Mid-session update: Where we stand

Legislators are home for Town Meeting this week – marking ‘halftime’ for the 2018 legislative session. It’s been an exciting year for carbon pricing, but there’s still a long ways to go. Here’s a snapshot of where carbon pricing stands half-way through the session, as well as a recap of how we got here and looks ahead:

In late February, the House Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Committee voted in favor of directing the Joint Fiscal Office (the legislature’s own team of economic analysts) to study the potential costs and benefits of the ESSEX Plan and other carbon pricing proposals. Thank you to Reps. David Deen, Mary Sullivan, James McCullough, Carol Ode and Trevor Squirrell for voting to advance a non-partisan study of carbon pricing. This study is now in the House Appropriations Committee and has a chance of being included in the finalized state budget.

A funded and impartial study of carbon pricing will leave no room for doubt – and no room for the misinformation of the fossil fuel lobby – about the benefits of carbon pricing on Vermont’s people, economy, and environment. It’s a modest step that will give legislators the information and confidence needed to move ahead with bold climate action.

Town meeting week is a critical time to let legislators know what you want them to prioritize in the second half of the session. We hope you’ll take a minute when you see your legislators this week at Town Meeting or perhaps even at the local grocery store and urge them to support funding for an impartial study of carbon pricing. 

Early session recap:

The ESSEX Plan Introduced. A huge development early in this session was the introduction of S.284 and H.791, two bills modeled on the innovative ESSEX Plan to strengthen the economy, prioritize low- and middle-income Vermonters in the transition to the clean energy future, and lower carbon pollution. Sen. Chris Pearson (Chittenden) and Sen. Allison Clarkson (Windsor) are co-sponsors of the Senate bill. Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (Bradford) and twenty-three co-sponsors introduced companion legislation in the House.

The Carbon Costs Coalition Launches. Vermont legislators, led by Rep. David Deen (Putney), joined forces with their colleagues in eight other states to form the Carbon Costs Coalition. This multi-state coalition is focused on reducing carbon emissions, ensuring equity in policy proposals, developing market-based solutions, creating resilient local and regional economies, and improving public health. By coordinating efforts, these legislators are leading a state-based movement to take action on climate. Read more about the launch of the Carbon Costs Coalition and Vermont’s carbon pricing legislation here.

The Climate Solutions Caucus Prioritizes Carbon Pricing. The Climate Solutions Caucus, chaired by Sen. Dick McCormack (Windsor) and Rep. Mary Sullivan (Burlington), has made advancing carbon pricing one of its top priorities for the legislative session. The Caucus which comprises more than one-third of the General Assembly, has hosted several information sessions on the ESSEX Plan and serves as a strategy group for bold climate action.

Looking ahead:

As the 2018 session accelerates towards adjournment in a few short weeks, we’re urging the Senate’s Natural Resources & Energy Committee to take up S.284 for consideration, and the House Energy & Technology Committee to commit to further hearings on H.791 as well. We’ll keep you informed as those bills move forward!

Also, we are incredibly excited for the 3rd annual Youth Lobby Day on Thursday, April 12. Thousands of Vermont students will be in and around the State House that day calling for bold climate action, including a price on carbon pollution.

Lastly, but certainly not least – It is so important to note that none of the above would be possible without the commitment and activism of EIV supporters. Your efforts are essential and everyone on the Energy Independent Vermont team is deeply grateful.