Saturday April 6, 2013

Beware of
’wind warriors’

Editor of the Reformer:

In response to Sally Warren’s letter (March 23), we want to clarify that we were not saying (in our March 15 column) those opposed to a wind farm in Grafton are on the payroll of the Koch brothers. Our concern is that many well-intentioned citizens, in Grafton and around the country, are unwittingly advancing the work of groups promoting the larger ultra-conservative agenda of undermining progress toward renewable energy, which is necessary for slowing the advance of climate change.

Suzanne Goldenberg, writing in The Guardian, alerted us to the connection between the timing of the ultra-conservatives’ meeting to formulate their anti-wind campaign in states and the very vocal and emotional opposition to wind farms that has arisen in the last year. We suspected "wind warriors" were at work, and in that we were correct. The senators who crafted S. 30 -- Galbraith, Hartwell and Benning -- were accompanied at a public information meeting, by Lisa Linowes, the head of the New Hampshire-based Industrial Wind Action Group, described in a press-release as "an expert on the impacts of the industrial-scale wind energy development on natural environment, communities and the regional grid system."

According to the Checks and Balances Project, the IWAG routinely posts "articles and information from sources whose work is unscientific or has been linked to the fossil fuel industry -- rather than objective sources that could help residents and government officials make informed decisions." According to the Project’s investigative research, IWAG "continues to hype anti-wind rhetoric above reality." One of their tactics has been the creation of more than one hundred videos to spread anti-wind propaganda, many of which have been circulating around Vermont.

In the Sierra Club’s report, Clean Energy Under Siege, Linowes was described as one of the "bad actors" in the drama, who attended the February, 2012 gathering of "wind warriors" convened by John Droz of the ultra-conservative American Tradition Institute, at which the state campaign against wind was formulated. She has been active in Vermont since then. A question to ask is why the crafters of S. 30 would have had as their expert at public information meetings -- not only in Grafton, but around the state -- someone so tied to the fossil fuel industry.

As landowners and long-time residents of Vermont, we share with others a deep love for our mountains and forests. We wrote out of that love and out of distress that the cynical twisting of the truth by the ultra-conservative campaign against wind (and solar, too) would, if successful, endanger the Vermont landscape by making it prey to hurricanes, droughts, disease, and other forces brought about by climate change. Though lovely to imagine we can meet the challenges of climate change through small dams and water power, conservation and public transport (all good and necessary steps), research based on sound science shows otherwise. Only with a concerned effort by all of us to formulate renewable energy policies based on science, rather than propaganda, will be able to protect the Vermont landscape we cherish.

Charlene Ellis and Fred Taylor,

Dummerston, March 29

A good investment

Editor of the Reformer:

Public health is a good return on investment by saving lives and saving money. Supporting evidence-based public health programs results in healthier communities and reduced cost in treating diseases. Every day, public health practitioners work to ensure everyone has the opportunity to lead a healthy life. The value of a strong public health system is quite literally all around us -- it’s in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the places where we all live, learn, work and play. It’s in the thousands of people whose lives are saved by seat belts, the young people who say "NO!" to tobacco and the children given a healthy start, thanks to vaccines. Join us in recognizing the public health return on investment during National Public Health Week, April 1-7. For more information on public health programs in Vermont visit www.healthvermont.gov.

Dianne Champion,

District Director, Vermont Department of Health,

Brattleboro District, April 1

Eyes on the road

Editor of the Reformer:

Hey Folks: It’s that time of year when bicyclists and horseback riders take to the road shoulders. Unlike bikes, horses can be unpredictable, and drivers need to stay aware and focused (undistracted) around them. To help keep everyone safe, take a look at this new public service announcement developed by the Vermont Horse Council and the University of Vermont, on how you can drive safely around horses. See it at http://tinyurl.com/PSA-horse-road. Thanks.

Laurie Bayer,

Putney, April 3

Mental health care in Vermont
not the best

Editor of the Reformer:

I have been very pleased to note the repeated (and front page) coverage of mental health related issues in the Reformer recently. That can only lead to good things. The complexity of the problems requires a great deal of public education and understanding.

Poor Judge Wesley recently had to do the Solomon’s justice thing which he might have been able to avoid if the whole system was not so out of whack in Vermont. We are a civil liberties state -- the polar opposite of someplace like Texas, and equally extreme. Extremes never work well. They are too rigid and cannot, by definition, address the widest range of possibilities. Police and treatment professionals in Vermont are hobbled by having no statutory avenue to cope with the emotionally disturbed person who does not see what a danger they are to themselves and others and refuses treatment, medication, or any other kind of curtailment.

I am the mother of someone like this as well as a mental health clinician with 30 years of experience. I have been pretty much helpless for 27 years trying to keep my family member safe. (This, by the way, is why it is most often the mothers who get attacked, killed, etc., since we are usually on the front line desperately trying to get help) The absolute worst was the period when my relative lived in Vermont.

Brattleboro Police Chief Gene Wrinn tried to help, HCRS understaffed and overworked as they are tried to help. We had no leverage. Thankfully, my family member is back in Massachusetts and far safer. Practically the minute of arrival in that state bizarre behavior was reported to the police, evaluated by a crisis team and involuntarily hospitalization occurred (after 3 years here with one escalating episode after another and no action taken). Massachusetts and most other states have a far more balanced attitude and legal structure to deal with mental illness. They are not always right, but they are seldom as terribly wrong as we are here.

Claudette Hollenbeck,

Wilmington, April 4