CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL- IT'S HERE- IT'S TIME TO ACT...NOW.
The Climate is changing and so must we.
Vermont must do its part to reduce our carbon output, like everywhere else across the country and globe.
As a member of the Legisaltive Climate Solutions Caucus, I was glad to be part of the effort that passed the Global Warming Solutions Act- and overode the Governors veto.
GWSA will develop a long-needed plan to pull together the efforts to reduce carbon and set the goals we need to reach and hold us to meeting those goals.
Thisyear we started passing bills to implimnet these ideas.
Unfortunately,the Governor again vetoed important legislation, IN 2022, the Clean Heat Standards bill. This year (2023) we're back with the Affordable Heat Act.
S.5, a Senate bill will promote a transition to less heating by fossil fuels and an evolution towards 21St Century heating technology;
Heat pumps, hybrid water heaters, weathrizing older homes, new wood heating technology. We are especially committed that these policies align with our commttment to equity. These options must be made avaolable to those who wouldn't otherwiae be able to afford these changes in heating.
WIth the price of gas and heating fuel soaring, this bill would take a large step towards disconnecting Vermonters from the clutches of carbon fuel monpolies.
We will keep working on this, as our future depends on us making progress.
In the first half of this session the Senate worked on S.5. Now that it's headed to the House, stay tuned on where we land on this important bill.
As the climate changes, strategic conservation of land and water has become increasingly urgent to protect biodiversity and ensure continued ecological and economic benefits from a resilient and connected landscape. Vermont’s wetlands, shorelands, and forests are home to all manner of wildlife, recreation, and working lands. While we have robust conservation science, tools, and partners, more planning is needed to guide future conservation efforts and resources and meet the conservation goals called for in the state’s Climate Action Plan.
The legislature’s "30x30" bill, H.126, requires the Agency of Natural Resources to develop a plan to permanently conserve 30% of our landscape by 2030 and 50% by 2050. Currently, roughly 26 percent of Vermont is conserved in a way that aligns with this bill. More than 100 countries, including the United States, have signed onto 30x30 goals. Three categories of conservation are defined in the bill, ranging from working lands to passively managed lands for old forest. To chart a path for accomplishing these goals, the Agency of Natural Resources will direct a planning process that includes broad input from regional and local entities as well as an updated inventory of conserved lands.
Addressing Climate Change in Our Transportation Sector
The issue of climate change, and what we can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is one of the most pressing challenges facing us today. Over 40% of Vermont’s carbon emissions come from our transportation sector. This year’s transportation bill will continue to make significant investments in policies to help Vermonters transition to more fuel-efficient vehicles, including all-electric vehicles. Additionally, the T-Bill invests in public transportation and infrastructure that supports more walking, biking, and public transit options throughout the state. As recommended in Vermont’s Climate Action Plan, the primary goal is to electrify our transportation system to meet our mandated climate goals.
Using $21 million available over 5 years from the federal Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA), the T-Bill will continue significant investments in electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids through purchase incentives. These incentives are income sensitive to ensure all Vermonters can afford to buy new or used low-or zero-emission vehicles. Additionally, the T-bill uses federal funding to expand our EV charging infrastructure to ensure that everyone, including those who rent or live in multi-family units, has a place to plug in their car.
Transportation Plans for Vibrant Communities
Within a community, a local transportation plan can improve life for residents, increase health and social equity, and revitalize local economies. Vermont’s historic village and downtown centers provide “great bones” for walkable compact lifestyles. The transportation bill includes funding for the Downtown Transportation Fund (DTF) and the Better Connections Program. The DTF supports revitalization efforts in designated downtowns and village centers by making these areas more pedestrian, bike, and transit friendly. This competitive grant program is administered by the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development and provides awards up to $200,000 which also require a 20% match by the community. Communities ready to develop a broad community vision are encouraged to apply for a Better Connections grant which provides technical assistance and planning funds to communities to help align transportation and smart growth policies. Additional resources available to communities seeking to improve livability, walkability, safety, economic vitality, and community vibrancy include Animating Infrastructure grants through the Vermont Arts Council and the Better Places Program through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.