Opinion: County must speak out against gas pipeline project

A pipeline of fracked gas from Canada through Vermont; perhaps this struggle really comes down to what’s important: principles or profit? Ethics or greed?

I don’t buy gas from ExxonMobil, and haven’t, since their devastating oil spill 25 years ago in Alaska — why should I give my money to a company without conscience, driven by greed? Prince William Sound has still not recovered, and ExxonMobil has fought any responsibility for their carelessness. I don’t own stock in Big Oil and Gas, nor tobacco, whiskey, weapons or Monsanto. I don’t want to support corporations without principles, and I don’t want to make money from the rape of our natural resources and our planet’s destruction. Why would I?

Gaz Metro/Vermont Gas wants their fracked gas pipeline to go through Vermont, regardless of its impact upon our landscape, wildlife, lakes, streams and rivers, regardless of the ethics involved in fracking, using toxic chemicals, taking and polluting millions of gallons of water belonging to all of us, not an oil company, regardless of its impact on climate change.

Phase II of the fracked gas pipeline is a direct line to International Paper in New York, a company that has polluted Lake Champlain for the past 40 years, with endless lawsuits and battles, denying any responsibility for their leaks, spills, air pollution and the toxic sludge that sits on the bottom of Lake Champlain. What will happen if that sludge is moved or disturbed? And what do you suppose IP will do when there’s a methane leak, or an explosion, and our lake, fish and wildlife is damaged irrevocably?

Why would we allow this? We are in desperate straits, and there is no time to waste. If you were told you have only six months left to live, what would you do? What would be important? Who would you spend time with? How would you choose to walk within the world: with integrity, love, and care and appreciation? Or would you trash it, leaving it toxic and polluted, without birdsong, fresh water lakes and rivers, and clean air, without bees, or maple trees?

What will you tell your children, and grandchildren? “Oh, I’m sorry for what we did to the earth, but you don’t really need to go outside anyway — you can text, communicate and connect online. But look at all we ate, and bought, and consumed — you understand, don’t you?”

I wouldn’t. I grew up in the country, and learned to love and appreciate it, as my parents did. They lived frugally by choice, and they didn’t over-spend, or consume unnecessarily. The thermostat was turned down in the winter, and we wore sweaters inside rather than burn more oil. We reused what we could. My parents believed in the value of education, and books, art, music and nature. They loved the wonder of birds and wildlife, the woods and countryside. They had principles and knew our natural resources were fragile, and not limitless. They left us a livable planet, but we are not continuing that practice for our children.

If you believe that a fracked gas pipeline through Vermont is wrong, morally and ethically, for our present and our future, say so and don’t support it. Tell your local newspapers, and editors, Middlebury College, the Addison County Regional Planning Commission and our elected officials to take a stand against Vermont Gas, a Canadian-owned company which acts without principles, threatening to take our land with bullying and eminent domain, trespasses on our property, drills under our lakes and rivers, and divides families, farms, friends and our communities with fear, lies and false promises. This is wrong, and the wrong direction for Vermont.

We have choices, and Vermont is known for its ethics and “can-do” spirit. We can lead the way forward to a sustainable future, by weatherizing, using air-to-air heat pumps, geothermal, wood and solar panels or a community solar project, NOT by building an already obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure, driven by oil and gas companies who want to lock us into a calamitous future with their fossil fuels for 50 more years.

We need to speak out against putting profit before principles, against corporate greed, at an incalculable cost to all of us Vermonters and our future.

Bethany Barry Menkart

Cornwall

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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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