Town Meeting Day 2019 Wrap Up

Last week on Town Meeting Day, Vermonters across the state voted on important local issues, weighing in on banning plastic bags, electing local leaders (Lincoln the Goat was just sworn in as Fair Haven’s new ‘pet mayor’), and addressing climate change, among other things. VPIRG played a role in supporting many of these issues, and we saw a lot of success!

In Montpelier, voters hit the polls and successfully passed a charter change that will allow the City Council to improve and strengthen energy efficiency standards citywide. From here, the measure will go to the State House for approval, and can go into effect as early as May of this year.

This is a huge success for climate action in Vermont as it will work as a catalyst for property owners in Montpelier to weatherize buildings and update appliances in their homes/buildings. These steps will work to reduce carbon emissions citywide, and hopefully encourage more cities and towns across the state to do the same.

One key action the council will likely consider will be to require property owners to disclose the energy efficiency of their buildings when they’re up for sale or for rent, just as car manufacturers have to disclose the gas mileage of their vehicles.

In short, this is not just an issue of the environment and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, but it’s also about consumer protection. The energy profile of a home is a big part of the cost to live in it from month to month, an important factor to consider when buying or renting somewhere new. What’s more, just doing a home energy assessment substantially increases the likelihood that a person will invest in energy improvements to their home, meaning Montpelier’s energy efficiency will improve as a whole.

Town Meeting Day also saw many victories for combating plastic pollution, which Burlington residents voted to take bold action on going forward. VPIRG activists were outside polls across the city urging people to vote yes on this important measure, as our advocates continue to work in the State House to reduce single-use plastics statewide. Other measures to address plastic pollution were passed in Manchester and Middlebury.

Many towns and cities also weighed in on addressing climate change, which passed in the form of a resolution in over 15 towns.

Be sure to continue to check our website for more updates on this issue, as well as the many other clean energy bills we’re advocating for in the State House this year.