Vermont Conservation Voters

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Legislative update: Week 5

In the fifth week of the legislative session, lawmakers are continuing to take testimony and we’re starting to see some progress on several issues we are prioritizing. Many environmental initiatives continue to receive attention – and we continue to advocate for enacting long-term clean water funding, toxic chemical reforms, climate action, and healthy forests.

CLEAN WATER: #CleanWaterVT

We continue to advocate for legislation that strengthens and funds our existing clean water commitments – and to oppose any rollbacks. This week, the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee continued working on a bill that contemplates creating a Clean Water Authority to raise funds and distribute money for clean water projects. You can help build support for this concept by signing the petition calling for action on clean water this year.
You’re also invited to join us on Thurs., Feb. 22nd for Vermont Clean Water Day 2018 from 10AM to 4PM to celebrate our lakes, ponds, rivers and wetlands, and call on our lawmakers to invest in cleaning up and protecting our waterways. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

CLIMATE: #ActOnClimateVT

This week climate champion legislators came together for a press event to announce introduction of carbon pricing legislation(S.284 & H.791). They also discussed the regional efforts underway in eight other northeastern states, who are also introducing carbon pricing legislation. Momentum continues to build, though unfortunately,Governor Scott opposes even a study of how pricing carbon pollution could work for Vermont. We will continue advocating for progress on meaningful climate solutions.
The House voted overwhelmingly in support of a bill (H.410) that expands energy efficiency standards for appliances – a bill that will save Vermonters money and cut our energy use. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.
Learn more and stay up-to-date by following VNRC’s weekly Dispatch on Climate from the State House available here each week, or by turning into the hashtag #ActOnClimateVT on Facebook or Twitter.

TOXICS: #ToxicFreeVT

This week testimony continued on two priority bills to better protect Vermonters from toxic chemicals. The Senate Health & Welfare Committee voted out S.103, which creates an interagency committee for better coordinating chemical regulations; requires new drinking water wells be tested for toxic contaminants; and improves the Toxic-Free Families Act to better protect children from toxic chemicals. We expect that bill to be on the Senate floor next week.
In the Senate Judiciary Committee, they continued testimony on a bill to give Vermonters better legal tools to protect themselves if they’ve been harmed by toxic contamination, like our neighbors in Bennington (S.197). Industry groups are coming out in force in opposition to both bills, so we are working hard to advocate for positive votes on these important issues.

FORESTS: #vtforests

Last week, the Senate passed a bill (right-to-conduct forestry, S.101) that clarifies that lawful forestry is not a nuisance unless there is a negligent forestry operation, or a forestry activity that significantly interferes with the use or enjoyment of a person’s property. In addition to S.101, several committees in the Legislature continue to focus on other policies related to working forests, forest processing, and supporting the utilization of efficient wood heating. We will continue to track these policies to ensure that they balance supporting working lands while also protecting landowner rights and our natural resources.

WORKING LANDS

This week, conversations continued in the House Agriculture & Forestry Committee on H.663, a bill we are tracking to ensure promotion of working lands isn’t done at the expense of community planning, and doesn’t commercialize the landscape. Read our partner organization VNRC’s statement on the bill, in a joint letter they submitted to legislators with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.

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!