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Editorial: What about the environment?

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Posted on October 10, 2013 |
By Angelo S. Lynn



In today's other editorial, the win-win scenario refers to the state and Vermont Gas getting a pipeline to Rutland in the fastest manner and with the least amount of political and legal consequence.

Environmentalists opposed to the pipeline might rightly ask: But what about the environment?

The central premise for supporters of the pipeline is that natural gas is a bridge fuel to a time in which renewable energy can meet area needs. Under that scenario, while no fossile fuel is clean, natural gas produces less carbon dioxide at the point of consumption than fuel oil and costs roughly half at current rates. Furthermore, today’s reality is that the state’s renewable capacity is nowhere close to meeting demand for the foreseeable future. Opponents argue that it merely delays the state’s drive toward the development of more renewable energy and creates added dependency on fossile fuels.

Both are right. The compromise might be to demonstrate that natural gas is truly a bridge fuel. How? It fits a public policy goal to take the savings from natural gas use (the differential between the cost of using fuel oil and natural gas) and levy a tax on those savings to be dedicated to promoting renewable energy. That provides the state with funds to subsidize renewable energy use and development.

No tax is popular and there would be many opponents to the idea, but if natural gas is truly intended as a bridge fuel, then public policy can play a role in making it so.

Angelo S. Lynn

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