While much attention has been focused on the impending leadership change in Washington, two New England states – Vermont and New Hampshire – will inaugurate new governors in January.
Here in Vermont, we are looking forward to working with Governor-elect Scott, as we have with Vermont’s governors – both Republican and Democrat – throughout our 50-year history. CLF’s willingness and ability to reach across the aisle – and sometimes to bridge the aisle – is one of the things that has made us so successful in forging solutions to New England’s biggest environmental challenges.
And we have some hefty challenges to tackle during Governor-elect Scott’s upcoming term. The plan to restore Lake Champlain to health is still in its early stages and climate change threatens to transform our Vermont way of life – from skiing to farming to maple sugaring. These are challenges that don’t discriminate based on political party. Ultimately, all Vermonters recognize that healthy waters and forests – and a healthy climate – are critical to keeping our economy thriving and our way of life intact.
So, as Governor-elect Scott prepares to take office in barely a month’s time, we are calling on him to:
- Tackle climate change head on. Governor-elect Scott has promised to veto any carbon tax bill and slow down the pace of wind and solar energy development that we have seen under Governor Shumlin. But climate change demands bold action, now, not backsliding to outdated public policies. If we are going to meet the state’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, then we need more investment in clean energy, not less, and a commitment to energy efficiency initiatives that will benefit all Vermonters’ wallets.
- Follow through on the state’s commitment to a clean Lake Champlain. The Governor-elect has said that he supports clean water and the Lake Champlain cleanup. However, he needs to make meaningful commitments to increased funding for clean water investments and real regulatory controls to address farm pollution. Without these commitments, Lake Champlain will languish and toxic blue-green algae blooms will continue to threaten the health of our families.
- Use regulatory reform wisely. The Governor-elect campaigned on a promise to simplify and reform Vermont’s permit and regulatory structures. We understand the desire for simplification, but not at the expense of our environment or the people of Vermont’s ability to participate in the process.
Governor-elect Scott has an opportunity to show leadership on climate and clean water not just here in Vermont, but nationwide. We urge him to seize that opportunity and look forward to working with him to ensure that our Green Mountain state remains a healthy, thriving place to live for all.