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It’s true. I am not proud of the fact, but there it is. He could sell a book to a blind man. He was really good. In his defense, for most of his life he sold Oldsmobiles….one of the oldest brand of cars in the world….cars he said he truly believed in.

I did not inherit my father’s gift. But growing up under the same roof, I had the opportunity to observe how he worked…how he could turn a person’s mind to believe they needed what he was selling them. So now I pride myself with being able to see through marketing schemes. As I listen to the radio, (I don’t watch TV…too many commercials!) I resist the attempts by ads to make me buy a product, or believe a claim. But I have to admit that I am susceptible to the more subtle…almost subliminal techniques…as I think we all are.

I think Vermont Gas is in the process of pulling off a really big pitch here. And I almost went along with it! Their logo is innocent and benign. Their website is hip, slick and cool and their home page has kids on it….happy kids with cute little boots on! How could they be a bad company?

The most obvious veil of deceit is their name. They are not a Vermont Company and they don’t sell a Vermont product. They are part of a foreign company and they are selling us foreign gas that comes from over 3000 miles away.

The misnomer of “natural gas” is another guise. The gas they are selling is not, by any means, natural. It is a poison mixture of many gases trapped thousands of feet below the earth’s surface and the process of extracting and cleaning it up for resale is elaborate, expensive and controversial.

Then comes the next descriptive term often associated with “natural” gas. CLEAN. OK…it burns cleaner than oil and coal, but that is a partial truth. The extraction process, the means of transport (think leakage), and the refining of the gas all cause major harm to the earth and it’s air… much or more so than coal and oil.

Now Vermont Gas Systems is suggesting Vermont accept the installation of a pipeline through our rural countryside. They are bringing out the big guns now…as this could be a hard one for the people to swallow. How do you make a landowner host your industrial pipeline when they stand to gain absolutely nothing from your plan? First, you ignore the naysayers and focus on the folks who are still listening. You dangle a carrot in front of their noses. You promise “CHEAP, CLEAN, NATURAL” gas delivered right to the doorstep of a local employer. (but not to the landowners) You downplay the environmental and financial impacts to landowners. You appeal to the kind-hearted people who want to help out their neighbors. You tell half -truths and you lie…yes, folks…you lie. When you encounter resistance, you use the “divide and conquer” technique. You pit neighbor against neighbor and you keep pouring money into your campaign until the strongest opposition gets tired, runs out of money or both. You “convince” politicians to support your plan using all of the above methods. And most of all, you hold that mighty club of EMINENT DOMAIN above your head as you smile and negotiate the easements on YOUR TERMS.

The oil and gas industry is happy to keep us hooked on their products. This push to lay more pipeline is an attempt to increase demand in a market where they control production. Does your high school economics class come back to you? The law of supply and demand? Unnatural gas prices are at historic lows now. Companies have scaled back drilling to ease the glut of gas flooding the market. They are manipulating the market! Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. These folks are high class drug pushers only the drugs they are trying to keep us hooked on are gas and oil. Does it make sense to switch to crack cocaine from heroin just because it is cheaper and you can get it delivered?

I believe there are more sinister reasons why alternative energy technologies are lagging. I remember when a computer capable of performing complicated tasks took up a large room. Now you can hold it in your hand. Today I see wind generators and vast fields of solar collectors sprouting up here and there. Tomorrow I see those fields shrinking and becoming small fixtures on rooftops and vehicles. Sustainable energy technology will come…if it is driven by the right economic climate. This pipeline will not help things along.

So, snap out of it, Vermont! We don’t need this gas guzzling grampa car…uh, I mean gas pipeline!

 Nat and Jane Palmer





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