In a HUGE win for climate action, the Global Warming Solutions Act, H.688, passed through the House of Representatives this afternoon in a 105-37 vote, sending it to the Senate with a strong message of support. (Check out how your rep voted here!)
The success of the Solutions Act in the House comes after months of engagement, hard work, and commitment on the part of hundreds of VPIRG members, lawmakers, allied organizations and businesses of all stripes, and concerned citizens from all over the state. That work must continue as the bill makes its way through the Senate and onto the Governor’s desk.
The bill started the session with a whopping 87 co-sponsors and spent five weeks under the scrutiny of the House Energy and Technology committee, home to two of the bill’s lead sponsors, Tim Briglin (D-Thetford) and Laura Sibilia (I-Dover), the chair and vice-chair of that committee, respectively. The committee heard testimony from nearly three dozen individual stakeholders and eventually passed it out in a 7-2 vote.
The Solutions Act will set Vermont on a path to develop a detailed plan outlining the steps we need to take to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint, while increasing the resilience of Vermont communities in the face of the climate crisis. The Climate Action Council created by the bill will be charged with creating this plan, which will then be used to inform rulemaking on reducing climate pollution at the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). If those rules are not adopted, or are found to be insufficient, ANR could find themselves in a lawsuit and ultimately be required by the courts to take action.
A last-minute effort was made to strip the bill of some of its most significant aspects, functionally eliminating the core of the bill – that Vermont’s climate goals will now be requirements to reduce our climate pollution, that action must begin in earnest, and that state government can be held accountable if it fails to act. That amendment was voted down by legislators, who went on to vote it out of the House with only minor changes.
With such a high level of support for the Solutions Act in the House, it is expected that the Senate will take it up quickly. Be sure to check back regularly for updates, and in the meantime give a call to your Senator urging them to support the bill going forward.