Public tells lawmakers they want to save the economy and stop global warming

Michael Bielawski/TNR

WHAT CAN GOVERNMENT DO BETTER?: At a public meeting Wednesday at the Vermont Statehouse, members of the public told lawmakers what government might do better in the next legislative session to foster a strong rural economy.

MONTPELIER — Lawmakers from the Rural Economic Development Working Group (REDWnG) heard dozens of Vermonters share their thoughts on how to grow a rural economy during a public meeting at the Statehouse last Wednesday, and opinions differed widely on the role government should play.

REDWnG consists of between 15 and 20 members in the Vermont House of Representatives who work to advance policy initiatives aimed at strengthening the economy in rural Vermont communities.

As they opened up the session to take public comments, some Vermonters demanded more action on global warming. Jordan Giaconia, public policy manager of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR), was one such voice.

“Many of our rural businesses that VBSR represents are interested in climate action,” he said.

Giaconia continued that not only do his clients see fighting global warming as a “moral imperative,” but also as an economic opportunity. He said his members suggest actions ranging from divesting money from fossil fuel companies to building electric vehicle infrastructure. Such actions, Giaconia said, would “yield significant economic benefits for rural and low-income Vermonters as well as ratepayers at large.”

Jenna Koloski, the community and policy manager with the Vermont Council on Rural Development, shared a similar sentiment.

“On the state policy side, we facilitate the Climate Economy Action Team,” she said. “It’s a group of large and small businesses and organizations unified around the belief that Vermont can be a leader in developing rural solutions to climate change.”

Koloski continued that she thought a priority for 2020 should include signing onto the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a regional carbon pricing scheme that will raise the cost of fuels for the fuel dealers, and ultimately vehicle drivers, in the name of trying to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

RELATED: TCI, the latest climate stealth tax

Mari Olmand, who co-owns Green Mountain Girls Farm in Northfield, praised Time for selecting 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg as 2019 “Person of the Year.”

“Greta stands forward as Time’s Person of the Year, striking out with strong values, wellness, social fairness, and responsibility,” she said.

Olmand says she wants to Vermont to lead in environment-first development policies.

Not everyone who spoke put global warming as a top concern. Some said they worried more about developing their businesses or running municipal services without regulatory hurdles.

Greg Tatro, of G.W. Tatro Construction Co. in Jeffersonville, offered up his concerns. As a member of the Johnson Planning Commission, he said he’s concerned with the burdensome constraints of Vermont’s Act 250 development process.

“Act 250 is expensive and it’s unpredictable,” he said. “I built a bank in Jericho this year, and between Act 250, civil engineering and the stormwater system, it was over $200,000 just to get started.”

Tatro continued that an associate of his also built banks, one in Vermont and another in New Hampshire, and that it took just one-third of the time and money to build in New Hampshire. He said that has to change.

“If you are a business wanting to move here and you don’t even know if you can get a permit, this is something you need to work on,” he said.

Liz Royer, a resident of Williston and the executive director of the Vermont Rural Water Association, expressed concern about the high cost of cleaning up PFAS (perfluorooctanoic acid).

She said the cost of getting it out of a water system could approach “several million dollars.”

“We all want to protect public health, but there are unintended consequences of these new requirements,” she said. “There are ongoing financial impacts of Act 21. … Our rural communities need funding mechanisms to help drinking water systems to continue monitoring PFAS and other chemicals that may emerge as contaminants of concern.”

One of the last speakers, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, said reforming health care might help keep seasonal workers in Vermont.

“They are often seasonal, and one of the real challenges to keep people in place, to work between different seasonal jobs and to work between having jobs, is the lack of health care,” he said. “I would hope you put into your rubric universal health care because, along with child care, I think that’s a huge impediment to having folks be able to stay and live in our rural areas.”

State Rep. Chip Conquest, D-Wells River, was the main moderator. After the hearing, he told True North that comments about the need to change Act 250 stood out to him.

“One of the things that I found interesting was hearing the number of people who brought up the proposals for changing Act 250 and how that might affect rural economies,” he said. “What I heard from a couple of people was their sort-of support for the work of Act 250 as it has existed, but a need to make it more usable for people who have to go through that process, to make it quicker and less expensive.”

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

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

10 thoughts on “Public tells lawmakers they want to save the economy and stop global warming

  1. True North should do a study on how many nonprofits are operating in Vermont. Find out who gets the salaries, where their money comes from and their connections to out of state organizations. The only way to beat them at their game is exposure to sunlight by bringing out the truth. Vermont is a petri dish for all things progressive. It’s an infestation of the virus that is killing the host, Vermont. Out of state money should not be controlling Vermont. Complaining does nothing, preaching to the choir does nothing, playing defense does nothing. Only offensive action makes for change. Turn the lights on and the bugs scatter.

