Statehouse Headliners: Pot study deadline up in air, Vermont makes millions from ‘cap and trade,’ and SolarFest home sours on solar

By Guy Page

Earlier this summer, Gov. Phil Scott announced plans for a marijuana legalization study commission. The commission members have not yet been named, and there’s no deadline for reporting to the Vermont Legislature, a senior administration official confirmed last week. The intention is still to have a report ready by January, the official said.

Vermont receives millions from other states in regional carbon “cap and trade”

Last week state officials praised a plan for higher penalties for power plant greenhouse gas emissions in the nine northeastern member states, including Vermont, of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. But if you’re worried these penalties will come out of Vermont’s pocket – don’t be. Instead, we benefit. RGGI is a “pay to pollute” cap and trade system that takes money from states where fossil fuel power is generated, and gives it to states with little or no fossil fuel generation – like Vermont, which passed on coal and gas plant construction in favor of Vermont Yankee, hydro, and more recently wind, biomass and solar power. Since Vermont Yankee closed, Vermont now consumes more fossil fuel power, but because the power is made elsewhere (mostly in southern New England), we don’t pay the RGGI penalties. Instead, Vermont weatherization programs have received more than $19 million in RGGI payments total since 2008. Julie Moore, VT Secretary of Agency of Natural Resources, said in an Aug. 23 press release: “RGGI has proved incredibly successful at driving down emissions from the power sector in a way that puts money back in Vermonters’ pockets.” True that. But be warned: Vermonters will pay more if Vermont bills H.273, H.394, and/or S.66, leading to “cap and trade” on Vermont home heat and transportation, pass in next year’s session.

Gov. Scott wants underwater transmission line to pay for Lake Champlain cleanup

At his press conference in Barre last Thursday, Gov. Scott was asked by reporters where the money will come from for the hugely expensive cleanup of Lake Champlain. His specific, emphatic answer: He hopes much of it will come from the TDI Clean Power Link, one of several competing Northern New England power projects proposed to deliver renewable Canadian electricity to southern New England. TDI has pledged about $200 million in lake cleanup funds.

Gov. Scott will be the Keynote Speaker at the ISO-NE Consumer Liaison Group quarterly luncheon Sept. 7 at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock. The subject of the noon-4 pm gathering is trends in regional energy transmission. The luncheon and meeting is free and open to all but pre-registration is necessary.

Hometown of historic “SolarFest” sours on local solar project

For two decades, early promoters and enthusiasts of solar power held a “Solarfest” in Middletown Springs, a small Rutland County town. But now many residents oppose a large-scale solar project that would replace a local apple orchard with five acres of solar panels, Michael Bielawski of True North reported Aug. 29.

VY settlement money creates new demand for VT wood

Fortunately for Vermont schools and for Vermont’s forestry and renewable power economy, a $1.6 million commitment by Vermont Yankee to the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund has helped fund the installation of new wood-burning furnaces and infrastructure for three Windham County schools, with five more in the works, the Vermont Energy Partnership reports.

The benefit of building wood-fired heat in public schools extends beyond Windham County to the entire Vermont economy and to our state’s contribution to reducing greenhouse gases. Vermont’s logging industry faces serious problems, including an aging workforce, prohibitive workers’ compensation costs, and dwindling pulpwood demand from our increasingly paperless society. For an industry yearning for hope, the cost-effective transition of public buildings to wood heat creates a large potential market.

Pro-assisted death groups oppose physician freedom agreement

Earlier this year, the state of Vermont and a federal judge agreed that Act 39, Vermont’s assisted death law, does not require doctors to inform terminally-ill patients about assisted suicide. Instead, doctors may direct questions to another physician. On Aug. 23, this legal agreement was challenged by two assisted-death groups.

The groups, Compassion & Choices and Patient Choices Vermont, say the agreement “causes confusion about physician obligations to patients.”

Iran refuses U.N. nuclear inspection; Israeli consul general visits VT this week

Iran is ignoring a request by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley for UN inspection of military sites to determine compliance with the 2015 Iran/U.N. nuclear weapons development agreement, the Associated Press reported Aug. 29. An Iranian government spokesperson called Haley’s request “a dream.”

Also, Consul General of Israel to New England Yehuda Yaakov will be in Vermont this week for two events:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 30, 7 p.m. in Montpelier at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, 135 Main (corner of School St.), refreshments will be served.
  • Thursday, Aug. 31, 9 a.m. in Burlington at Ahavath Gerim Synagogue, 168 Archibald Street; Breakfast will be served Sara Frank Chapter of Hadassah in Vermont in collaboration with Jewish Communities of Vermont, Ruach HaMaqom and UVM Hillel.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, Divestment Facts, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Church at Prison.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

One thought on “Statehouse Headliners: Pot study deadline up in air, Vermont makes millions from ‘cap and trade,’ and SolarFest home sours on solar

  1. I am thinking that the cap-and-trade equation may not be complete. If states that use fossil fuel are penalized by the cap-and-trade money, then it seems that the electric rates from fossil fuel would go up to pay for the cap-and-trade penalty. And since Vermont is now using that fuel, then are not Vermont rate payers actually helping fund the cap-and-trade penalty. I suspect there is still a net gain, but not quite what it would be if Vermont was not now relying on fossil fuel generated power.

Comments are closed.