Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vermont Environmental News, October 21, 2010

Sustainable food |
Last week, Walmart trumpeted a major new commitment to sustainable agriculture and supporting local small farms. Coupled with the enormous numbers -- training for 1 million farmers! Investing $1 billion to make its produce supply chain more efficient! -- there were nuggets of common-sense wisdom, the kind that is music to sustainability advocates' ears

Reading further, we got to an impressive commitment to sell a billion dollars worth of food bought from small farmers. And, as if to keep the big numbers rolling, the release also boasted that that produce will come from a million farms. Great! But wait ... a billion dollars, a million farms: That comes out to $1,000 per farm. And so we started to wonder if there was really much good to be had from this policy.

Salon spoke to Linda Berlin, Director of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Vermont, to get some perspective on Walmart's efforts.
Vermont solar projects cross party lines | The Burlington Free Press
In a field just outside Vergennes, where cows used to graze, steel brackets are sprouting up. Soon, those steel foundations will be covered by some 4,000 solar panels, arched toward the sky to soak up enough sun to produce a megawatt of power.

Once, Burlington developer Ernie Pomerleau thought he might build a shopping center here. It doesn’t have access to sewer lines, however, so the shopping center went across the road, and Pomerleau’s held on onto the property for 20 years. Now, it represents Pomerleau’s newest business venture: selling renewable energy. (Disclosure: SDRS represents the developers mentioned in the article.)
Vt. utilities agree to buy wind power from NH |
Vermont's two largest electric utilities say they've signed contracts to buy power from a wind-power project in northern New Hampshire.

Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power say they signed contracts to buy electricity from Noble Environmental Power's planned 99-megawatt Granite Reliable Power Windpark in Coos County, N.H.
Energy efficiency costs, budget to increase in Vt. |
The budget and costs to ratepayers for Vermont's statewide energy efficiency program are going up.

Vermont ratepayers pay a tax of a bit less than a penny per kilowatt-hour on their electric bills to support power-saving programs administered by Efficiency Vermont. For residential ratepayers, the tax is going up on Feb. 1 from about seven-tenths of a cent to about nine-tenths of a cent.
I Believe: 'Environmental education needs to take students beyond the classroom — and Vermont' | The Burlington Free Press
I believe environmental education in Vermont needs to take students out into the Northern forests, the farms, Lake Champlain and our rivers and streams, our watershed and then beyond.

Travelling students and instructors can come back with a clearer vision of our own place, Vermont, as well as a direct connection to the global community that is affected by our habits of consumption.