I was disappointed at the clear bias of the recent article about the selectboard’s vote to appeal Judge Sessions’ ruling pertaining to the hazmat ordinance.
The article was full of pointed inaccuracies: Brian Shupe, executive director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, the organization which stepped forward with funding for the appeal is NOT a Shelburne resident! This inaccuracy goes beyond sloppy reporting. It is easy to look on the VNRC website, or Whitepages.com to fact-check he’s from Waitsfield. Spreading the faux news of him being a town resident sullies the VNRC’s grant as funding from an interested party.
He furthered this by calling the funding “private money.” It is not. It is a mission-based grant assisting the effort to protect delicate wetlands which VNRC is actively protecting. VNRC is a highly respected 501c3 public charity. Their support of the appeal effort is both significant and relevant.
Mr. Donoghue’s clear and continuing bias showed strongly in his “reporting.” Other inaccuracies: The railroad did not undergo “extensive permitting.” It needed a wastewater and multi-sector general operating permit – two rubber-stamped permits with zero regulatory teeth. They did not “skip” local permitting. Pre-emption meant that they need not apply.
He also stated that the town attorney did not return after executive session. That is patently untrue. She was seated in the audience when the meeting reopened. Why the untruths? Mr. Donoghue’s bias against the town’s position.
I am most grateful for the selectboard’s vote to appeal. The specter of the high and likely rising pollution of the groundwater and river are of utmost concern. These are the source of not only our, but the entire Champlain Water District’s, drinking water. The presence of chemicals that are toxic to wildlife and destructive to infrastructure is unacceptable. If the wetland is destroyed, so is the bay’s filtration system, as well as our flood barrier. The Vermont Rail System/Barrett Trucking facility is far from “state of the art” as they claim. Their retention pond is a joke! It is a 5-foot-deep UNLINED pit that “hit impenetrable clay.” Was it tested?! Is there data proving it “impenetrable?” The data collected by VRS employed environmental engineers shows precisely the opposite. Chlorides measured over 5 times the legal level. A big ol’ cost cut – putting our ecosystem in peril!! Nothing is stopping the seepage and no state agency is enforcing the law. (It should be apparent that the argument calling the hazmat ordinance unnecessary because state regulations cover it, is flawed.)
The town’s rightful effort to police the materials stored along the banks of the river adjacent to three residential neighborhoods and two elementary/middle schools and the source of our drinking water is correct and reasonable. Sessions’ ruling eviscerates the town’s police powers in favor of railroad profits in a gross overreach removing the one area of protection afforded populaces under federal preemption: police powers to protect the health and welfare of their residents. Profit over The People. Wrong and disgusting, and all too reflective of where our country as a whole appears to be headed.
Elise Dietrich Seraus