Clean heat standard bill passes Senate, late amendments fail

Senate lawmakers decided against adding further amendments to the clean heat standard bill H.715 Friday morning before it passed on third reading on the Senate floor.

An amendment by Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, D-Chittenden, included a series of proposals for Vermont to define liquid biofuels and their “renewable” status.

“This is too important, and this is work that can be further expanded upon should there be a committee of conference,” she said on the Senate floor. “But I do see these ammendments as friendly and as improving this bill to make sure that equity is addressed.”

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GREEN ENERGY ADVOCATE: Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, D-Chittenden, is seeking more scrutiny for what constitutes green biofuels.

Ram Hinsdale told the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee about her proposals, which failed to gain traction on Friday. However, committee chair Sen. Chris Bray, D-Addison, suggested these could be proposed again before the bill would be implemented in 2025, assuming it is signed into law by the governor.

“[For] the first instance of amendment, it felt important to have a definition for sustainable resource biofuels. It’s barrowed language from the UN Sustainability Principles,” Ram Hinsdale said.

Another proposal by Ram Hinsdale would have put a cap at 10 percent on the “clean heat credits” that can be obtained via selling liquid biofuels or renewable natural gas. She also proposed that natual gas and biofuels be viewed as transitional fuels as the state moves on to using other alternative energy sources.

The proposal also sought to examine the global impact on food costs connected to the biofuels, which she said was an equity issue.

“I wanted to make sure that we were looking globally at the food costs — that’s been a major concern with biofuels, particularly ethanol,” she said. “When you take crops out of food production or value crops differently for their fuel potential, that can skyrocket food prices.”

She also proposed that clean heat credits be available to low and moderate income earners.

But Bray said he was reluctant to take up any new big changes at this late stage in the legislative session.

“The difficulty is that we have two other bills that we already scheduled for work. This is third reading, the bill has been out of committee for two weeks, so it’s an awkward time to receive a substantial amendment,” he said.

Ram Hinsdale responded that further transparency might help the bill over the long run.

“I think that the more people trust our process the more they will be willing to move in a renewable energy future,” she said.

During the bill’s second reading on Thursday, a “check-back” amendment was added at the request of Gov. Phil Scott. The amendment requires that the Public Utility Commission inform the Legislature in February 2023 and January 2024 on how the program will affect ratepayers and reduce the use of fossil fuels. Lawmakers would have to then approve the clean heat standard again, after having received that information, which is not currently known.

It’s not clear if Scott plans to sign H.715, primarily because the bill has received numerous changes that need his evaluation.

In a commentary published last week, Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, criticized the clean heat standard bill and said it should be tabled for now.

“There is still time to contact your senators and ask them to table H.715 and let the $200 million they are allocating for clean energy do the real world work. Vermont does not need more gimmicks and convoluted energy policies and requirements to buy more stuff,” she wrote.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Public domain and state of Vermont
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7 thoughts on “Clean heat standard bill passes Senate, late amendments fail

  1. Running the State government is not an easy task…….It’s really not reasonable to expect our elected officials to be experts on the host of complex issues that come before the legislature everyday.

    While the voters cannot expect our elected officials to be technical experts on all matters, we should expect them to have common sense and a minimal level of wisdom……But, we haven’t witnessed that common sense or wisdom in the handling of H.715.

    What we have seen are admissions that of not knowing what the bill will accomplish, flippant statements of “get a blanket” and Sen.Kesha Ram Hinsdale proposing amends to the bill that were likely fed to her by special interest lobbyists……..Amendments that Sen. Ram Hinsdale likely has little understanding of…….Amendments that were rightfully rejected.

  2. Governor Scott would be wise to end this charade with a veto.
    Legislators, even on the environment and energy committee cannot explain why they are doing this, what the CO2 reduction would be in $/metric ton, how much fossil fuel Btu would be displaced

    Remember, the CADMUS Survey of Vermont heat pumps showed, IN THE AVERAGE VERMONT HOUSE, only a 29% fossil fuel Btu displacement

    In my well insulated and well sealed house, with three heat pumps, there is only a 35% fossil fuel Btu displacement.

    BTW, I bought my heat pumps to have my own REAL WORLD operating data, so I would not have to rely on the BS number published by self-serving entities.

    Any CO2 and fuel cost reductions claims made by the EAN, VT-DPS, etc., should reflect these realities

  3. There shouldn’t be any bill until we have a cost analysis for what carbon
    reduction amount this will achieve. If there is no major reduction then the cost
    doesn’t warrant more cost laid on the citizen’s of this overtly expensive state.
    When our carbon footprint is only 0.03% of a supposed problem I see no
    need in all this warm mongering crap. The UN who these dolts follow every word
    on stated back in the 80’s that rising oceans would sink countries by 2000.
    Well folks have any countries vanished that you know of? Are any screaming
    about loosing cities or towns to the rising oceans? NO they haven’t.

  4. They offer no alternative that will work to replace biofuels like kerosene, fuel oil propane or natural gas..
    They just want to say a BIG NO !!!! with no options on the table.
    “Buy a blanket” Says McDonald – useful response ??

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