In The News
June 29, 2022
Seven Days -- Not All Heroes Wear Capes: The 2022 Primary Election Voters' Guide
The Seven Days Primary Election Guide is big (35 MB) and a bit difficult to find online. Here are my full answers to questions asked in the guide:
What is your occupation and most recent office held?
Most recently, I am a househusband and sailing instructor, with a background in physics, computer science (UVM, BS and MS), energy project development, transportation and land-use advocacy. I was a Selectboard member in Underhill, and I held various appointed positions in Essex, Jericho, and Underhill.
Why are you running?
Political rhetoric in Vermont has converged. Blue team and red team politicians are playing a fierce ping-pong game over small differences and frequently just lose the ball… accomplishing nothing. They claim to be addressing the housing crisis, the climate crisis, and the so-called “demographic crisis”— among other crises. At best, they are pouring once-in-a-century money onto a business-as-usual fire. They are missing underlying patterns and problems that connect the many crisis symptoms. Red team and blue team are avoiding difficult issues. But we must identify and talk about those issues, and we need to do it right now — consumption is chief among them. Consumption links all of these crises and the war in Ukraine.
Vermont donated $1 per Vermonter to humanitarian aid for Ukraine, which was nice, but has Vermont done anything to reduce fuel consumption in this moment of war and high prices? Every time we consume petroleum, whether for motor vehicles, heating homes, making fertilizer — or making snow — we contribute to the global demand for fossil fuels. That demand drives up the price of oil and methane. It empties Vermonters’ pockets and it puts money in Putin’s pocket while funding the Russian war effort.
Let’s not forget that this is a food disaster and a refugee crisis, too.
We Vermonters could be doing a lot to cut back on consumption, and we should do that even if the only motivation is to have a more effective economy that is competitive with other states. But I think Vermonters have more noble motivations and want to do the right thing for Ukraine, for our kids and future generations, and for Earth’s fragile biosphere. It’s the only biosphere, and maybe we should call ourselves “planetary biofilm” as a reminder of exactly how tiny our habitable place in the universe is.
If I were governor right now, I would be working overtime to find ways for Vermont to organize Vermonters to conserve resources and grow food. We already did it at the beginning of the pandemic, with open streets, remote work, learning pods, and a shift toward outdoor recreation. We can do that again, smarter (for example, real-time electricity pricing and real-time carpooling) and more deliberately, drawing lessons on effective, low-energy ways of living from around the world.
I am running as a fusion candidate (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_fusion), a Vermont tradition. Jim Douglas and David Zuckerman are two recent examples. Voters can write-in “Peter Duval” on any ballot for governor (and for any other office, BTW). Or, do double service to your state by choosing the Republican ballot and checking “Peter Duval” for governor, helping that party return to its Aiken/Davis/Snelling tradition.
Name 3 accomplishments that qualify you for the office you're seeking. (60 words or less)
(1) I successfully lobbied Vermont Electric Coop’s board to reject the Vermont Joint Owners contract with Hydro-Québec. As I recall, it was the only utility to make this decision without the public pressure of a membership vote or municipal election. And it was the only utility to grow larger, acquiring Citizens Utilities, which had made the mistake of participating in the contract.
(2) I helped Colchester voters realize that not only would the Circumferential Highway damage the Malletts Bay Area and its sandplain, but that it was a loser of a transportation project — like all ring roads. Colchester voters successfully terminated the project west of I-89, which was the death knell for the rest of the project. The last remnant of the 1950s freeway scheme, the Southern Connector (now renamed Champlain Parkway and Railyard Enterprise Project) is likewise counterproductive and should never be completed.
(3) As the minority voice on the Essex Junction Educational Center Facilities Committee, I convinced the board that the Technical Center should remain on campus with the High School. This allowed students full access to all classes, without having to ride buses between sites. This is a current issue for Burlington High School.
Name a Vermonter past or present who inspires you and tell us why. (50 words or less)
Ralph Flanders, because there are too many living Vermonters to name, and he was an engineer-politician with firm positions who brought forth the censure of Joe McCarthy.
July 14, 2022
Town Meeting TV -- Republican Governor Primary Candidate Forum with Meghan O'Rourke
Fusion campaign, pensions, intergenerational equity, prop 2, prop 5, term lengths, professionalized legislature, war in Ukraine, conservation versus efficiency, global ecological problem, mega hydro and biomass, and the probability of running as an independent candidate in the general election are discussed.
August 2, 2022
Brattleboro Reformer -- Elections 2022 | Candidate Profile: Peter Duval
This is the long version (561 words), written before the word limit was applied. I shaved it to 470 words, and then it was disassembled to a question by question format. Read the result at reformer.com:
Red & Blue teams play ping pong for political power using the same rhetoric: ‘climate crisis’, ‘housing crisis’, ‘demographic crisis’, etc. And both teams lose the ball. It’s no surprise because Red & Blue chase the same swing voters, telling them whatever they want to hear. Vermont needs to break out of that echo chamber and think differently about its problems and opportunities.
The PeterForVermont.Earth campaign addresses the issues by finding underlying problems and connections. For example, our consumption connects many of our ‘crises’ to the war in Ukraine. Every time Vermonters fill up a fuel tank (car, home, or farm), our demand for oil pushes up its price, affecting all global commodities. That puts money in Putin’s pocket. We could be doing less to prop up Russia’s war machine while improving our own situation in the process. Through coordinated conservation, we can reduce fossil fuel use. I would lead the state government to make that effort, with every department helping Vermonters to conserve energy and resource, right now. We demonstrated, at the beginning of the pandemic, that we can make big changes.
