Climate change is the major issue of our time. It will not be solved by one all-encompassing policy, but rather by a great many efforts that take on the issue from every angle. This year, we’re fighting to make sure addressing climate change is a priority in Vermont’s state budget. But we need you to add your voice.
Planning on being there? Then scroll down for more information on what we’re calling for in the budget, and definitely check out our fact sheet too!
On Monday, both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees are hosting 6 public hearings across the state to get input from Vermonters on the 2020 Budget. It’s an opportunity for Vermonters to have their say on what their own tax dollars should be spent on.
We need to make sure that climate action is being prioritized at all of those hearings – that’s why we’re calling on our most active members to ask that you show up to the public hearing closest to you and stand up for climate action by voicing your support for the Climate Package. It would be a couple of minutes that could make a huge difference in how Vermont addresses climate change going forward.
Those hearings are being held at the following locations:
- Winooski (Community College of VT)
- Rutland (Rutland Public Schools)
- Springfield (Springfield Town Hall) *NOTE: The Springfield hearing is from 5:30-6:30
- Albans (St. Albans City School)
- Morrisville (People’s Academy HS)
- Johnsbury (St. Johnsbury House)
The Climate Package
The Climate Package is a set of policies to be included in the state budget aimed at reducing carbon emissions in Vermont. Its goal is to put a portion of Vermont’s budget towards climate action, every year.
In 2018, a report came out detailing Vermont’s progress on cutting carbon emissions, and that report showed that our emissions are up 16% from 1990 levels, what the Boston Globe recently called an ‘embarrassment.’
But our dependence on fossil fuels is not just an environmental issue, it’s an economic one, too. Vermonters spend a lot of money on energy costs – much of which is put towards heating their homes and driving their cars around our mostly rural state. When that money is put towards fossil fuels, an estimated 78 cents of every dollar goes out of state – about $1.5 billion every single year.
There’s no doubt about it, we need to get moving on addressing the threat of climate change appropriately. That’s why this year’s Climate Package takes on heating and transportation, which, when combined, account for two-thirds of Vermont’s carbon emissions.
Transportation: Investing in an Electrification Transformation
As you may recall, in 2018 VT received $18.7 million in settlement funds as a result of the outright violation of the Clean Air Act by Volkswagen, who purposefully cheated US emissions tests and sold over 500,000 dirty vehicles labeled as clean across the United States. More recently, Vermont’s Attorney General has announced separate, state-level auto emissions settlements with VW and others totaling another $4.5 million.
The 2019 Climate Package calls for all Volkswagen settlement dollars to be used exclusively toward electrification. This could include an incentive program for lower and middle income Vermonters to purchase electric or used hybrid vehicles, funding to expand EV charging infrastructure, and investment in heavier electric vehicles, like school and transit buses.
Heating: Ramping up Weatherization for an Efficient Future
When it comes to heating Vermont’s homes, one of the biggest obstacles we have to tackle is an old, inefficient housing stock. The solution is weatherization – insulating these old buildings and sealing up their many drafts.
This is why we’re fighting to ensure there is funding in the budget to double the number of low- and moderate- income homes weatherized every year.
Getting these policies into the FY2020 Budget won’t happen without an outpouring of support from Vermonters all across the state. That’s why we’re asking our members and supporters to show up and speak out for climate action this Monday, February 25th from 6pm-7pm at one of 6 Public Hearings being hosted by the two Committees on Appropriations.