Our Work in Vermont

Hurricane Irene Anniversary

Vermont’s green mountains, open fields, and compact villages have made the state a living example of how to balance development and a healthy environment. But Vermont stands at a crossroads. Sprawling development is paving rural landscapes and endangering our quality of life. Polluted runoff from agricultural lands and poorly planned suburban development is dumping phosphorus and toxic substances into our waters, including Vermont’s “great lake,” Lake Champlain. Increased driving and electricity consumption in Vermont and around the world are spurring climate change, threatening Vermont’s skiing and maple syrup industries.

CLF is fighting hard to protect the state’s beautiful waters. In particular, Lake Champlain, the nation’s sixth largest body of freshwater and Vermont’s crown jewel, is suffering from a phosphorous pollution crisis. Too much of this potent nutrient is fueling terrible, sometimes toxic, algae outbreaks that destroy the lake’s beauty, close beaches, and even threaten public health.

In response, CLF created the Lake Champlain Lakekeeper program, part of the national Waterkeeper Alliance, to field a full time advocate to do legal, organizing, and detective work to protect Lake Champlain. Through the Lakekeeper program, CLF has successfully addressed polluted stormwater runoff, fought for more stringent standards for sewage treatment plants, and pressed for pollution controls on industrial dairy operations. At the same time, CLF developed and supported policies to help Vermont’s farmers to farm sustainably. These include a permanent agriculture viability enhancement program, a better coordinated “buy local” initiative, more targeted farmland protection, and a program to access federal funds for beginning farmers.

To fight climate change and stabilize energy prices, we have long supported clean energy for Vermont, including East Haven Wind Farm. CLF also emphasized the importance of efficiency in the debate over Vermont Electric Power Company transmission projects and the state’s energy future and successfully pushed the Vermont legislature to double its energy efficiency budget. Because siting power lines is often a slow process, CLF recommended ways to increase energy efficiency and local generation of electricity. The Public Service Board has since adopted many of these suggestions.

We have also pressed for a transition away from Vermont’s reliance on the aging, dirty Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. The 30-year-old plant’s long history of accidents and leaks reached a fever pitch in 2010, when high levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope, were found leaching from the plant into groundwater and the Connecticut River. Owner Entergy’s evasiveness made things worse. CLF led the effort to ensure that Vermont Yankee shutdown in December 2014.

To retain Vermont’s rural and small-town character, CLF cofounded and leads the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative (VSGC), a coalition that supports compact settlements separated by rural countryside, with access for all Vermonters. As part of VSGC, we are working to protect historic development patterns, preserve walkable downtowns, and keep farmland. We also fought to retain strong environmental protections in Vermont’s Act 250, allowing citizens to continue their involvement in land-use decisions that affect their communities. To the same end, CLF is advocating for low-cost, modern transportation solutions instead of continued spending on highway projects like the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway – a $100 million road project around Burlington that would open up vast new areas of the rural landscape to sprawl.

15 East State Street, Suite 4
Montpelier, VT 05602
P: 802.223.5992

Chris Kilian
VP and Director