NEWPORT CITY, VT - The six protesters arrested on Lowell Mountain Monday, Dec. 5 all entered not guilty pleas to charges of unlawful trespass yesterday in Orleans Superior Court, Criminal Division.
The defendants are Dr. Ronald Holland, 67, of Irasburg; Suzanna Jones, 50 of East Hardwick; Eric Wallace-Senft of Woodbury; Ryan Gillard, 23, of Plainfield; Ann Morse, 48, of Craftsbury; and David Rodgers, 69, of Craftsbury. They appeared with their attorney, Kristina Michelsen.
Chris Braithwaite, the publisher of the Barton Chronicle who was covering the protest and who was also arrested for trespass, also entered a not guilty plea.
Judge Robert Gerety, Jr. released all of the defendants on the condition that they appear in court for upcoming hearings.
The protesters had blocked the crane path where Green Mountain Power (GMP) is constructing an industrial size wind turbine project.
Prior to the arraignment, supporters gathered in front of the courthouse and held signs that read “Stop Destroying Vermont” and “Detour to Honest Energy Policy.”
Following the hearing, the Mountain Occupation group held a press conference with about 50 in attendance. Each defendant spoke about the reasons for his or her actions and some said they will go back to the site and would risk arrest again.
Ron Holland, a physician practicing at North Country Hospital and a member of the local school board, said he has specific reasons for why he is taking action. He said the Vermont Public Service Board failed to take into account the environmental costs when assessing the project. “Although the board is required to include the environmental costs of any project in its analysis, in this case the value of preserving an intact ecologically sensitive mountain forest and mountain system was determined to be worthless. This is a tragedy for our state and the future of our environment.”
He also brought up whether or not GMP has legal rights to use the property.
The land where the protesters stood is on disputed property.
Several of the protesters say that the regulatory commission is serving corporate interests rather than the citizens and the environmental damage in constructing the project is severe.