Thursday February 21, 2013

The negative side effects of wind power

Editor of the Reformer:

Mr. Wilson’s column ("Commercial-scale wind power," Feb. 12) is very disappointing and indicates a quite shallow understanding of the issues involved with industrial wind. The major flaw is what is left out. Yes, such installations can bring revenue to a town, just like Vermont Yankee; and, yes, wind power seems like an obvious way you avoid fossil fuels. But just a modicum of research would have led him to an extensive list of prohibitively negative consequences of installing such towers.

They are horrendously and permanently invasive as they are built and after they are installed. We can recover eventually from erosion caused by the sheep industry; the forest will repair itself after ruinous logging practices; but another creation must pass this way before the leveled mountain tops are with us again. Just take a look at West Virginia. The removal of the soil and bed rock will make future storm water events far worse.

The technology is such that the very construction of the machinery to harness the wind costs more in carbon creation than anything they will save. They would not exist without deep U.S. subsidies, yet the companies building these towers are all foreign -- the money is going abroad. Remember, Breen Mountain Power is a Quebec company, and the group hoping to build in Grafton/Windham is Iberdola, a huge Spanish energy conglomerate.

The animal impact studies sent to me by Iberdola (I am a neighbor to the planned site) are company generated studies done in the far west and have nothing to do with the New England eco-region.

Bats and raptors are usually not killed by being hit by the blades; they are killed by just being near the blades, which create a vacuum-induced vortex which blows the blood vessels open.

The range of noise disturbance is far greater than companies will admit -- up to three miles, 24 hours a day.

Because of quickly changing demographics, a small town like Grafton is in trouble -- 50 houses are listed for sale on a local website and most have been there for several years -- noisy and ugly wind towers will not keep Grafton in its place on the list 10 most beautiful towns in America.

It is wise to look into something carefully before jumping on the band wagon.

Richard A. Warren,

Grafton, Feb. 13

Valuing patients
over profits

Editor of the Reformer:

Insurance offered through Vermont’s Health Benefit Exchange is not part of Vermont’s future Single Payer. Required by the 2010 Federal ACA ("Obama-Care"), the Exchange sells private plans for those needing insurance. Also, Catamount and VHAP will cease and Medicaid will be offered there, to cover those needing insurance in 2014, three years before SP begins. The exchange will not save money. It perpetuates America’s profitable private insurance model. Insurance is mandatory; and the cost could be a hardship for the neediest, with insufficient subsidies, until SP begins. Private insurers as "middlemen" are in business to make profits for themselves and stockholders. They handle the money and billing. They do not provide health care.

Cost control is built into SP’s design. It will happen only if we rein in the profligacy of our wasteful mix of multiple insurers, equipment, drug companies and other profiteers. Costs are helping to bankrupt our depressed economy where many remain uninsured. However, for now the Exchange can cover most of the uninsured. It can also move means-tested low-income beneficiaries in and out of insurance plans, and may even can delay their re-insurance as their incomes fluctuate.

Single Payer will provide uninterrupted coverage 24/7 independent of employment, for all citizens who lack insurance, for lower cost. SP serves many countries and is verified by expert analyses. America’s Medicare and Veterans Affairs are variations of SP, though they need improvement. The GMC Board in designing Vermont’s SP recognizes the need for more primary care providers and fewer specialists. It is restructuring health care organization and delivery, payment systems, etc. SP’s very nature should also support medical professionalism which has been strained in today’s business model that values profits over patients. Our talented professionals value patients above profits and need the support of a system that honors their ethics as health professionals.

Margaret Newton, MD,

West Brattleboro, Feb. 12

Support for White

Editor of the Reformer:

I was fortunate to have served on the Dummerston Selectboard with Lewis White when he first took a seat at the table. Lewis was no different from any who came before, or who will come later; he, as I, was an amateur, willing to simply step up and be of service to his town. There’s an awful lot of knowledge and procedure to absorb, and, clearly, it takes time.

I was impressed not only with how quickly and thoroughly he immersed himself in learning the business of our town, but also with the depth of his thought and perspective. Lewis was a breath of fresh air, and he’s grown to lead the board admirably, while being a staunch advocate for all of the citizens of Dummerston.

As board members, we’re keenly, nearly painfully, aware of the danger of conflicts of interest, and the first red flag is the simple perception of a conflict. In their training seminars, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns makes it clear that a relationship, whether by blood, by association, or by proximity, doesn’t, by itself, present a conflict. Indeed, those relationships by themselves would render most of our small-town governments in violation.

Those relationships do, however, dictate the need for vigilance to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Lewis White, from the start of his tenure on the Selectboard, has been beyond vigilant. I can state categorically that his interest has always been focused on the good of the town and our citizens.

We’re very, very fortunate to have so many talented, good-hearted, committed people who are willing to invest huge chunks of their lives in the common good, at no small expense to themselves. Among the very best of those I’d include Lewis White, who has been quietly giving his best to us all. If we do lose Lewis, we lose a lot.

On Town Meeting Day, I’ll do my small part to convince him to reconsider in a simple way. I won’t check off Lewis White’s name on the ballot; I’ll write in his name, so that my vote is not just a vote for office, but a clear vote of confidence. Join me in writing in Lewis White’s name for the two-year Selectboard seat.

Kevin Ryan,

Dummerston, Feb. 15