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Vermont Environmental Advocates Outline Legislative Priorities

Picture of green earth cradled in hands

This week, three Vermont environmental groups outlined climate priorities they believe the Vermont Legislature should consider this session.
The Vermont Natural Resources Council, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, and Vermont Conservation Voters held a webinar to outline legislation they want lawmakers to act on. VNRC Energy and Climate Program Director Johanna Miller says the environment, economy and social equity form the basis of their priorities.  “We are talking about climate action because it’s wreaking havoc on our environment and costing us tremendously in quality of life. And far more failing to take action is also a huge economic opportunity, squandered economic opportunity, and it is also a tremendous equity issue. So these are the three fundamental principles that really guide our policies and our work.”

One bill the groups feel needs action is one that would create a statewide 100 percent renewable electricity standard by 2030. The advocates are also calling on legislators to endorse the recently proposed Northeast Transportation and Climate initiative.  VPIRG Climate and Energy Program Director Ben Edgerly Walsh says they are advocating for legislation that meets their foundational goals.  “The first thing that we’re going to be advocating for is significantly more accountability within our climate targets. We have not been hitting them. That is not acceptable.  Number two getting to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030; expanding our work on electrification and efficiency and then looking at a program that’s a regional program around sort-of cap-and-invest model called the Transportation and Climate initiative which seeks to really drive down our emissions in particular in the transportation sector.”

A key bill this session for Edgerly is the Global Warming Solutions Act. It would require Vermont to meet emission reduction targets equivalent to the Paris 2025 climate goals followed by 80 percent reductions by 2050 and eventual net zero emissions.  “Making sure that this bill really embodies the principles of a just transition for all Vermonters and all Vermont communities is essential and we also think there’s a real opportunity to advance the idea of resilience. We also know that some of the impacts are here already and more on the way no matter what we do as a state. And so we need to build more resilient homes, businesses, communities and a state and that this law has an opportunity to really advance that.”

Vermont Conservation Voters Executive Director Lauren Hierl reviewed a poll jointly commissioned with VPIRG to determine opinions on their policy priorities.  “All of these big pieces of our policy platform wide broad support. We saw really strong support among Democrats, Progressives and Independents. Republicans were a little more split but still strong results across the board and really notable how strong the support was among Independents.”  

The poll by Public Policy Polling of 768 Vermont voters was conducted on December 3rd and 4th and has a margin of error of 3 and a half percent.

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