“With the current workforce I would say it’s impossible,” TJ Poor, director of planning for the Department of Public Service, said. “I don’t think 700 people could do this many weatherization union units.”
“I did not vote yes for the things I did not have the ability to do a deep dive in. And I think there is some confusion in the public regarding that. … I will never go into the public and say that as a climate councilor I was behind the Clean Heat Standard, because I’m not.”
On Saturday morning, March 11, two former Vermont GOP candidates launched a radio program, “Right Side Up,” on WNTK (99.7 FM) out of the White River Junction area.
Lawmakers took the week off to return home for Town Meeting Week, in what is loosely the mid-point break in the legislative session. This year, it is not surprising that the controversial bill S.5 was a hot topic.
Lawmakers who are intent on pushing through the clean heat standard have been stacking the deck against small, mom-and-pop fuel dealers who stand to lose the most if the clean heat standard becomes law.
Three Democrats, Sens. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle, Bobby Starr, D-Orleans, and Irene Wrenner, D-Chittenden North, joined all seven Republicans in voting no. But the one vote everyone was watching was that of Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington.
Maybe Sen. Westman is better off leaving his $22,000 system sitting in the yard. If the clean heat standard becomes law, many Vermonters will be pushed into buying equipment that they can’t afford, might not be able to have installed, and, if it is installed, may not even work to keep them warm in winter.
Committee Chair Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, told the presenters of the bill, Sens. Chris Bray, D-Addison, and Anne Watson, D-Washington, that she and others have “been the beneficiaries of a lot of communications — many, many communications — and phone calls.”
The question now is whether or not the members of the Appropriations Committee — a money committee —will raise the critical questions about what financial impact this bill will do to people trying to survive Vermont winters.
Sen. Dick McCormack, D-Windsor, suggested that the committee consider scrapping the whole thing and simply enacting a carbon tax on fossil heating fuels and use the money to fund programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This week the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee may vote on its clean heat standard bill, but discussion of the bill at the end of last week’s hearings demonstrated that committee members still don’t understand how key elements of the bill they been crafting work.
Sen. Chris Bray wants to have the clean heat standard bill out of his committee by the middle of this month. Committee members are getting push back from some unexpected quarters, which has led to some testy exchanges between lawmakers and witnesses.