350VT’s Position on Climate Legislation – 2020

Our number one priority at the State House is to ban any new, large-scale fossil fuel infrastructure in Vermont. To learn more about why we need to do this, check out our Fossil Fuel Resistance page and our Reasons Why Vermont Gas is a Bad Player. NO MORE PIPELINES! Bills that will explicitly help us achieve this are H.51, S.66, and H.175.

350VT supports the climate change legislation proposed in the 2020 Climate Action Platform. We believe it is the first real attempt by Vermont’s Legislature to comprehensively address the climate crisis. However, we feel the proposals need to be strengthened to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a real and immediate way.

The talk of the town in terms of climate legislation currently under consideration is the “Global Warming Solutions Act,” H.688. The intent of the bill is to hold Vermont accountable to its GHG emissions goals, which is certainly something 350VT supports. The bill would allow for citizens to sue the state for not reaching these goals–  but the bill as it has been introduced is a far cry from a real “solution.” What’s necessary for survival and what’s “passable” in the legislature should not be separate concepts!

We would like to see the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) substantially strengthened by: 

  • Including a ban on any further development or expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in Vermont, such as gas pipelines. (We are still pushing for H.51/S.66, which would ban new pipelines, and H.175)
  • Requiring Vermont achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2032 and decarbonization by 2040 as proposed in the Vermont Youth Climate Congress Declaration. 
  • Including a stronger right to private citizen action to ensure private citizens will have legal standing.
  • Establishing tighter limits on the use of carbon offsets, no greater than 10%, and assurance of no adverse impacts on people or ecosystems. 
  • Including stronger language on the need to address a just transition. 

Additionally, as either part of the GWSA or as separate legislation, we must: 

  • Create effective forest and agricultural policies that prioritize restoring water quality, building soil health and protecting ecosystem functions and resiliency. Create economic incentives and educational support for farmers in the transition to truly regenerative practices that sequester carbon, preserve soil health and water quality. (See our Put Carbon in the Ground page!)
  • Actively work to serve the needs of marginalized communities who are socio-economically and geographically vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as proposed in the Vermont Youth Climate Congress Declaration. This includes prioritizing people of color, rural and indigenous communities and low income Vermonters in a comprehensive new disaster preparedness and response plan, as well as prioritizing these communities’ access to educational facilities, incentives, job training, and transition assistance, among other critical services. 
  • Create a state operated public education effort, similar to a public health campaign and including K-12 school curriculum, to fully inform all Vermonters about the climate crisis and the need to act boldly now. 
  • Reduce the renewable energy credits from Hydro-Quebec to zero when the current contracts run out, or cap at 220 MW. 

Expand incentives for community solar projects.

There are tons of other concerns that we have, such as the subsidization of the fossil fuel industry (Vermont Gas) through Vermont’s “Efficiency Utility” program, and With regard to the Renewable Energy Standard, keeping“renewable natural gas” (biogas) out of the equation. The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a 12-state program is also a highly contested piece of legislation that 350VT will likely take a stance on once we see a proposal. We’ll keep this page updated as we learn more about bills being introduced!

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HOW TO GET INVOLVED:

  1. Join us for our 4th annual Mother Up! Lobby Day— where we uplift and highlight the voices of families and children! Our kids deserve a future, and we’re making sure Governor Scott and the Vermont Legislature act to preserve it!
  2. Join our Citizen Advocates working group! We’re organizing statewide to connect Vermonters to their elected officials, and pressing them to take meaningful action on climate! We’ll help connect you with your elected officials and guide you through everything from phone banking to grassroots lobbying to direct action in Montpelier!