Energy

Vermont Dems Just Nominated A Hardcore Enviromentalist For Governor

(REUTERS/David Gray)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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State Transportation Sec. Sue Minter won the Democratic nomination for governor of Vermont late Tuesday, after winning support from the state’s most prominent environmentalist and the wind power industry.

Minter won the nomination with 51 percent of the vote, beating rival former state Sen. Matt Dunne. Dunne only garnered 38 percent of the vote. Minter will face off against Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott in the November general election.

The wind power industry supported Minter by linked Super PACs buying $120,000 worth of ads supporting her campaign after Dunne announced he supported local bans on wind turbines. Minter also won the support of environmentalist Bill McKibben, who founded the group 350.org. McKibben initially supported Dunne, but switched his support to Minter after Dunne clarified his position on local control over wind power.

“If a town says no to a large industrial wind project I would use all the power of the governor’s office to ensure that is the end of the project,” Dunne said in a statement in late July. “I will ensure that no means no.”

When asked by local Vermont newspaper Seven Days about the wind industry’s involvement in Minter’s bid for the nomination, her campaign manager avoided the question.

Vermont’s environmentalists, many of whom oppose even green development, largely supported Dunne. Major environmental groups like the Center For Biological Diversity have a long history of pursuing legal action against “green” development, like wind turbines or solar farms, which it believes encroach on animal habitats and kill tens of thousands of birds.

One of most common complaints about wind turbines by local residents is that they cause “flickering” when the sun is behind their blades. This is generally agreed to be incredibly annoying and there’s evidence that it can cause headaches, sleep disorders and anxiety and depression symptoms in people who live nearby.

Environmentalists are already concerned about how solar panels, wind turbines and the batteries required to back them up use materials like cobalt, nickel, molybdenum, and highly purified silicon. All of these materials must be mined, refined and manufactured. The industrial processes required to build solar panels and wind turbines could also potentially contaminate the environment.

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