Sustainability record needs second look

To the editor:

Ken Sloane’s letter in support of four candidates deserves a swift rebuttal.

“Sustainability” does not refer merely to “environmentally conscious” activity; rather it refers to actions taken both with immediate environmental impacts in mind, and with reference to analyses of the long-term practicality and environmental effects of those decisions and their implementations.

Scott Broadwell, Ronnie Rimbert, and Sharon Soucy indeed “participated in” councils that produced an enviable record on sustainability. But that record was often achieved in spite of their votes, not because of them. The city council vote was unanimous in favor of some of the initiatives Mr. Sloane cited; but if anyone voted against the “sustainable” position on others, it was one, two, or all three of these individuals.

All three voted against getting out of the 40-year contract for the proposed AMPGS coal-fired power plant in February 2008. We have been told repeatedly that Oberlin would never have been invited to be part of the Clinton Climate Initiative, had we not repudiated the highly unsustainable measure adopted five months earlier. If Mr. Broadwell or Mr. Rimbert had been committed to sustainability in the first place, city council would have rejected the contract outright when it was under consideration in the summer and fall of 2007. Thereafter, in 2008-2009, all three fought against, tried to stall the quest for green power.

There is nothing at all sustainable about the “stranded costs” being borne by communities that did not get out of this project (may we call a boondoggle a boondoggle?) — before it collapsed in an ignominious heap of finger-pointing and litigation immediately after the 2009 election. For the privilege of receiving zero electrons from its contract for a 13- or nine-megawatt share, the cost to Oberlin ratepayers would have been in excess of $2 million on the low end and $4 million on the high end.

Mr. Sloane is entitled to his own opinions about certain candidates, but he’s not entitled to his own facts. Broadwell, Rimbert, and Soucy were on the wrong side of sustainability in February 2008 and on the wrong side of history since.

David E. Sonner

David R. Ashenhurst