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Letters to the Editor (5/28/14)

Published May 28, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.

The Pipeline's Other End

[Re "Pipe Dreams," May 14]: Among the objections cited by opponents of the Vermont Gas pipeline extension are the pollution caused by fracking and the investment in fossil-fuel infrastructure. The first should be solved by strong environmental regulation on the fracking industry, not by restricting gas conduits. With regard to the second, the pipeline should be considered as and built to be a delivery system not only for natural gas, which adds to our carbon dioxide footprint, but for a future nonpolluting fuel: hydrogen. Burning hydrogen produces no greenhouse gases. Hydrogen is renewable and can be produced by electrolysis from solar cells or by windmill generators. Just this week Toyota announced that it was canceling its investment in battery technology and putting its money behind fuel cells. With the proper controls on fracked gas production and a strategy toward a hydrogen-based future, this pipeline could reduce the pollution emitted by Addison County for many years to come.

Steve Levy


Missing Voices?

In her May 14 cover story about the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project ["Pipe Dreams," May 14], reporter Kathryn Flagg shares quotes from eight people who own property along the proposed route and are not in favor or have mixed views of the project: one selectboard member; one economic development official; one lobbyist paid by VPIRG; and one VPIRG staffer.

She also quoted people who see the benefits of the natural gas project: me as a representative of Vermont Gas; two economic development officials; a homeowner in Shoreham; and a Rutland businessman. To get the full scope on how a larger spectrum of Vermonters feel about the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project, Flagg also could have interviewed:

  • low- and middle-income residents who could cut heating and fuel bills in half if they switch from fuel oil or propane to natural gas.
  • fixed-income seniors who can't keep pace with rising costs to heat their homes.
  • social-service organizations that can stay open thanks to fuel bill savings.
  • residents and business owners who benefit from the $13 million in energy savings created by Vermont Gas' efficiency programs every year.
  • school administrators that can maintain or add staff or programming thanks to lower energy costs.
  • people whose towns served by the project will receive tax payments.
  • Vergennes residents who voted 70 percent in favor of bringing natural gas to the city.
  • small-business owners who can hire and build their businesses here.
  • larger business owners that, like Cabot, estimate they could save as much as $3 million every year to reinvest in the business, employees and community.
  • employees at Vermont companies like ECI, who can provide steady employment building the project.
  • Vermont residents who work at, and are suppliers to, the International Paper mill.
  • residents of the Champlain Valley who will breathe cleaner air thanks to reduced greenhouse-gas emissions.
  • farmers looking for a way to sell renewable methane gas produced by their cows and transported via the pipeline.
  • maple-syrup producers who can cut their sap-boiling costs in half by using natural gas.

While Vermonters are passionate about many issues, the benefits of the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project are clear. Natural gas is safer, cleaner and about half the cost when compared with propane or fuel oil. The reduced energy bills encourage job creation and retention, giving Addison and Rutland counties the economic advantages that Chittenden County has enjoyed for almost half a century.

Look beyond the headlines to see the goal of Vermont's largest infrastructure project: serving the public good. There is clear support for the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project — you just need to look for it.

Steve Wark

Wark is a spokesman for Vermont Gas.

WTF Indeed

Twenty-first century media may only track the "first theater in the country to serve alcohol during first-run features" back to 1997, as cited in [WTF: "Why can't moviegoers buy beer or wine in Burlington-area theaters?" May 21]. But thankfully memories go back further than the internet or NATO's digital recall. 

I have fond memories of the Stowe movie theater that was part of the Jack Straw Inn on the Mountain Road. That theater had traditional movie seating before the not-so-big-but-big-enough screen, and a glassed-in bar area up above in place of the balcony, where of-age patrons could drink and watch the movie. My late pal Bill Hunter and I caught a rare one-night-only showing of Robert Downey's Greaser's Palace there as seniors in high school. Though we weren't old enough to imbibe, the movie was immeasurably improved by the laughter from the drinking viewers up top. 

The first-run showing of The Gambler proved particularly memorable when one drinking audience member up top broke out in raucous laughter when a boom mike dropped into view; thereafter, everyone in the theater was keeping an eye out for the not-so-hidden microphones and every eruption of laughter indicated a find. It wasn't really a drinking game for us under-21 viewers in the main theater, but we participated fully, and it sure improved the movie! 

Further south, the first-run movie theater that used to be in the little strip mall in Londonderry also sported a bar-viewing area. Living in the area from 1979 to 1982, I got to attend with friends often, and we usually enjoyed a beer or drink with the show. 

I'm not sure when that theater shut down, but that's two Vermont first-run movie theaters with bars serving-alcohol prior to 1985 that I know of and frequented. 

Stephen R. Bissette



In a recent Fair Game column ["Not So Scheuer," May 14], Paul Heintz wrote that the Vermont State Colleges, University of Vermont and Vermont Student Assistance Corporation all asked the legislature for 3 percent increases in the FY 2015 state budget. In fact, VSC asked for a 4 percent increase.