FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hot Coals in Vermont

by JOSH FRANK

Howard Dean often talks tough about environmental protection and renewable energy expansion. But his gubernatorial record stands in glaring opposition to his rhetoical posture. In fact during five campaigns for governor in Vermont, the mainstream environmental group Sierra Club, never once endorsed his candidacy.

Conservation Law Foundation lawyer Chris Kilian opined in a September 2000 Rutland Herald editorial, “The privilege to earn a profit in Vermont does not automatically come, as Dean apparently believes, with a free pass to pollute our waters, despoil our natural resources or destroy our communities.” Dean said in an interview last year, “In Vermont, I was pretty much in the middle–the business community on one side, the environmental community on the other.”

When California’s energy crisis peaked, Howard Dean was spurring discussion about building a possible coal-fired plant in Vermont. Environmentalists were more than outraged. Although Dean did require car dealerships to sell a certain number of electric cars per year, he was no savior in Vermont.

“The resulting hue and cry,” Jonathan Lesser wrote an article in the Burlington Free Press following the incident, “was so strident that he might as well have proposed a state holiday celebrating child molesters. ”

Tom Elliot, the former political director of the Sierra Club in the 1990s, who valiantly protested governor Dean’s environmental mishaps reminisced, “Howard Dean’s environmental record in Vermont is toxic.”

Observers in neighboring downwind New Hampshire worried about Dean’s coal vision, ”It’s clearly the wrong approach,” said Steve Blackledge, director of New Hampshire Public Interest Research Group. ”Coal plants pollute more than other fossil fuels. And if Governor Dean wants diversity in fuel source, he should be pushing clean renewables.”

“I’m a little surprised and distressed to learn that the governor of Vermont seems to think that a new direction in Vermont’s energy policy requires more coal-fired power plants, given what we know about the contribution coal-fired plants to air pollution,” said Charles Niebling, who works for the Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests. ”It would be cleaner than [those in the Midwest]” said Niebling, “but yes, there is some irony in the fact that he wants to get tough on coal plants in the Midwest and is proposing to build one in Vermont at the same time I’m a little surprised and distressed to learn that the governor of Vermont seems to think that a new direction in Vermont’s energy policy requires more coal-fired power plants, given what we know about the contribution coal-fired plants to air pollution,” Niebling said.

Environmentalist’s so criticized the idea of a coal-fired plant that governor Dean let it go. Had he continued the so-called debate over the coal facility, it would have met with certain political suicide for the Yankee governor. When a Democrat like Dean becomes president, let us hope that environmentalists stick it to ’em. We don’t need to revert back to the Clinton era when environmental groups supported NAFTA, and spineless democratic senators such as Max Baucus of Montana mustered fast track legislation and the Salvage Rider Bill through congress — which ultimately laid the blueprint for Bush’s chainsaw forest plan. We can do better. We must.

We’ll see how New Hampshire reacts to all this as they get to cast their vote for or against governor Howard Dean on Tuesday. But let’s remember that even the new Skull and Bones hopeful John Kerry said he wouldn’t endorse the Kyoto agreement. Looks like the environment loses either way.

JOSH FRANK is writing a book on Howard Dean. He can be reached at: frank_joshua@hotmail.com

 

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His latest book, edited with Jeffrey St. Clair is  Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @brickburner

Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
Farzana Versey
Of Beyoncé, Trudeau and Culture Predators
Pete Dolack
Fanaticism and Fantasy Drive Purported TPP ‘Benefits’
Murray Dobbin
Canada and the TPP
Steve Horn
Army of Lobbyists Push LNG Exports, Methane Hydrates, Coal in Senate Energy Bill
Colin Todhunter
“Lies, Lies and More Lies” – GMOs, Poisoned Agriculture and Toxic Rants
Franklin Lamb
ISIS Erasing Our Cultural Heritage in Syria
David Mihalyfy
#realacademicbios Deserve Real Reform
Graham Peebles
Unjust and Dysfunctional: Asylum in the UK
Yves Engler
On Unions and Class Struggle
Alfredo Lopez
The ‘Bern’ and the Internet
Missy Comley Beattie
Super Propaganda
Ed Rampell
Great Caesar’s Ghost!: A Specter Haunts Hollywood in the Coen’s Anti-Anti-Commie Goofball Comedy
Cesar Chelala
The Public Health Impact of Domestic Violence
Ron Jacobs
Cold Weather Comforts of a Certain Sort
Charles Komanoff
On the Passing of the Jefferson Airplane
Charles R. Larson
Can One Survive the Holocaust?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail