• September 28,2013

    Turning a blind eye

    What did last week’s article, “Vt. Gas agrees to avoid natural areas,” really mean? The proposed fracked gas pipeline extension would not avoid natural areas. In fact, if built it would cross seven ecologically significant natural areas through Chittenden and Addison counties.

    After reaching an agreement with the state officials, Vermont Gas’ solution to mitigate the impacts of this pipeline is to drill four miles of the pipeline beneath “sensitive areas and bodies of waters,” potentially including a sand plain forest, a cedar swamp, rivers and streams, all with the eventual intent of running the pipe under Lake Champlain. Tucking the pipeline out of sight does little to diminish the larger-scale “natural area” concerns that this flawed proposal raises.

    This pipeline is only up for consideration in order to transport natural gas to this region. The article fails to mention that the gas itself would come from Alberta, Canada, where it is obtained through hydraulic fracturing that is water, energy, and chemically intensive.

    Fracking is a process that emits harmful greenhouse gases like methane during drilling and leaves behind hazardous wastes that threaten groundwater reservoirs. It is a process that has already been banned in Vermont because of the risks that it poses to our environment and well-being.

    Vermont Gas is certainly hoping to avoid something, but it isn’t environmental harm; it’s the criticism that comes with locking Vermont into long-term fossil fuel dependency and a toxic technology that has already been banned here. It’s easy being green if you are willing to turn a blind eye.

    Robert Gandolfi


    Defending Napoleon

    At this late date it may seem odd to be coming to the defense of Napoleon Bonaparte. However, as your Sept. 25 editorial points out, the British celebration of the 200th anniversary of his defeat at Waterloo is not being universally applauded.

    Those who hated and feared Napoleon and who orchestrated his ultimate defeat were largely the monarchs and hereditary aristocracy whose power he opposed. They mocked him and called him an “upstart” and “usurper,” much in the way the “university wits” of the 1500s had disparaged William Shakespeare, a man of questionable family background far removed from the establishment halls of Oxford and Cambridge.

    Napoleon uprooted the hereditary aristocrats, and was largely responsible for democratic reforms that remain in place to this day in much of Europe. In France, the Civil Code which he ushered into law establishes equality of all before the law, employment based on merit rather than on family, marriage as a civil union rather than a religious institution, and many other reforms. His administration also established environmental protection as a government priority along with universal religious freedom and support for excellence in education.

    Like several American presidents, Napoleon was a mathematician by training and inclination. Significantly, it’s a field that embraces clear thinking and demonstrable truth, no matter who or where it comes from. He presented original theorems, and he numbered among his friends, the great mathematician Pierre Simon Laplace, and other contributors to probability analysis, number theory, calculus, and other areas.

    Though he certainly had his faults, he was not insensitive to the death and suffering attendant on his military campaigns. “True victories,” he once said, “those that leave no regret, are those made over ignorance.”

    The British, as wonderfully productive as they have been, still cling to their silly aristocrats and class snobberies. They may celebrate Waterloo, but Napoleon’s great achievements live on.

    Andy Leader

    North Middlesex

    No difference being made

    The most recent drug sweep in Bennington is DOA and just plain wrong-headed. The sweep searched and found a bunch of people, and then the court let them go. No one was retained in jail by the court, and no bail was posted. Hello out there, is this really worth it?

    But, they did name the people rounded up and arrested and herded like cattle to the police department and court. Then they disclosed personal information about them, like where they live, children, if they are homeless, etc. This is for people not convicted of anything and for so-called crimes like, “possession of a controlled substance,” whatever that may be. It could be a couple of joints or maybe some baby aspirin.

    Is this going to fix the crime rate in Vermont? Sorry, guys, it isn’t happening. You have to do more than arrest and drag into court a bunch of drug addicts and potheads to fix those problems. Nailing drug-addicted people who are homeless and strung out on drugs is the backward approach to the problem. Do these people need drug rehab? Yes, they do. Are they cooperative? No, they are not. Does arresting them help? No, it does not.

    Next we’ll hear about how crowded our jails are. Providing mandated drug rehab and halfway houses would help. That’s a whole lot cheaper than jail, more effective and humane. Abandoned dogs and cats are treated better. Does anybody conducting these drug sweeps really care? I think not.

    Thomas King


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