My policy and project experience in transportation, land use, and energy is good preparation for the necessary change as Vermont confronts simultaneous problems. Computer scientists deal with complicated and complex challenges every day, and that training means I will look for simple, comprehensive solutions to seemingly isolated problems; livable wage, grade 13, and parent stipend have good potential to resolve multiple issues now, not in ten years.
As a sailor and househusband, I have encountered many potentially dangerous situations (perhaps someone falls off a boat at dusk). Navigating risks and rewards requires anticipating contingencies and adapting to the moment – solo, with kids, or with a crew.
Open primary voting is a Vermont tradition that needs exercise to be meaningful. With open primaries, the PeterForVermont.Earth fusion campaign seeks write-in votes – “Peter Duval” for Governor – on all primary ballots. And for voters who care most about our environment, choosing to write-in “Peter Duval” for Governor on the Progressive Party ballot is an effective vote to keep Earth front and center in Vermont politics.
Vermont’s billboard ban is another tradition that needs to be refreshed. I will begin by pledging to never, ever print lawn signs. They are haphazard visual blight and hazardous roadside distractions. It seems that every candidate illegally places signs in the road right of way, even though the Secretary of Transportation reminds them not to, early in every election cycle. [10VSA495(d)] I would work to restore respect for Vermont’s Sign Law.
Half of the Earth, including half of Vermont, needs to be restored to wilderness. I didn’t decide that; smart people who know ecosystems — like E.O. Wilson — decided that. Everyone who visits the west coast of Vermont looks across Lake Champlain at one of the best examples of wilderness restoration on the planet, Adirondack Park. As a politician, it’s my job to make that happen in Vermont. Fortunately, that is also the way toward a sustainable, steady economy. And it would help reestablish Vermonters’ right to roam on foot, termed ‘hunt and fowl’ in Vermont’s 1777 constitution, a tradition that predates settlement and reflects Vermonters’ understanding of the importance of the natural environment.
Of all the Vermont traditions, ‘inhabitant’ suffrage may be the most important. On August 9 and November 8, exercise that tradition. Vote!
September 21, 2022
Town Meeting TV -- Governor Candidate Forum with Mark Johnson
Election integrity, education finance, New Burlington High School and building codes, pollution and the global ecological problem were discussed.
Next time, my answer to Hoyt is: I am confident in Vermont's election system. I am not here to defend others against your allegations of corruption. That's not a matter for political campaigns.
September 27, 2022
Seven Days -- Time to Choose: The 2022 Election Guide
The Seven Days 2022 Election Guide is a big (33MB) file and a bit difficult to find online. Here are my full answers to questions asked in the guide:
How will you help make childcare more accessible and affordable for working families? (50 words or less)
I received a lot of correspondence from providers about a broken system. Vermont should look at a universal stipend for parents, which would probably reduce demand for expensive, labor-intensive infant care while encouraging parent-child bonding. A livable minimum wage would help resolve low pay for early childhood education and improve working conditions and participation across the entire economy.
How will you help Vermonters cope with inflation? (50 words or less)
Inflation is driven largely by fossil fuel energy prices – functions of supply and demand. We don't have much influence on the supply of fossil fuels, but Vermonters can do something about demand. Vermont can organize conservation with a short workweek, real-time ridesharing, fleet reduction, infrastructure diet, and rethinking housing.
Vermonters have been soaked with a message of "efficiency," but Jevons Pardox (bonpote|NewYorker|Frontiers) shows us that efficiency tends to increase consumption. And if it doesn't increase consumption within a particular sector, it happens as substitute consumption elsewhere. Conservation, not efficiency, cuts costs and emissions. Conservation can do this quickly, much quicker than efficiency efforts could hope. Whatever happens with prices, Vermonters win as conservation reduces expenses by reducing consumption.
What actions are you taking in your own life to reduce your carbon footprint? (50 words or less)
I minimize driving my Honda Gen 1 Insight, which -- more than two decades after its introduction -- is still the most efficient fossil-fueled car produced for the US market. With careful driving in good conditions, 75mpg or better fuel economy is commonly reported. I have driven the car approximately 5000mi/yr since buying it in 2015. I estimate that it emits about 0.8 metric tonnes of CO2equivalent emissions per year – That's 0.8 tonnes too much, and it is just accounting for the fuel burned in the car. There are other emissions that are not accounted for: fuel production and distribution, insurance, fees, tires, parking, and of course, the manufacture of the vehicle, which is reported to have been about $60k total cost in 2000. When all of that is taken into consideration, it's clear that a car is a car no matter how far it can go on a gallon of gas. A car requires roads that require construction and maintenance; it crashes; it kills; it maims. Private cars are a social and environmental dead end. It will be much easier to abandon cars if Vermonters do it together and all at once.
An EnergyStar cool roof is installed on my home. It is a simple color variation that increases albedo and works to keep the roof cooler.
Cool and cold zones reduce heating demand. Like most homes, there is more than one thermostat in our house. Only one zone is occupied at any time, so the temperature in most of the house can be cool or cold. Turning down the thermostat has an immediate effect on fuel consumption, and it does not cost any money. I do some pushups and put on a sweater or hat if I am feeling cool.
A 12kW solar photovoltaic net meter system is in progress at our house. It took many years to arrive at the right system installed in the right place. As time passed, the size of the system tripled. There's room for system expansion.
I eat less meat and more beans than I used to. There's always an opportunity to improve diet.
Do you support the Vermont Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment?
Why or why not? (20 words or less)
Article 22 enshrines an important right, one that exists in current state law (18 V.S.A. Ch. 223). It also appears to create a state interest in pregnancy – perhaps something to correct later.