Even the Dog Loves It
Thank you for publishing such a great weekly newspaper! Sorry to hear about your cat [From the Publisher: "Cat Tale," August 10]. My family wanted you to know that our golden retriever, Willa, really enjoyed reading the annual Animal Issue.
Tim, Marcia, Crosby and Lily Waite
I was just reading ["Upward Mobility," August 17]! Thank you so much for such a lovely focus on mobile home parks and the wonderful residents who live there. It was tenant leaders at Westbury Park, Tall Timbers of Quechee, Tri-Park Cooperative Housing and other parks who helped get laws strengthened to protect residents and their investments and to give them the first option to purchase the land under their homes. Many of those people are no longer with us, but the results from their volunteer efforts and organizing that you write about are amazing!
Thanks for telling these stories.
Real Cost of High School
[Re "Burlington Voters Will Consider a $165 Million School Bond in November," August 15, online]: The school board's version of the projected cost for the new Burlington High School is somewhat misleading. The actual cost to taxpayers would not be $165 million; including interest payments, which typically are at a 3.5 percent rate over 20 years, the total bill to the taxpayers would be approximately $230 million.
Does that make you want to rethink your support for this project? And could we not really have done remediation for much less?
Louis Mannie Lionni
Rat Poison Kills Cats
[Re "Rats! Residents of Burlington's Old North End Battle a Vermin Incursion," August 10]: I was recently visiting a friend's lake house near Burlington and noticed a large rodent bait station out front. When I asked about it, they said they had been told by their "green" pest control company that it was "herbal." I happened to be there when that very company came by to service the bait stations, and I asked to see the product. It was an anticoagulant second-generation poison called bromadiolone. This and many other poisons in the same class cause a torturous death over three to four days by excessive internal bleeding, making the animal vulnerable to predators, which then suffer the same fate. This might include eagles, owls, hawks, coyotes, foxes, minks and your domestic cat.
I live in a suburb of Boston that has seen a marked increase in the rat population during the pandemic due to the composition of people's trash. Pest control companies have spread this class of poisons widely to homeowners, and they have done so with lies purporting a "safe" product. As a result, we have seen the death of the first two bald eaglets born here in living memory, as well as three-quarters of a family of great horned owls nesting in a park — and those are just the well-publicized deaths.
An early morning walker, I once regularly saw coyotes and foxes but haven't seen any in well over a year. Notably, these poisons have been banned by the state of California, and I hope others will follow. Educate yourself at raptorsarethesolution.org.
Thank you for exposing the underlying absurdity of Vermont Gas Systems' renewable gas advertising campaign ["Hot Air? Vermont Gas Says It's Reinventing Itself to Help the Climate. Critics Call Its Strategy 'Greenwashing,'" July 27]. Adding 1.3 percent renewable gas to a pipeline filled with fracked gas is like adding vitamins to drinking water flowing through lead pipes.
I would also like to point out that data in the graphic on page 35 comparing "Pounds of C02 emitted per million British thermal units (Btu) of energy" show emissions from combustion only. The data do not account for the considerable fugitive emissions, aka leaks, from gas production, storage and distribution before it is burned.
Natural gas is almost entirely methane, and, over a 20-year period — essentially the maximum time we have left to act — the global warming impact of methane is 81 to 83 times greater than CO2, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is so damaging that if more than 3 percent of the gas produced leaked into the air, the global warming impact of natural gas would actually be worse than coal. A major, frequently cited study published in Science magazine estimated the leak percentage at 2.3 percent. The industry argues that it is lower, but some more recent studies have found far greater leaking.
Whatever the number, the best way to act on our climate goals is to ban all new natural gas infrastructure and start the phaseout of natural gas now.
Solution: Buy RNG
[Re "Hot Air? Vermont Gas Says It's Reinventing Itself to Help the Climate. Critics Call Its Strategy 'Greenwashing,'" July 27]: Instead of protesting that Vermont Gas Systems' marketing efforts amount to "greenwashing," critics of fossil fuels should put their money where their mouths are, sign up for renewable natural gas and pay the true cost of a carbon-neutral fuel.
It is immaterial whether the particular molecules delivered to one's home are fracked gas or derived from cow manure; just as the electrons from solar panels are mixed on the grid with fossil fuel-based electric power, actual delivery of a particular gas molecule is beside the point. Shifting as much of the gas supply as possible to RNG or green hydrogen is a big step in the right direction. While the article correctly points out that burning RNG releases CO2 (rather than allowing the 27-times-more-potent methane to escape directly into the atmosphere), this CO2 was originally extracted by the plants the cows are ingesting — the net effect is zero.
Think of it this way: If we all were forced to pay four times as much for RNG, rather than cheaper fracked gas, electrification of our homes would make much more economic sense, and conversion by consumers would accelerate.
Another View of Curtis Pond
["Maple Corner Gives a Dam," August 3] fails to map the watershed connection: Pekin Brook and the wetlands that support Curtis Pond are headwaters to the Kingsbury Branch, which flows to the Winooski River and, ultimately, Lake Champlain. Once, this river flowed freely, moving sediment, nutrients, fish and other organisms downstream. Then, in 1900, Curtis Pond Dam was built to create a millpond.
This man-made barrier caused the water to stop moving, resulting in warmer water temperature, less dissolved oxygen and a sediment-starved downstream. The trout were replaced by sunfish, the biodiversity dropped, nutrients were trapped and the emergent wetland vegetation suffocated.
Reconnecting rivers is a nature-based solution to climate change, and it's no secret that Lake Champlain is in trouble. Local watershed associations and conservation districts, regional planners, and state and federal partners are working hard with communities to weigh the benefits and impacts and prioritize projects that achieve the most water quality, habitat and public safety improvements while at the same time supporting improved public access for recreation, including fishing, swimming and boating. Vermont's future depends on clean water, and removal of derelict dams is part of the clean water puzzle.
Curtis Pond is obviously an important resource to the residents of Maple Corner, and the Vermont Natural Resources Council supports their efforts to maintain it. But it is equally important to understand the trade-offs these decisions involve. We must take every advantage to remove derelict dams that fragment habitat, degrade water quality and pose a threat to downstream properties.
Dailey is a restoration ecologist with the Vermont Natural Resources Council.