Thursday, January 29, 2009


Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) has made a request the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources for an "Environmental Leadership" designation. It is unclear how ANR deals with such requests, what the criteria are for such a designation, but we’ll find out when Vermonters for a Clean Environment and its allies meet next week with agency secretary, Jonathan Wood. Secretary Wood is new on the job and doesn't know VELCO's record.

VELCO's work in the last 5 years does not merit such an award.

If the State grants this designation to VELCO, it will demonstrate the emptiness of such a designation from the State of Vermont and complicity of State with corporations in Vermont's environmental degradation. (Examples of the troubling experience of the State with VELCO is indeed damning.)
It will reward unsustainable environmental practices, heavy-handed behavior by corporations bent on having their way, permit violations, disregard for the State's own stated policies of environmental protection, disregard for public participation in the permit process, and perpetuate the exploitative posture that is damaging Earth and her inhabitants.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Mere compliance with watered-down permit conditions does not constitute environmental leadership and does not merit an award. This is not about NIMBY; this is about caring for God's Creation and moving the State towards true stewardship of our natural resources.

Sylvia Wright, fellow parishioner at Burlington’s Cathedral Church of St Paul, a member of its Earth Care Ministry and a long-time environmental researcher/advocate has written me:
It is important and instructive for us in the faith community to understand how closely our state works with corporations to allow and even bless environmental damage and degradation. For this process, I ask for your prayers and indications of any support you can provide, such as letters to ANR, letters to the BFP, prayers, petitions, phone calls to me, phone calls to Secretary Jonathan Wood (241-3600: leave message with secretary). If you call, please relay the message that VELCO's environmental record does not merit the Environmental Leadership designation they are seeking.

The civil rights movement was a powerful community effort and movement to confront principalities and powers aligned to deny African-Americans their full humanity and their god-given civil rights. Dr. King spoke not only about civil rights but also about environmental degradation during his lifetime. As the larger faith community awakens to the need for a different model of living on Earth, we need to find ways to move beyond our different comfort levels and find ways to collectively advocate for Earth, God's Creation and our home, especially in the face of State and corporate complicity in environmental degradation. Such power structures have been supported by long-established public policy and attitudes treating Earth as a commodity for use and exploitation, but have gained the upper hand in Vermont during the last 20 years, and more egregiously in the last decade. Please join me in sending a strong message to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources that we expect them not only to enforce laws and permit conditions, but to actually teach environmental care and stewardship to those who work and do business in Vermont.
(See bottom line in bold above, or formulate your own wording when you contact ANR or write LTE’s.)

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