Pipeline represents grand illusion
Kudos to Bruce Hiland for speaking truth to flummery and clearly stating the truth about Vermont Gas Systems’ machinations regarding its Addison-Rutland pipeline project (“Cornwall’s opposition to gas line,” Herald, Aug. 17).
The column should be required reading for everyone who is uncertain about the VGS plan to expand its coverage or who might be even marginally impacted by it.
Hiland makes a number of well-stated points, far too many to mention here, but two should be especially noted.
The first is that the VGS contract to carry natural gas to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga, N.Y., is a business arrangement, not a matter of public service. VGS has sought, in the face of strong protests, easements from private property owners along the route, and has suggested, none too subtly, that it is willing to declare the right of eminent domain as a means to obtaining those easements.
The question is, why, for the sake of a business-to-business contract — not a public service project — between a Canadian gas supplier and a New York paper mill run by a company headquartered in Tennessee, should any Vermont landowner be pressured into giving up land?
Second is what Hiland calls “happy talk” about all the promised benefits to the region. Hiland refers to VGS’ grand illusion as “a frothy mix of exaggerations based on questionable assumptions and optimistic projections.” If any alert consumer reading or listening to VGS’ dream talk were to apply the “if it sounds too good to be true” test, the clear answer coming back would be: “It is.”
It’s hardly surprising that the Public Service Board buys into VGS’ shtick. That group has never met a utility it didn’t climb into bed with. But for Rutland’s mayor, Board of Aldermen, business, commerce and development leaders, to be taken in by the smoke and mirrors, even after VGS pulled their bait-and-switch tactic, raising the price tag by 50 percent, is beyond reasonable belief. And judging by a cheerleading editorial (“The pipeline push,” Aug. 1), apparently even the editorial board of this newspaper believes the emperor is wearing clothes.
Anyone with a financial stake and/or a vote in the Rutland area should read Hiland’s piece, online at ww.rutlandherald.com under the “opinion” tab. VGS’ frothy mix of talk should be met with one syllable: “No.”
RICHARD L. BROWN