State Government

Climate Council holds BIPOC-only public hearing

Graphic credit

By Guy Page

Last week, the BIPOC Affinity Public Meeting for Vermont’s Climate Action Plan was cancelled because some non-BIPOC people had registered. Because the meeting organizers demanded BIPOC-only participation, the meeting was rescheduled last night.

The meeting was sponsored, publicized, and facilitated by the Vermont Climate Council, a state board empowered by the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) to recommend reductions in carbon emissions. The GWSA specifies addressing the climate change impacts on BIPOC Vermonters.

After a lengthy back-and-forth email conversation this week in which two state officials – including the Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources – strongly discouraged me from joining the meeting, I decided to attend anyway. As a longtime journalist, I said I believe that all government-sponsored meetings should be open to the press. And I said I oppose excluding anyone – press or not – from a government-sponsored meeting due to skin color. 

Editor’s opinion: What the state-sponsored public hearing organizers call a safe ‘affinity space,’ I call ‘discrimination.’ I do not doubt their sincere desire to right wrongs. I share it. But a cowering acceptance of government discrimination on the basis of race sets a poisonous precedent. It invites more of the same – or worse. On the morning he was deported from Russia, dissident Alexandr Solzhenitsyn exhorted his followers to “Live Not By Lies.” Whenever and wherever government dresses up explicit discrimination with a new name and a friendly face, we must call it out. When we let government condone evil in the name of Good Intentions, we pave the road for inevitable future abuses.

* * * * * * *

Last night’s Zoom meeting began at 6 pm. I joined at 6:04 by phone.

Vermont Climate Council consultant and meeting facilitator Kiah Morris began the meeting with the Land Acknowledgement – a statement something like the mirror image of the Pledge of Allegiance, in which the land of the State of Vermont is acknowledged as belonging to native Americans.

She also compared the “present day reality of migrant day farmworkers” to slavery. And she took pains to not leave Lake Champlain out of the Land Acknowledgement. She said she breaks out in rashes whenever she goes in the water, and that fish and shellfish are not safe to eat due to toxic chemicals.

Morris then restated the purpose of discouraging non-BIPOC people from participating: BIPOC Vermonters need an “affinity space” to express a perspective that “is not often welcome, that is not often acceptable.” Vermont has historically “not done a good job” with affirming BIPOC perspectives, and is not doing so now, either, she claimed.

“We are all losing if we do not all come together,” Morris said. “We must all honor each other in these spaces.”

Morris lamented the inability of some to “honor these spaces.” She claimed some people last week sought to join the meeting as “voyeurs and potentially to act as disrupters.”

I registered for the October 5 BIPOC-only public meeting that was cancelled last week. I don’t know if Ms. Morris was referring to me as a ‘voyeur’ or ‘potential disruptor.’ I do know that after last week’s cancellation, I had an email exchanges with Jane Lazorchak, the Director of the Global Warming Solutions Act, and Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources Julie Moore. They both were reluctant to have me participate. However, in the end they were unwilling to block my participation. I registered for last night’s meeting yesterday afternoon.

I joined the Zoom meeting by audio only, because my phone connection is less susceptible to disruption than my video internet connection. Several minutes into the call, the moderator asked me to identify myself. “Guy Page, Vermont Daily Chronicle,” I said.

Morris then stated ground rules for media coverage, including asking permission to use any information presented. “We ask you to do that outside of this space,” she added.

Morris then referred to the gathering as a “public meeting.” According to long-held understandings of freedom of speech and of the press, anything said at a government-sponsored public meeting is considered fair game for publication. Permission after the fact is not needed. Because of poor audio quality and having to leave the meeting a couple of times, I didn’t get many names. But I did get their many of their statements. The most relevant are published below.

Many of the concerns raised by the BIPOC-only attendees had little direct link to being BIPOC in Vermont.

One woman said Vermont could use more biogas energy. A Grand Isle resident said his flat, island county is prone to climate-related flash floods. “That costs us more money. We need to find a way to make our homes more flash-flood resilient.”

However, at least one explicit intersection between race and climate was mentioned. An indigenous Vermonter pointed to the historic injustices of Big Hydro in Canada, the source of about a quarter of Vermont’s electricity.

Canadian Hydro power is responsible for flooding indigenous people out of their ancestral lands, he said. He noted the irony: in the development of low-carbon power deemed necessary to limit future flooding caused by global warming, many indigenous peoples lost their homes to intentional, man-made flooding.

“North of the border there have been thousands of indigenous peoples who have become climate refugees due to flooding,” he said. He called for a moratorium on Big Hydro in the U.S. and Canada and it “needs to be replaced by a more ethical, more responsible source.”

Recommendations made last night will submitted for inclusion in the Council’s pending Action Plan. The next meeting of the full Climate Council is scheduled for November 9.

