The effects of global warming are already being felt in Vermont, with a recent study showing Burlington has warmed faster than any city in the country over the past four decades. We have a responsibility to ourselves and future generations to do our part to reduce our carbon pollution – and the transition off of fossil fuels presents a significant economic opportunity. By weatherizing homes, developing renewable energy, installing heat pumps and advanced wood heat, creating broader transportation choices, and more, we can put Vermonters to work and save families money over the long-term.
In recent years, the State of Vermont has made progress reducing energy consumption through efficiency programs, enacting an innovative Renewable Energy Standard to deploy more renewable resources, and setting statutory goals to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas pollution. Our combined efforts have saved Vermonters money and moved us from the highest to second lowest electric rates in the region. However, we have far more to do – particularly considering that a recent Agency of Natural Resources report showed Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising. According to the Vermont Total Energy Study, a 2014 Department of Public Service analysis of how to meet the state’s comprehensive energy plan goal of 90% renewable energy by 205, meeting our state’s goals are feasible and can be done in a way that grows our state’s economy.
Considering that we import 100% of the fossil fuels we use for transportation and heating, we have an exciting opportunity to increase our energy independence and move people to more local and cleaner hearting and transportation solutions. To spur Vermont’s essential energy transformation, we need to invest in energy efficiency and implement improvements to commonsense policies like appliance efficiency standards. We also need to support policies that will allow for the strategic deployment of renewable energy. We must ensure that one-time opportunities like the Volkswagen settlement funds are used to help transform our transportation system, not squandered on investments in fossil fuel vehicles.
Further, we must explore and advance policies like carbon pricing to help Vermonters invest in solutions and transition away from fossil fuels. An innovative new carbon pricing proposal would put a fee on polluting fossil fuels and provide a rebate via Vermonters’ electricity bills. The Legislature should explore how best to implement carbon pricing to grow Vermont’s economy, protect the most vulnerable, and drive down our climate pollution.
2018 Legislative Priorities:
- Increase state funding to weatherize more Vermonters’ homes and businesses.
- Maintain Vermont’s commitment to the Renewable Energy Standard’s Energy Innovation Program, energy efficiency funding, and expand appliance efficiency standards.
- Send a strong message to the administration that the Volkswagen settlement funds should be used to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure and electric vehicles – such as transit and school buses – to help spur the transformation of our transportation sector.
- Continue exploring and advancing innovative climate solutions, including carbon pollution pricing paired with a rebate on Vermonters’ electricity bills.