US Energy Secretary Faces Pipeline Protesters

Published 05/16 2014 05:50PM

Updated 05/16 2014 06:26PM

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - The U.S. Energy Secretary visited Middlebury College Friday for a scheduled energy summit. He soon learned just what people think about the area's most controversial project.

Opponents of the Addison-Rutland County gas pipeline lashed out at the end of the summit. They were frustrated that Vermont's Congressional delegation, and Governor Peter Shumlin, refused to answer questions about the project.

"If you're concerned about reducing greenhouse gases, then you should be speaking out against this International Paper fracked gas pipeline,” a Charlotte woman said to the panel.

Visiting U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz did address the use of natural gas, however.

"In the near term, it’s undeniable, it’s a fact, that the natural gas substitute for coal has been almost half of our national carbon reduction over the past several years,” he said of the nation’s recently dropping carbon dioxide emissions.

He also touted the economic benefits of gas.

"Gas has contributed to a substantial manufacturing revival. Over a hundred billion dollars invested in new manufacturing,” he added.

Before the pipeline backlash, most of the summit focused on renewables in the Green Mountain State, including solar. The number of panels has quadrupled in the past three and a half years. Towns like Waterbury and Duxbury have been especially receptive to the sun.

"We want to move forward, and we see clean energy as a way to increase our jobs, and have energy security in our town," Jamison Ervin said. She’s part of Waterbury LEAP, an energy action committee.

Following the public forum at Middlebury College, where the first environmental studies program was established more than fifty years ago, the delegation headed to Rutland County to view weatherization in action.

"We are in the process of weatherizing approximately a thousand homes, substantially cutting green house gas emissions, saving working families money on fuel bills, and creating jobs," Senator Bernie Sanders said.

The Independent hopes, with projects like this, Vermont can be a model for other states.

The entire delegation, in addition to the Governor, also reiterated the need for America to stop debating climate change, and instead start taking action to fight it.

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