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Don Keelan: Is the Vermont conflict of interest standard a thing of the past?

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This commentary is from Don Keelan, a retired public accountant and Arlington resident.

Jared Duval is not a household name in Vermont. Yet he is well known in the field of climate change, as the executive director of the Montpellier-based non-profit Energy Action Network.

Those who may not be familiar with this nine year old organization with $ 700,000 in assets may want to become. The organization’s mission, as stated in its Form 990 filed in 2020, is: “EAN strives to achieve Vermont’s total 90% renewable energy commitment by 2050 and dramatically reduce emissions. greenhouse gas emissions in ways that create a more just, prosperous and sustainable future for Vermonters.

No problem; its mission is not unlike that of other nonprofits in Vermont.

The problem is that Mr. Duval, who is one of 23 members of the Vermont Climate Council, has taken it upon himself to voice in the Vermont media his views on why Vermont should move away from fossil fuels. It is not clear whether the views expressed are solely those of Mr. Duval or those of the Vermont Climate Council.

The legislature created the climate council under the Global Warming Solutions Act (overriding Governor Scott’s veto) and is responsible for providing, by December 1, 2021, its recommendations to reduce greenhouse gases in the country. Vermont by 26% in 2025 from where they were in 2005.

I find it unusual for a member of a state government committee to publish his views in the Vermont media on issues currently being studied, analyzed and debated by the committee on which he sits. What’s more disturbing is that the author is employed by an organization that is almost 100% committed to electrifying all of Vermont and eliminating fossil fuels.

It is as if the Vermont Climate Council has become a thug. Last June, I commented on another member of the climate board. Ms. Danielle Bombardier published her views in the Vermont media, suggesting that when Vermonters tamper with their homes, which might as well be mandatory, the use of union labor is strongly encouraged. Ms. Bombardier is the Secretary / Treasurer of the AFL / CIO of Vermont.

The worst part is that Mr. Duval’s words border on inaccuracy and falsehood. Duval does a show that every year the people of Vermont send $ 1.5 billion out of state to buy the fossil fuels we consume. According to Duval, this will no longer be the case when we go all-electric or use wood pellets for heating.

Mr. Duval also notes that we are dealing with Saudi Arabia and Russia to import fossil fuels, countries which “violate human rights and undermine democracy”. He never mentions (recently noted in the Wall Street Journal) that President Biden is begging OPEC + to increase its oil production. It also does not say that before January 20, 2021, the United States was on the verge of being the world’s largest oil exporter. Since then, in Arlington, Vermont, 87% octane gasoline has dropped from $ 2.19 per gallon to $ 3.33.

Mr. Duvel also does not disclose that a significant portion of the electricity that Green Mountain Power (a Canadian company) imports comes from Canada. And to further meet anticipated electricity demand, Vermont dollars will be sent north of the border or to Seabrook, NH.

Mr. Duval should do what I did: talk to Vermont’s leading wood pellet expert. If he had, he would discover that there is only one plant in Vermont that manufactures wood pellets and its annual production is limited. Also, as I discovered, most of the pellets currently in use in Vermont “come from Canada, New England and New York and maybe 20% from outside that region.” So much for converting to wood pellet appliances and saving dollars in Vermont.

Mr. Duval firmly believes that the state motto “Liberty and Unity” applies to the achievement of the state’s 2050 goal. This could be possible if education, reasonableness, common sense and truthfulness are at the forefront.

It’s time to recognize Duval’s conflict of interest. Otherwise, when the Vermont Climate Council report comes out on December 1, it will mark the day Vermont became not a united state, but a divided state.


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