Over 50 citizen activists converged on the State House for the Vermont Energy Independence Day of Citizen Action. Following dozens of conversations with legislators, the day was best summed up by one participant who noted,
“It was my first time at the State House involved in this kind of activity – and it was absolutely electrifying. We feel incredibly fortunate to live in a State where our legislators are so accessible. It’s a feeling that democracy really works in Vermont.”
Vermont Energy Independence Day is about advancing solutions to the challenges posed by the climate crisis and our dependence on dirty energy. And, there’s no better place than Vermont to make solutions happen. But, with a lot on legislators hearing from regular Vermonters, in the halls where they shape Vermont’s future, is so important.
To celebrate the first anniversary of “Vermont Energy Independence Day,” a coalition of environmental organizations – including 350 Vermont, Citizens Awareness Network, Conservation Law Foundation, Sierra Club – Vermont Chapter, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, and Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance – joined citizen activists to advocate on the following platform of bills.
SUPPORT FUNDING HEATING EFFICIENCY
H.520 — Investing in heating efficiency is one of the single most cost-effective ways Vermonters can reduce carbon emissions, save money, and help build the local economy. House bill H.520 is heading to the floor for a vote soon, and our goal is to urge the Senate to improve the bill by adding the robust funding essential to meeting the state’s goal of weatherizing 80,000 homes by 2020. Both Representatives and Senators need to hear from constituents that funding programs that make it easier and more affordable for Vermonters to complete home energy projects is the responsible thing to do.
OPPOSE ROLLBACKS ON CLEAN ENERGY
S.30 — This bill represents a significant threat to renewable energy development in Vermont, wrongly pitting renewable energy goals against environmental protection. They are not mutually exclusive goals. That’s why a broad coalition of environmental groups, as well as the business community, opposes the bill as written: it overreaches and targets clean energy and not dirty energy projects. Simultaneously, there are exhaustive efforts under way by the Governor’s Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission to improve the siting process for energy projects. This bill preempts that important work. S.30 is expected to go to the Senate floor next week.
SUPPORT STRENGTHENING STATE’S HAND ON TAR SANDS PIPELINE
S.58 — The State of Vermont must use its jurisdictional powers to ensure that tar sands oil does not reach the world market or endanger our environment and our communities. We can play a major role in slowing the development of this dirty fuel by refusing to allow its passage to refineries on the Eastern Seaboard. To ensure Vermont strengthens its hand and its ability to stop the pipeline reversal and the transport of tar sands, the legislature should strengthen the State’s jurisdiction over changes to existing oil pipelines using Act 250. The Senate version of the bill (S.58) passed out of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and is headed to the Senate floor, and the House version of the bill (H.27) is in the House Committee on Fish and Wildlife.
SUPPORT FUNDING THE CEDF AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES
H.519 — This bill would provide stopgap funding for the Clean Energy Development Fund (the fund that provides incentives for small, home- and business-scale renewables), which would otherwise run out in by June of this year. It would also continue down the path of placing significantly more electric vehicles on Vermont’s roads, a major piece of any comprehensive strategy to tackle global warming pollution in Vermont.
SUPPORT GREENFIELDING AND RETIREMENT OF VERMONT YANKEE
H.139 — This bill would require adequate funding (beyond decommissioning funds that are under the jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) to ensure Entergy keeps its promise to clean up and green field the site. The bill is currently in the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. In addition, a bill introduced by Senator Jeanette White, S.149, would require the owner and operator of a nuclear energy generating plant to establish a trust to fund the management of spent nuclear fuel and proposes a fee on the storage of irradiated nuclear fuel.
SUPPORT FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT
S.131/H.271 — Our goal is to get state pension funds divested from dirty energy companies. There are bills currently in the House and Senate Committees on Government Operations.