, or to have Vermont's average temperature go up 30 degrees?" Shumlin said.

"We haven't really faced the depth of the soup we're in as a society, and as we face the depth of this dilemma people will be less likely to argue whether windmills are beautiful or not," he said.

It would be a mistake to focus just on wind, he said, saying he would push for more efficient hydro and solar, biomass, and biodiesel automobiles.

Shumlin said one way of addressing the concerns about wind tower aesthetics is to create a decommissioning fund for every tower, so that it can be taken down and replaced with a more environmentally friendly model as research and development into wind energy progresses.

He called the 300-foot towers "a temporary blight" that can easily be removed once technology catches up.

And waiting for action from Washington for the next two years will be largely futile, he said, as long as President Bush is in the White House.

"What keeps going on in my brain is if we don't take some drastic measures, Vermont as we know it isn't going to be livable," Shumlin said, dismissing criticism that a small state can do nothing against a worldwide environmental and economic problem.

"This isn't a 'Jimmy Carter, turn the lights off' discussion," he said, referring to the president during the energy crisis of the late 1970s.

Vermont's economy is dependent on the maple tree, which is intolerant of heat, and the ski industry of course is dependent on snow and cold temperatures to make snow, he said.

He said that Sen. Virginia Lyons, D-Chittenden, chairwoman of Senate Natural Resources Committee, and Sen. Richard Mazza, D-Grand Isle/Chittenden, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, have both agreed to the unusual approach. He said the chair of the third pertinent committee, Economic Development, hasn't been decided yet.

Shumlin, who was elected leader of the Senate Democrats last month shortly after the November elections and is the de facto Senate president, said he wants three key committee chairmen to focus their energies the first two weeks of the session on taking testimony on global warming and climate change.

He said the first two weeks of the session are often lost time and he's asking legislators to wait until then before they start writing or introducing legislation dealing with what he has said is his number one priority in the 2007 session.

Other legislators are listing property taxes, health care and saving Vermont farms, as their top priorities, he said.

"There's no doubt in my mind that climate change is the biggest crisis," Shumlin said.

Contact Susan Smallheer at susan.smallheer@rutlandherald.com.


Source: http://www.rutlandherald.co...

DEC 11 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/6249-senate-leader-wants-to-focus-on-climate
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