Late last week, the House advanced their version of the budget in a 122-10 vote, and in it they included a ‘climate package’. This section of climate-related appropriations may ring a bell if you’ve been following our climate work this session!
Specifically, the climate package includes:
- $120,000 for a “study of regulatory and market-based decarbonization mechanisms”. This impartial study of carbon pricing and other climate action measures will be carried out by the legislature’s own economic analysts to get to the facts about how climate action will benefit Vermont’s economy.
- A mandate to use Volkswagen settlement funds for electric trucks, buses and charging stations.
- Modest funding for replacing old wood stoves with newer, more efficient ones.
While we certainly need much bolder climate action if we’re going to reach our greenhouse gas reductions goals, the inclusion of this package in the budget is an important step and it wouldn’t have happened without the support of Vermonters like you who showed up for public comment, made calls, sent emails, attended educational forums and more.
But last week, Governor Scott put out a letter to legislators in opposition to a laundry list of legislative priorities. He has made it clear that he opposes studying carbon pricing and his administration is lobbying to be able to use Volkswagen settlement funds to buy new fossil fuel vehicles.
Despite the governor’s opposition, House legislators put forth a budget that takes a step in the right direction. This is the exact kind of climate leadership we need to see from our elected leaders, and we will work with Vermont senators in hopes that they’ll maintain the climate package and demonstrate a similar kind of leadership in light of the governor’s backstepping on climate. We can use your help, too – Please consider sending your senator a note in support of the climate section of the budget using this form.
Vermont has made great strides over the years in electrification, efficiency and clean energy, however the unfortunate reality is that we are falling short on meeting our state’s climate and energy goals. With Washington D.C. and Congress abdicating any and all leadership on climate, it’s critical that our state budget lays out a plan to address climate pollution, support the most vulnerable, boost our local economy, and work towards a clean energy future for Vermont.
This budget starts us down that path.
But there’s a long way to go before the budget is finalized and implemented. Now the budget heads over to the Senate for deliberation, before heading over to the governor’s desk for signing. We’ll be watching this closely throughout the session and keep our members updated with how to take action to ensure that this climate package remains in the finalized version of the budget.