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Banning Fracking & Pellet Backing

A couple of weeks ago, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed legislation that banned fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, for natural gas.
By Anna Simet | June 05, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed legislation that banned fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, for natural gas.

Impressively, it’s the first state to do so.

My first reaction to this news was positive, as I’ve read and heard that fracking can pose some serious environmental and health hazards. But then I began to wonder, does Vermont even have any natural gas?

So I did a little research and it seems like there isn’t even any exploration going on. One blog I came across compared the move to “outlawing snow skiing in Florida.” While that may be a stretch of a comparison, I came to the conclusion that perhaps it was more of a symbolic gesture than a preventative measure.

I say this because along with the fracking ban, Shumlin expanded the state’s CLEAN Program cap, otherwise known as Standard Offer Program, from 50 MW to 127.5 MW, called for the development of voluntary harvesting guidelines that may be used by private landowners to help ensure long-term forest health, and authorized a biomass energy demonstration project to be implemented in Chittenden County by the Biomass Energy Co-op Corp., to explore and showcase the development of community-supported wood harvest and pellet production in Vermont. 

I’ll have to make a note to check in on the pellet project and let you know how it’s panning out.

Anyway, all of the aforementioned are good for the wood pellet and biomass power industries in the state, but I know many were disappointed that the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) component was stripped from the bill prior to passage. It does, however, require the Public Service Board to further study an RPS, including consideration of a system that rewards efficiency.

Trying to look on the bright side, that’s better than nothing, right? Vermont may not have an RPS quite yet, but it’s a lot further ahead than many other states in transitioning toward clean and renewable energy, especially in light of these new initiatives.