  2. The “public” has no idea regarding global warming.

    For the average Vermonter GW means LOWER HEATING BILLS.

    Lawmakers canvassing the public, crying “Hockey Stick” is pure grand-standing and vote-getting, always making sure the state-subsidized media, CCTV*, are present to record their events.

    * Did you know, the state has mandated an 8 – 10 dollar CCTV local TV charge on your monthly Comcast bill to give lawmaker’s efforts FREE publicity?

    The CHANGING impact of the sun’s activity has far greater influence on the climate than any puny efforts mankind might implement AT GREAT COST.

    The Little Ice Age, LIA, 1450 – 1850, occurred without ANY USE of fossil fuels.

    It took about 200 years to go INTO the LIA, according to temperature records, and it likely will take about 200 years to get OUT OF the LIA.

    The Medieval and Roman Warm Periods, both warmer than today, occurred without ANY USE of fossil fuels.

  3. Vermont’s Global warming crusaders, all fifteen or twenty of them. Let’s see it’s in the teens
    this AM, going to a minus twenty tomorrow……….. Yup, Vermont’s getting warm !!

    This boondoggle was started with Al ” Lear Jet ” Gore, stated his rhetoric and these
    clowns are still on the hoax bandwagon, has anything he said come true….Nope !!

    I hope that (REDWnG) is holding these globe trotting fools like Gore’s feet to the fire
    spewing millions of gallons of jet fuel through there jets promoting this BS

    So Vermont is in Debt, lack of jobs, citizens are overtaxed and leaving the state, now those
    are real concerns today !!

    Global Warming, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny……..are all True,

  4. Controlling idiots just have to keep and put their fingers into everything.They’ve been watching computerized movies. Too many chickens running in circles saying “the sky is falling, the sky is falling”. Follow the money.

  5. I for one am sick of having to “lead the country” in anything these leftist fools are inclined to
    bankrupt us with. The audacity of the moronic climatenazis thinking they can control the
    temperature by taxing us more is absurd and going on the word of a whining child “Greta”
    and a bar maid “AOC” is even more absurd..
    What will the fools do when in the very soon to happen “Cooling Period” starts taking hold
    from the unusual long solar minimum we are now in. Will the taxes stop?? will the lies
    from the UN stop?? will Greta go back to school ?? So many questions without brains enough in charge to answer…

  6. It’s sad to see so many intelligent-seeming people so deceived, bamboozled, hornswoggled, hoodwinked, by the “global warming” scam. Oh wait, what’s this? It’s “climate change”.
    Does that mean warming is not the thing we must worry about now, and give up all that’s good to our globalist masters?
    Bbbbbut, they were certain it was warming, weren’t they? Why not now?
    Why should we believe such liars? Fake science?
    It is a sham of a hoax of a scam of a racket. People who are so worried about their “carbon footprint” should recycle themselves, NOW, and save the planet!
    I actually do know enough about science, and little details about past warm and cool periods, the Vladivostok ice cores, how the “hockey stick” was reversed, that CO2 follows, and does not precede, the warming—there is lots of scientific evidence to show how fake this is.
    But all people do is repeat what they were told. They have not the intelligence or imagination to see why and how they could have been deceived. It’s really not that hard.
    Globalist elites rule the masses, with fear, confident that their subjects don’t dare think for themselves or seek other viewpoints.
    Not only is this pathetic, it will destroy us, if this continues.
    Global idiocy, and masses of sheeple, will be our end, not “climate change”.

  7. Not one word was heard about cutting taxes, fees and eliminating the regulations that are holding back Vermont, making people leave and keeping others from coming.

  8. How many acronym groups working to avert a crisis does it take to destroy a state? Maybe (REDWnG) isn’t new but it would seem every time you turn around another such group appears to save the beached Whale known as Vermont.

    This fragmented approach of activism seems too coordinated to be happening by chance, it’s been going on now for many years, yet we remain firmly stuck on the sands waiting for a high tide to lift us out of peril.

    Perhaps the real crisis is we still rely on these activists to save us from ourselves and do not see their deployment in excessive numbers is not normal.

  9. The fact that these folks want to “save the economy” in Vermont tells me that there is a huge disconnect between little ole Vermont and the rest of the country. If the legislature were doing its job, this wouldn’t be an issue.

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