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.