Vermont businesses make case for pollution tax

More than 200 Vermont businesses have now endorsed Energy Independent Vermont — the campaign to put a price on carbon pollution.

Several Vermont business leaders spoke at a State House press conference today — saying that climate change threatens Vermont’s economy, brand, and quality of life. The business leaders – which included representatives from Adamant Sugarhouse, Seventh Generation, Champlain Orchards and Ben & Jerry’s – said placing a price on carbon pollution and investing in efficiency and renewable energy will help grow the local economy.

“For 25 years Seventh Generation has taken great care in the business choices we make to protect the planet for future generations,” said Ashley Orgain, Seventh Generation’s Manager of Mission Advocacy and Outreach. “As hard as we’ve tried to reduce our footprint its clear change will not come from one company’s actions alone. That’s why we are proud to be standing today alongside more than 200 Vermont businesses calling for bold leadership on climate change by putting a price on carbon pollution.”

Bill Suhr, the founder of Champlain Orchards said, “Unlike many Vermont farmers our orchards were thankfully minimally affected by Irene. But it’s not just extreme weather – we are also very concerned about rising summer temperatures, as well as excessive rainfall and dry spells during the growing season. We need to do what we can to tackle climate change while we still can, and that’s why we support a carbon pollution tax.”

“As a sugar maker, you used to not even think about tapping trees until after Town Meeting Day, and you’d make most of your syrup in April,” said Rick Barstow, the owner of the Adamant Sugar House. “Now we’re usually tapping in mid-February. The season’s already gotten shorter, and we’re only beginning to see the effects of global warming.”

“Climate change threatens our economy and our environment,” said Daniel Barlow, public policy manager at Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. “Right now we spend $2 billion each year on fossil fuels as a state and 80% of that money goes right out of the state. Investing in efficiency and renewable energy means we’re growing jobs right here in Vermont.”

Wednesday’s press conference coincided with hearings on a carbon pollution tax bill in the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee at the State House.