So where’s Bob Hartwell going with all this?

Back in early January, Senator Bob Hartwell raised some eyebrows in the enviro community when he came out against expanding the Bottle Bill to include water bottles. Instead, he asserted that the Bottle Bill’s days are numbered, thanks to the coming new era of recycling:

“I think we need to face up to the fact that everything is going to go through the single-stream systems,” Hartwell said. “At some point, the bottle bill will be eliminated.”

Hartwell chairs the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, so his statement made the news. He may well have a point, but he’s at odds with environmental groups pushing to expand the bill, not kill it.  

At about the same time, Hartwell made some other comments that went largely unnoticed, but ought to cause an even bigger stir: He cast doubt on Vermont’s goal of 90% renewable energy by the year 2050, as formalized in the Comprehensive Energy Plan. His comments came on Vermont Senate Spotlight, a cable TV show hosted by the George Stephanopoulos of Vermont Community Access, Michael Abadi, best known in these parts as former host of VT Blogosphere TV.  

And in making a case against the 90% goal, Hartwell sounded a whole lot like a Republican — more concerned with cost than with climate change.

There’s a stunning amount of… oil and gas in North America. I think we have to figure out if were going to use a lot of it. Certainly there’s a lot of proposals for expansion of natural gas in Vermont, which would reduce the cost of doing business. And we have a very high cost of doing business in Vermont.

We definitely need to deal with it… The part about the Comprehensive Energy Plan that bothers me a little was the 90% renewables by 2050, because it’s a little hard to tell where it came from. And it’s not in state law. So I think we’re going to look at that part as to whether — because the temptation is to try to reach a goal that may be temporary, or may be somehow inaccurate or unachievable, and that could cost us a lot of money if we mishandle that.

So we’re going to look at that part and we’re going to make sure to look at the entire picture of what’s going to be available to us in the future.

Did you notice what was missing in that little disquisition? How about “climate change,” “greenhouse gases,” and even “environment.” Instead, we get “cost,” “cost,” and “cost.” And an implicit endorsement of fossil fuels, including fracked gas and tar sands oil.

After the jump: Aiming squarely at Vermont’s renewables goal.

And we get a direct assault on the 90% goal itself: “it’s a little hard to tell where it came from.” Well, Bob, it came from a lengthy multi-agency process that included a huge quantity of input from stakeholders, interest groups, and the general public. It came from people a whole lot more informed than Bob Hartwell. “Hard to tell where it came from,” indeed.

Here we have the chairman of the Senate’s committee on environment and energy — a Democrat, mind you — stating his desire to rip open the CEP and, apparently, eviscerate it.

I’ve been told that Senator Hartwell has a solid environmental record. He’s certainly not acting like it these days. Maybe he wasn’t all that solid in the first place. Maybe his head’s been turned by all the lobbyists who target the SNRE chair. Maybe he’s attacking the CEP as part of his crusade against ridgeline wind energy: remove the 90% target, and there’s no official impetus for expanding renewables.

I don’t know. But I think Hartwell’s anti-CEP talk is bigger news than his opposition to the Bottle Bill.  

4 thoughts on “So where’s Bob Hartwell going with all this?

  1. I’m against ‘unregulated’ INDUSTRIAL wind farms for environmental reasons–it could be done better and cleaner, located better in regards to our ‘natural resources’ of the Vermont landscape and wildlife, and made quieter.  That being said, I find Mr. Hartwell’s position on CEP and the Bottle LAW smacking of the same old, same old–let’s just keep making money for what the Big Boys have in place, regardless that Vermont and Vermonters could make probably MORE MONEY in the future investing in alternate energy and energy efficiency.  The future should NOT be tied to CORPORATE ENERGY.  Like saying the Earth Is Flat.  Corporate Energy cares about the immediate short-term Bottom Line, not about the future, Global Warming, or the environment.  They know that if they screw-up, the Feds (Us) will bail them out.

    The Bottle LAW (not BILL, Bob) is an environmental law.  These containers are NOT garbage.  What ‘single-stream system’ is he talking about?  Casella?  Go BACKWARDS now?  That’s what the REPUBLICANS are for.  Jesus Fuck.  Soon they really will be saying that the Earth is FLAT.

  2. Never compare a Persian to a Greek. Consider yourself warned. And besides my name’s easier to spell.

    Thanks jv, I though Hartwell was making some news there but tree falls in the forest of public access tv and all that.  

  3. I don’t know. But I think Hartwell’s anti-CEP talk is bigger news than his opposition to the Bottle Bill.

    However, proposed ending of “Bottle Bill” is bad enough also. Supposedly due to future enhanced rules & laws not only incredibly stupid suggestion in VT of all places, but a stunning departure from reality as well as a job-killing & industry-destroying ridiculously ludicrous fools-errand (bottle deposit has created a huge recycling industry).

    Charities  — mostly our local bottle drives —  would also lose a major funding source. Many drop cans, bottles off @ local redeemers & simply specify which charity they wish to sponsor the local redeemers are handling (free of charge) collection for. Local bottle drives are often publicized early enough for local folks to save the sometimes trash-barrel-sized trove to conveniently bag & set out for these eager hard-working youngsters & volunteers to easily pack into waiting vehicles.

    Though some recycling would continue under a new recycling law, the ones who are handling it now would be out of business, underfunded charities & local fund drives (there is even a can-tab bucket which supports Shriner charities) would lose a regular source of funding (think animal shelters) and those employees out of work. Ridiculously myopic & mystifyingly stupid.

    Much of if not all of the different types of fleece such as the very fine, velvety turtle-fur — all or most come from recycled soda bottles!

    Bottle redeemers also have cardboard, paper & plastic piles (cardboard – boxboard, frozen waxed & corrugated including all paper is a cash-crop for recycling facilities as recycled paper is in huge demand for industries & companies using paper/cardboard in maufucturing or printing) all of which either goes to the local rcycling facilities or is directly picked up by resellers of recyclables. The sturdy glass from wine bottles can be used to make drinking glasses as well as funky incredibly beautiful jewelry. Crushed glass is also recycled. WalMart takes & presumably recycles all grocery bags from all stores, (the only thing they do to contribute to the well being of society).

    Also, as we are in green-up season, worth mentioning that it was started in part to help keep our roadsides clear from the jerks who simply tossed containers out the window to be picked up by local or state road crews at a cost to the taxpayer.

    Now we are bginning to see the non-recyclable glas bottles, cans & water bottles littering roadsides or tossed in the trash — all of which should also be recycled.

    So given the industry the bottle bill & related industry it has created, in fact it should be expanded to include all of these containers imho. An extra 5 cents & simply another recyclable tossed into the bin to further & increase the wonderful world of recyclables related industry our consumer-driven convenience our throw-away society has spawned.  

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