Saturday, October 22, 2011

View to the South where there once was no view !

TV News coverage of GMP vs. the Nelsons

A Canadian blog post tells our story:

John Laforet: Vermont Wind Farm Site Meets Occupation of Its Own

Published On 22 Oct 2011 By . Under World News.

On Sept. 28 2011, while Occupy Wall Street entered it’s second week of high-profile coverage for their occupation of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, an occupation of a very different kind began taking place in Lowell, VT. Those occupying the ‘blast zone’ on Lowell Mountain, have adopted code names to protect themselves legally and have been chronicling the experience on a blog called Mountain Talk.

Concerned citizens have worked together to oppose the Canadian-owned Green Mountain Power’s (GMP) bid to clear-cut and blast 134 acres of ridge top to install 21 industrial wind turbines in this environmentally-sensitive area. There are also real concerns about the impact this project could have on the $1.4 billion dollars of tourism Vermont’s famous Green Mountains draw to the state.

Residents fought every administrative approval granted to GMP, challenged their approvals all the way to the Supreme Court of Vermont and failed to gain the legal remedy they sought.

Left with no other options, residents began a legal occupation of private property that falls within the blast zone (where flying rocks could be expected to land during the planned blasting should rocks cross the property line). Vermont’s Attorney General William Sorrell has made it clear state authorities are powerless to intervene on behalf of GMP; “There is no criminal violation that comes readily to mind,” he said.

Since then, approximately a dozen visitors at any one time have taken up residence camping on the ridge top on land owned by Don and Shirley Nelson. Don Nelson defends the move by saying, “Those campers are friends, neighbours from all over the state. I’ve always had my land open and they asked if they could go up there and camp and that’s what they’re doing.”

GMP has changed it’s initial position, which had previously been that they were currently blasting and clear-cutting the other side of the mountain and this conflict wouldn’t come to a head until the winter and has made two significant moves last week to attempt to solve the impasse.

Last Monday GMP offered the Nelsons their full public asking price $1.25 million to sell their land to GMP. Shortly after Nelsons received alegal notice from GMP threatening them of potential time delay-related liabilities of approximately a million dollars as a result of the ongoing occupation. The Nelsons responded to their potential changing financial needs by increasing their asking price by the one million dollars they now had reason to believe there were to be sued for. GMP responded by pulling the offer to purchase their farm, and occupiers continue their camping adventure within the majestic beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains.

GMP’s position on whether the occupiers were an issue or not has changed as well, with the company stating last Thursday they could use blasting mats to prevent the potential of crushing people on neighbouring properties with flying boulders, before winning a court order last Friday to require the Nelsons’ guests to stay at least 1,000 feet back from the blast zone while GMP blows up portions of the mountain. Concerned citizens have stated they will not be leaving the mountain, and have received civil disobedience training the Monday following the court order.

Further complicating GMP’s position is a stop work order issued by the State of Vermont on the side of the mountain currently being clear-cut and blasted, where GMP experienced a problem more common to mountaintop removal coal mining operations, sedimentary runoffs that have an adverse environmental impact. According to David Mears, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, “These were fairly serious violations of the storm water permit…”

This isn’t the first environmentally-focused blockade or occupation against the irresponsible practices of the wind industry. In July 2011, six activists were arrested in Denmark after a 10-day blockade aimed at preventing clear-cutting to make way for an industrial wind research centre. Construction of industrial wind turbines on New Hampshire’s Kirby Mountains also met civil disobedient resistance when 50 members of Earth First! protested and some chained themselves to a truck carrying a massive blade to the construction site, halting operations for the day. In 2009, a British sit-in lasted 19 days at a soon-to-be closed Vestas wind turbine blade factory on the Isle of Wright.

The Lowell Mountains occupation has a created an interesting legal situation by deadlocking competing legal rights and interests. It serves as a lesson to all Vermonters that democracy and defiance is alive and well in their famed Green Mountains, and for now, so is the environmentally sensitive habitat that occupiers are seeking to protect.

Here a few more news links while we await more news from the mountain:

Quiet on the mountain today. Old Crow and Woodchuck spent the day. Wild Ginger had spent the night before. There was no blasting. Just a lot of the usual destruction with all the machinery. Old Crow hadn’t been up in 4 days. It always looks worse if you miss too many days in a row. They are going so fast! It is so sad to see our mountain dying right in front of us….

The following video shows the de-limber scalping the limbs off. There were 2 and sometimes 3 skidders bringing this machine trees. The skidders were working continuously, passing each other, picking up trees and dropping them off.  The workers were cutting trees as far North as the Met Tower.      South of here is where the blasting is taking place.



2 comments on “Saturday, October 22, 2011

  1. purslane says:

    Note that in Laforet’s piece, “New Hampshire’s Kirby Mountains” should be “Maine’s Kibby Mountain”. Earth First has also protested at Maine’s Record Hill. Keep up the heroic work! Occupy!

  2. Suze says:

    Someday, when people have learned the truth about the monumental ravages of Industrial Scale Wind Turbine Complexes, on Vermont ridgelines, they will profoundly regret for the rest of their lives that they did not know enough about this kind of wind technology…and they will wish that they had been among those who have been seeking out the actual facts from legitimate sources. They will regret that they did not stand among the protesters. Vermont has hundreds of times a greater Solar resource than Vermont’s paltry wind “resource”. VERMONT IS FIFTH FROM THE BOTTOM OF ALL OF THE STATES IN WIND RESOURCE!

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