Winds of Protest

Last night there were some protesters outside of the Autumn Harvest fundraiser at the Old Labor Hall in Barre, an annual event for Vermont Democrats. I get it. A lot of them live around the proposed Swanton Wind project on Rocky Ridge. I sympathize with them, and the project has come under some legitimate fire lately from Democrats, Republicans and many locals in between.

Their messaging and tactics were pretty off-putting though. There was a large bass drum that was continually pounded for much of the program, including speeches by Peter Welch and Patrick Leahy. Every time someone went outside and opened the doors of the Hall, the bass drum over-powered the speaker. Annoying, but not a terrible tactic if your point is about (alleged) noise-pollution from wind turbines.

On my way past the protesters, I stopped for a moment and said “How are you all doing?” I expected one of the organizers to say something to me, or come over and give me their plea for some policy change at the PSB re: Wind Siting. Instead a woman shouted at me that I was destroying our state and then a guy said, “You’re both young,” to me and my wife, “you’re going to have a family someday!” We already have a young daughter thanks a bunch, and I think renewables make the world a safer place for my family, but my wife will be flattered that you think we look young.

I don’t understand why they would treat everyone going to a Dems’ event as hostile to their cause. Plenty of folks in there are opposed to ridgeline wind projects, or at least open to a dialogue about siting standards. Gov. Shumlin (a pretty prominent Dem, no?) came out last week as being opposed to the Swanton Wind proposal. Makes me a little suspicious about who organized the protest.

The one thing that really got under my skin about the protest was a woman bellowing “VERMONT LIVES MAAAAAATTERRRR!” over and over. Trying to co-opt the Black Lives Matter messaging when you’re a white person who is primarily concerned about the aesthetics of a renewable energy project hurting your property value? Yuck.

About Mike McCarthy

I'm a guitar-playing Democrat living in Saint Albans, VT with my wife Steph and my daughter Molly. I represented Saint Albans in the VT House in 2013-2014. I care about good government, and a safe, healthier world for all of us. I work for an awesome solar company and love helping Vermonters re-power our communities.

6 thoughts on “Winds of Protest

  1. Speaking of protesters… Mike Smith’s LTE in the Times-Argus today complains about last week’s 3-day gas pipeline protest in Montpelier. He says: “When the intensity, rhetoric and actions of the protest don’t match that of the general public, then protesters appear to be out-of-line and over-the-top. ” Really, Mike Smith? A protester’s rhetoric should match that of the general public? If that were the case, then what would be the point. I wonder what would make Mike Smith take to the streets?

    I guess he wasn’t aware that the point of making a fuss is to send a jolt to the anesthetized public who in large part see little outside business-as-usual in their personal bubble. And maybe being off-putting – Mike M – is all that remains to those who have long (is it more than six years now?) been protesting degraded health, loss of sleep, use and valuation of their homes, derision from the PC who don’t live near these monsters, etc, etc, etc — with little understanding from their government or fellow Vermonters. I’m glad that you acknowledge their motivation, but if you went home from the Labor Hall that night and couldn’t sleep because your head and body felt like a drum being banged and that it wasn’t going to go “away,” you might see through the annoyance you felt and instead find out what you might be able to do to help.

  2. Comment on Pat Leahy’s Digger commentary today on the need to protect bats:

    “Mr. Leahy was approached by individuals protesting outside a Democratic fundraiser in Barre last night and was asked why he has not tried to stop the Deerfield wind project. Mr. Leahy pretended the questioner was not even there and just walked on by.”

  3. As someone who was at the protest, Mike is way off on his last paragraph. The point of Vermont Lives Matter is that the health of Vermonters has been harmed by these industrial wind projects in the State. These people have been ignored by our state and their years of complaints have fallen of deaf ears. Shouldn’t they matter?

    I am very saddened that I live in a state that can be so dismissive of people that are being harmed by projects approved by that same state. Knowing that this same torture is being proposed to affect even more homes and knowing that if it goes in, there is no recourse for any ill effects suffered is not what I expected from Vermont.

    The aesthetics and property values are just one small part of it. The potential for health issues for the many families that live so close to the proposed Swanton project is the main issue.

  4. Can the anti-wind, anti-solar, anti-nuke, and anti-hydro folks come to some sort of agreement that they can all demonstrate their NIMBYism at once?

    I agree with Mike, co-opting the Black Lives Matter meme to protest wind power is crass and smacks of elite privilege.

  5. Throwing out stereotypes (so many!) is easy, Woody. But I don’t know a soul who fits those stereotypes. How about explaining your positions?

    What would your siting criteria be, for instance, and what constitutes elite privilege, btw? I believe you’ve got that one backwards. Lots of money being made while some have abandoned their homes or sleep in their basement recliners to try to find sleep.
    You do like to sleep, I’m guesing.

    1. I agree that co-opting the BLM rhetoric was in very poor taste, regardless of the merits of the underlying argument. Bad call. DIgging in just makes it worse.

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