On Wednesday night 65 people crowded into the banquet room of the Kingdom Taproom in St. Johnsbury to offer varying perspectives on how the Governor’s newly formed Climate Action Commission should address the climate crisis here in Vermont. Of the 65 people present, 37 provided comments to the four commissioners in attendance. Over half of the commenters (19) spoke out in favor of putting a price on the carbon pollution that is driving climate change.
Governor Phil Scott formed the commission shortly after joining the US Climate Alliance. Within weeks of VPIRG demanding that the Scott administration “Walk the Walk” on climate change, the Governor announced the formation of the commission with the stated goal of tackling climate change in a way that grows the economy, supports low and middle income Vermonters, and includes everyone.
Energy Independent Vermont campaign director Tom Hughes agrees with the goals of the commission but suggests the addition of a fourth goal: “ensuring the recommendations of the commission are commensurate with the magnitude of the challenges we face.” With these four goals in mind, he suggests, we will find that carbon pricing is the simplest and most elegant step we can take to catalyze the transition to a clean energy future.
This was the first of the Commission’s public listening sessions and many expressed surprise at the light turnout from the 21 member commission. Co-chair Peter Walke kicked off the meeting just after 6pm and closed the meeting after two and a half hours of comments. Most expressed alarm at the lack of action on the part of state government to truly drive the much-need total transformation of our energy economy.
The Climate Action Commission is holding three more hearings – in Manchester, St. Albans, and Brattleboro – and will also be accepting online public comments. We know that what we really need is a full electrification of our transportation and home heating sectors and a commitment to continuing to encourage our own in state renewable energy resources. One of the quickest and most effective ways to get there is to make sure that fossil fuel companies pay for the costs of their product’s pollution and use that revenue to help Vermont move forward into a cleaner, greener future for all.