Incumbent Burlington Mayor Discusses Environmental Priorities
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger was at the city’s waterfront Tuesday afternoon to outline his environmental priorities if he is elected to a third term on Tuesday.
The Democrat said one of the reasons he’s running for a third three-year is to make sure his administration’s environment and climate change initiatives continue. “In 2014 we became the first city in the country to source 100 percent of our electricity from renewable generation. Other things in the last three years included the re-zoning of at this point our entire downtown to have high environmental performance standards. We have the most stringent regulations now in the state of Vermont. You know another area of real environmental leadership has been with respect to solar and electric vehicle installations. We had 25 solar installations in the entire city six years ago. We now have 168. We had no electric vehicle charging stations six years ago. We now have 24 different ports and that figure goes up regularly.”
Weinberger says he wants to expand on those efforts during a third term. “There’s a number of things we would focus on in an environmental agenda but the big three are taking strides towards becoming a net zero energy city across not just the electricity sector, where we’re already there, but also across the thermal and the ground transportation sectors. Thermal being how we heat and cool our buildings. The second major area will be continued leadership with respect to cleaning up Lake Champlain from phosphorus pollution and runoff. And the third big area is our broader efforts to lead Vermont climate change initiatives through the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition which attempts to make sure that Vermont is continuing to work towards the goals of the Paris Agreement despite the withdrawal of the federal government.”
Burlington Electric Commission Chair and senior consultant at the Energy Futures Group Gabrielle Stebbens says Burlington residents crave sustainability and the protection of natural resources. “This is not normal what Burlington does. It’s really phenomenal.”
Man behind Stebbins: “In a good way right?”
Stebbens: “In a great way. It takes both the support from the people but it also takes the leadership and the vision and the fortitude at the top.”
Encore Renewable Energy Director of Project Development and Construction Chad Nichols says he’s watched the city become established as an environmental leader. “We hope to see this work continue and ensure that Burlington remains a magnet for young folks who want to find meaningful work in a city that really values these environmental resources whether it be renewable energy, the lake, transportation. And it’s important that all happens while remaining a really cool place to live. And I think it’s important to note that a lot of folks sort of take progress for granted. I think a lot of folks think cities progress no matter what. And that’s definitely not the case.”
Last week the Burlington Electric Department announced a new financing plan to make electric vehicles more affordable for its customers.
Mayor Weinberger is being challenged by Independent candidates Carina Driscoll and Infinite Culcleasure. The election is on Town Meeting Day March 6th.