A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.
Dear Governor Shumlin,
We are leaders in Vermont—business owners, nonprofit executives, faith leaders, agriculture stewards, academics, and community representatives—who have followed the saga of the Addison Natural Gas Project (ANGP) over the last few years. For the health and economy of our state we wish to say, Enough. We need to close this painful chapter in our state’s history and turn our positive energies toward a prosperous and sustainable future. Pipeline construction is at a logical stopping point. The “looping” portion of the project, the first 11 miles that was intended to bring reliability to gas customers north of Williston, is completed. Any additional pipeline would become a transmission line, rushing more fossil fuels through Vermont.
The world is different than it was four years ago when the Department of Public Service and Vermont Gas were planning this project, and we are in the fortunate position of having more information. What may have looked sensible then, or even in 2013, does not now. Here is a partial list of new information since the project’s conception:
We have learned that for the planet to maintain a living habitat, 80% of the known fossil fuel reserves must be kept in the ground;1 new pipeline increases fossil fuel extraction. We now know that the global warming potential of methane (natural gas) is more than 86 times greater than CO2 over a 20-year period.2 Investing in fossil fuel infrastructure prevents investment in green technologies.3 The project cost has increased 220-256% since 2011,4 the burden of which would be borne by gas customers for decades.
The higher price tag has pushed out the return on investment to over 34 years; and current customers can’t be expected to carry this burden without tangible benefit. There is no proven correlation between pipelines and economic growth; Addison County already exceeds Franklin County in economic metrics.5
New technologies, such as heat pumps, combined with an investment in good old fashioned buttoning up, would cost households less and be a more enduring solution in our climate-conscious era. Fuel oil prices are predicted to continue to decline into 2016, 6 so even a minimal rate increase of 6% for gas customers would surpass the price of fuel oil. Further, it would take these consumers more than 25 years to recover conversion costs, which could tally over $9000.
We trust that you will read these updated facts earnestly because you demand excellence and consistency from your climate change policies. We hope that you agree with us that the ANGP’s carbon footprint must stop where it is, at 11 miles—a painless juncture at which to adjust policy. A signal of your agreement would have global implications by adding to the gains made at the Paris Climate Talks, by acknowledging the understanding that to survive we must update our technologies and habits, and by putting Vermont in an enviable leadership position on climate.
CC: Chris Recchia, Commissioner, Department of Public Service
1 Bill McKibben, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” Rolling Stone, July 19, 2012.
2 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group 1, Assessment Report 5, “Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing,” in Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, page 714, section 126.96.36.199, Table 8.7, CH4 GWP with climate-carbon feedbacks. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg1/WG1AR5_Chapter08_FINAL.pdf.
3 Kevin Bullis, “Natural Gas Could ‘Muscle Out’ Renewables,” MIT Technology Review, June 7, 2011.
4 “VGS estimates that the cost of expanding to Vergennes and Middlebury would be between $60 and $70 million.” Public Service Board, “Order Amending Alternative Regulation Plan,”
Docket No. 7712, September 28, 2011.
5 Median home value in Addison County is $234,500 or 14.7% more than Franklin County’s $204,400; Addison County retail sales per capita is $12,657 or 10% more than Franklin County’s $11,383; with a population of 37,009 and 5,217 firms registered to do business, Addison County has 44% more firms per capita than Franklin County’s 4,754 firms with a population of 48,642. United States Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/.
6 Energy Information Agency, http://www.eia.gov