Gov. Scott appoints new climate change commission, but says economy comes first

Photo by Michael Bielawksi

ECONOMY VS. ENVIRONMENT: Gov. Phil Scott, standing with his new Vermont Climate Action Commission, walked a tight rope explaining how he’s going to meet global climate goals yet keep his campaign promise to boost the economy.

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Gov. Phil Scott has appointed a new Vermont Climate Action Commission to fight climate change, despite moves by President Donal Trump to move away from the Paris climate agreement.

“In response to the federal government’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement, I’ve joined 13 other governors and affirmed the state’s commitment to meeting our share of the emission reductions of the United States Climate Alliance,” Scott said during a Thursday news conference.

“Despite what’s going on in Washington, I am committed to doing our part,” he added.

Scott reaffirmed that Vermont is still dedicated to getting 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2050, a goal that originated during the Shumlin administration.

A cornerstone of Scott’s election campaign was to build a stronger economy and relieve Vermonters of high costs of living, initiatives which are often at odds with the climate change agenda due to high priced wind and solar.

Scott was asked how he’s going to work towards ambitious climate-based goals while still maintaining a strong economy.

“I keep saying this but it’s worth repeating: Growing Vermont’s economy, making Vermont more affordable, taking care of the most vulnerable — those are my objectives,” Scott said. “And I think we can have both of those concerns.”

He suggested that the professional diversity of the 21 commission members should allow for the right balance between the economy and environment. Members’ professional fields include transportation, agriculture, energy, construction, utilities, fuel, manufacturing, local government and more.

When Scott was asked about the high cost of renewables, he said the answer to that situation may be found looking to our northern neighbors.

“It may be expensive here in Vermont to produce renewable energy. … (But) we’ve seen in Canada, in particular, that they have an over-abundance of renewable energy that they’re willing to part with.”

He referenced a new power conduit that is “all permitted and ready to go,” which would run through the Lake Champlain area and get energy into Vermont as well as further New England.

“We’re hopeful, and we are working very hard to be part of that solution and to transfer power from Canada to the Boston region,” he said.

Though not mentioned specifically by Scott, Hydro Quebec has long been seen among energy industry insiders as an affordable way to purchase renewable energy without the high costs associated with wind and solar.

Scott stressed that a lot of the emissions from Vermont come from the transportation sector, so this is one area where changes could start within the state. He cited Quebec’s goal for 100,000 new electric cars to be operating in their province over the next few years.

“That’s why we are looking at trying to provide corridors for recharging and different opportunities for us from a couple standpoints,” Scott said. “One is to make sure that we ready for the future, but as well when we are asking the tourists from Canada to visit our state that they have a place that they can recharge.”

Scott was asked if he would accept proposals for new industrial wind turbine projects, something Scott largely campaigned against last year, even going as far to call for a moratorium.

“Well again, you know my feelings on wind development on ridgelines,” he said. “I’m not necessarily opposed to wind in some spaces, I just feel that we shouldn’t be destroying our ridgelines.”

Scott was asked if economic compromises by Vermont are worth it when considering the state is just a small piece of the global economy.

“That’s why I think there needs to be a combination of both (economic and environmental goals),” he said. “Making sure that we’re economically viable, that we have our eye on that, and that we possibly would be able to take advantage of (a renewable economy) and be an example for others.”

June Tierney, the commissioner of the Department of Public Service, told True North the economy and environment can improve together in tandem.

“All those economic opportunities have implications for the environment,” she said. “They’re directed safeguarding the environment, protecting and rehabilitating it, and making it sustainable for future generations. So it’s really important for us to not fall into the false dichotomy of thinking that one or the other when the discussion needs to be about where do they meet.”

Paul Costello, executive director at Vermont Council on Rural Development, addressed the same matter.

“The commission is going to give us an opportunity to evaluate ways that we can boost economic opportunity and create jobs in … the green economy sector,” he said. “And that includes things like transportation change. What are we going to be driving in, and how, in ten years? How are we going to be able to advance vehicle electrification?”

Costello added that Vermont needs to attract youth and that these types of emerging industries could be just the attraction to lure them in.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorth82X.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawksi/TNR
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6 thoughts on “Gov. Scott appoints new climate change commission, but says economy comes first

  1. Hey Gov , when are you going to start racing your electric race car instead of that
    GAS guzzler you now race , show the state your serious …………………

    Like above , I’ve been snookered !!

  2. Paul Costello, executive director at Vermont Council on Rural Development, addressed the same matter.

    “The commission is going to give us an opportunity to evaluate ways that we can boost economic opportunity and create jobs in … the green economy sector,” he said. “And that includes things like transportation change. What are we going to be driving in, and how, in ten years? How are we going to be able to advance vehicle electrification?”

    Life-cycle Greenhouse Gases of Vehicles: A life-cycle assessment should cover four distinct phases of a vehicle’s life, and be based on driving, say 150,000 km (93,750 miles) during the 15 years of a vehicle’s life, using 10% ethanol/90% gasoline blend (E10), and a grid CO2 intensity of say 500 g CO2/kWh, or 1.10 lb CO2/kWh. The embedded greenhouse gases, as a percent of the lifecycle total emissions, in metric ton, are shown in below table. An electric vehicle has emitted about 46% of its lifecycle emissions before it has been driven a single mile. See URL and click on press release.

    1) Vehicle production – to assess embedded CO2
    2) In-use phase – to assess CO2 incurred during the driving
    3) Disposal at end-of-life
    4) Fuel production and delivery processes of electricity generation and gasoline production, depending on vehicle type.
    http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/06/full-life-cycle-assesment-electric-cars-compares-co2-impact-conventional-cars/

    Vehicle Embedded Driving, etc Replace Battery Lifecycle
    CO2, Mt CO2, Mt CO2, Mt CO2, Mt
    IC 5.6 (23%) 18.4 0 24.0
    Hybrid 6.5 (31%) 14.5 0 21.0
    PIHD 6.7 (35%) 12.3 0 19.0
    EV 8.8 (46%) 10.2 3.8 22.8

    • The data in the table got scrambled, but it is clear the life cycle CO2 of an internal combustion vehicle is about the same as of an all electric vehicle.

      If the EV has a large capacity battery, such as a Tesla, the EV would have more CO2 than an ICV.

      Not many people know this, and the EV manufacturers getting those huge subsidies are not about to explain the numbers to the public.

      It would rain on their hyped messages for EVs.

  3. Let’s see now, we want to stop global warming without hurting the economy, I’ve got a great idea. If we can speed up global cooling to the point where there is snow 12 months a year, the Vermont’s economy would take off – ski areas would run year round, outdoor clothing retailers would flourish, fire wood sellers would keep busy if they were allowed to cut down trees, fuel oil retailers would grow their business, snow plowers would be kept busy, just to mention a few of the many benefits. Unfortunately, as usual, there would be unintended consequences – no more growing feed for dairy cows, no work for landscapers and grass mowers, no more golf, outdoor tennis, fly fishing, trail hiking, sailing, outdoor swimming, BUT, Gov. Scott would get his wish and he could disband his Climate Change Commission. Scott for shame.

  4. He might as well have signed the carbon tax bill because with this move he now proves he’s in bed with the idealist idiots at Vpirg.

    Good luck one term Phil. I guess we were all snookered…

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