An episode of the Vermont Natural Resources Council “Climate Dispatch” posted Friday features Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and highlights a handful of climate bills, including one that would accelerate the transition towards green energy for Vermont power utilities.
In the episode, host Lauren Hierl, the group’s executive director, discusses the House-passed Global Warming Solutions Act, which seeks to revamp the state’s heating, energy and transportation sectors.
“The bill that makes our climate pollution goals into requirements so the state will be authorized and given the responsibility, and given the means, to convene a climate council to come up with a plan and then implement that plan so we can actually get on track and hit our climate targets,” she said.
She also highlighted S.267, which increases targets for green energy adoption via the state’s Renewable Energy Standards.
“It’s saying 100 percent of our electricity should be coming from clean, renewable energy by 2030,” Hierl said. “There’s a lot of consensus around that big goal and right now, There’s a lot of conversation about how much of that renewable energy should we have the responsibility for building right here in Vermont.”
It would also double the requirement that renewable energy comes from within the state, from 10 percent to 20 percent.
The other Senate bill, S.337, has to do with energy efficiency technologies.
“Another bill on our priority list is modernizing and updating our energy efficiency utilities so that we can put all of that good expertise they’ve developed on driving down electricity usage and getting more people access to clean transportation and heating solutions. So there’s a pilot program that’s moving. It’s also being looked at in Senate Finance.”
Hierl also mentions the Transportation Climate Initiative, which has experienced some political turbulence with little support from Scott or other New England governors. But Hierl says it’s still on the table.
“The conversation is kind of happening and we have not seen a bill, but we’re hopeful and we’re still hearing there’s a lot of interest from folks in the building to talk about how that would look if the legislature should enact a bill to say that would say we should sign-on if it meets certain criteria.”
Zuckerman says he’s optimistic that overall the climate agendas are getting traction.
“Many of us have felt there’s been a real stagnation in progress on climate crisis initiatives at the Statehouse, and in particular at the administration level where leadership is supposed to from,” he said.
He also mentioned Vermont’s version of the Green New Deal, introduced by state Sen. Anthony Pollina, P/D-Washington. That initiative would “put a marginal tax rate on the wealthiest 5 percent of Vermonters” and could bring in $30 million annually for green investments.
Zuckerman added that the state has lost over 500 jobs in the solar field, and he wants to see them come back.
“We want to attract people who are family-age younger folks to Vermont and we’re not gonna do that if we are cutting the kinds of jobs that those folks are interested in,” he said.