Legislative Update: Week 1
It’s a new year and the start of the 2018 legislative session. This week, legislators are setting priorities for the year. Some arereporting it will be a contentious year, but one thing is already clear: environmental initiatives will be front and center. VCV is working to ensure that clean water funding, toxic chemical reforms, climate action, and healthy forests are high on legislator’s priority lists!
CLEAN WATER: #CleanWaterVT
We were pleased to see Gov. Scott acknowledge the need for long-term funding of clean water initiatives in his State of the State address. Unfortunately, VCV was already called on to testify on a Scott administration proposal that would weaken a key stormwater requirement of Vermont’s Clean Water Act. Not the start we were hoping for, but we’ll be working to develop long-term solutions that ensure all Vermonters have clean, safe water now and for generations to come.
House Speaker Mitzi Johnson highlighted the urgency of climate action in her opening speech to the full House, and charged every committee to work on climate solutions. This is an encouraging direction, emphasized by Gov. Scott mentioning the Vermont Climate Action Commission in his State of the State address. We’re eager to see what policies the Scott administration will propose. So far, unfortunately, we have yet to see the actions match the rhetoric: the Scott administration’s initial proposal for the VW mitigation funds would allow for spending on so-called “clean” diesel, and he continues to oppose any form of carbon pricing which is an important solution Vermont should be pursuing.
Throughout the session, our friends at Vermont Natural Resources Council will be posting weekly updates from the State House on climate action. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and tune into the conversation with the hashtag #ActOnClimateVT.
No action on toxic chemical reform at the State House yet – but next week S.103, toxic chemical reforms, as well as legislation to improve management of household hazardous waste will be on the agenda. We’ll continue to work to make sure toxic reforms get taken up soon – and you can help us make it a priority by signing a petition to ask Governor Scott to support the quick passage of S.103. A Vermont Public Radio story this week exposed that Saint Gobain is arguing they are not responsible for the PFOA contamination of numerous wells in North Bennington – which highlights the need for better legal tools for Vermonters to protect themselves and hold polluters responsible, which we will be pushing for action on in Senate Judiciary.
The Senate and House Agriculture committees began testimony this week on several bills that would impact the health and integrity of Vermont Forests (S.101, S.276). We’ll be pushing to ensure legislation (H.233) that would improve how Act 250 addresses forest fragmentation is taken up by the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee early this session.
Thank you, as always, for making your voice heard on these critical initiatives now and throughout the session. We’re at the State House nearly every day, but we can’t do this work without your support in local communities throughout Vermont!