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Categories: State Government

18 replies »

  1. This meeting WAS & IS: ILLEGAL. UNCONSTITUTIONAL. RACIST & DISCRIMINATORY. I trust the group above shall be sued?

  2. tells you everything you need to know about Vermont Climate Council and state government. neither care about the well being of everyday Vermont citizens. they want to decide who will be winners and losers from their policies and will take steps to make sure things turn out that way. nobody wants to say that as time goes by people build in places that are open to issues and then complain when something happens

  3. Glad you “attended,” Guy, and I hope you won’t ask anyone’s permission to attend future such meetings nor beg to publish what you hear there. What arrogance Kiah exhibits everywhere she goes.

  4. Here is another example of Ms. Morris’s racist behaviors on display. It should surprise no one that she held a meeting which banned white people. Did you look into her unethical state contract worth several thousand dollars to run these meetings?

  5. “We are all losing if we do not all come together.” Except for the white people, who must stay out. Nonsensical. This meeting was also billed as being for people who “self-identify” as BIPOC, yet it seems the Climate Council gatekeepers are reserving the right to determine who is and isn’t BIPOC for themselves. Wich is it? They won’t say because in order for the state to say who is BIPOC and who isn’t, they’d have to create legal classifications for different races, which is of course state-sponsored racism. But, the SJWs can’t allow someone to self-identify as BIPOC. Just ask Rachel Dolezal. But, Morris has finagled a government paycheck to enforce these “rules.”

    • Your final sentence, Mr. Roper spotlights the crux of the problem. There are many that seek to gain from this carbon religion, in much the same way as algore and john kerry have for decades.

    • I’ve had a ruined life. My severe “neurodiversity” exposed me to state sponsored and practiced discrimination. Why should I not, at least, sound off about it?
      I saw early on that across-the-board, plain, simple EQUALITY is called for.

  6. Thank you Guy Page for having the perseverance and mental strength needed to cover the level of insanity that has infiltrated Vermont government . Policies not born on proven facts but on radical
    pseudo Marxist offshoots are now woven within Vermont dysfunctional legislative system. Morris is following the letter of the “BIPOC project “, please read the link The purpose of creating BIPOC only safe spaces is the opposite of the purpose of the DEI training ( diversity, equity. inclusion ) taught by force to Vermont employees a few months ago by social influencer Mirna Valerio. Vermont is sinking under the weight of irrationality . Being power hungry by wanting to control the right of the reporter to report is not gain Morris many acolytes in the long run . F for tactic .

    • In regard to winning new acolytes, Ms. Morris would benefit by listening to Randall Kennedy, a Black man and Harvard Law professor who has written extensively about racism. The other day on NPR, Professor Kennedy indicated that name calling and aggressive behavior by Black activists might please existing allies, but it does nothing to gain the support of others in society who are important in building broader base of influence.

      Calling people voyeurs is not the way make friends and influence people.

  7. The Climate Council was appointed unconstitutionally,there was no public input,therefore their power is null and void!!And, The BIPOC scheme is Racist and proven by the fact they talk only of one side and in a racist way,leaves the public out?This in no way should be tolerated,and in fact we do not and should not comply with anything they put forth

  8. The only examples of mistreatment of BIPOC people’s which have been publicized are absurd upon analysis. This isn’t Alabama, it is Vermont. People virtually never cede land and Native Americans displaced each other continuously. That is the nature of history.
    There is no right for anyone to conceal anything that was done or said in this meeting.

    • Indeed. Many Native American tribes were war-like and bloodthirsty. They murdered, raped. pillaged, burned, and that Hollywood whitewashed fairy-tale of a propaganda film, Dances With Wolves, was a preview of countless PC historical revisionisms, including Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. His meager piece made the entire Christian knighthood out to be the SS. Every lucid fact was out of context and/or canceled. Before Islam plundered and enslaved the Middle East starting in the early 7th Century, North Africa &Greater Syria (The Levant, Jerusalem, Palestine) were for centuries peacefully populated by pagans, Jews and Christians. To the aforementioned infidel, Islam brought Jihad and chains.

  9. Much as the left loves the tactic of associating right-wing causes with “white supremacy”, events and issues like this exemplify that it is the left who are the real racists and dividers of our society, and always have been. Will someone with the legal standing PLEASE file a lawsuit against this Kiah Morris for her violating of public accommodation laws.

  10. Ms. Morris threatened bogus racial lawsuits to squeeze Bennington for $137,000 and now she benefits from sitting on the Just Transitions committee to the tune of $25,000 in state funds. Ms. Lavochak of the GWSA worked with ANR lawyers to rig the process for this contract. Follow the breadcrumbs. In essence, Ms. Morris has the ANR’s blessing to hold state meetings that exclude white people. Are you listening, Guy Page? Rob Roper?