It will take a suite of strategies to rebound from the COVID-19 crisis, but one that should not be overlooked is the Lake Champlain clean-up effort. The federally mandated work to clean up our iconic waterbody can help fuel Vermont’s recovery from the pandemic – creating a win-win for our environment and economy, both in the short-term and in the future.
Even as we mourn the lives lost to COVID-19 and absorb the heavy toll it has taken on our economy, we must recognize that the old “normal” left too many communities unhealthy and especially vulnerable to the pandemic. Replicating that old “normal” will squander an opportunity to reduce climate danger while building healthier and more just communities for all.
With the Vermont General Assembly reconvening, CLF is working with lawmakers to advance solutions that protect our natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy on behalf of all Vermonters. This session, we’re focusing on cutting carbon, limiting plastic pollution, protecting the state from toxic “forever chemicals,” defending water quality, and more.
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets’ Emergency Exemption Inconsistent with Clean Water Laws
“An increase in rain and snow is not an emergency,” said Jen Duggan Vice President and Director of CLF Vermont. “Vermont is a wet state and it is getting wetter as a result of climate change. The State should be focused on real solutions instead of relying on blanket waivers that are inconsistent with clean water laws and result in polluted waterways.”
Jen Duggan, director of CLF Vermont, said in an interview that the ban should remain due to the “greater risk” of manure spread on snow running off into water. The Vermont Attorney General’s Office is looking into possible stream pollution by a Highgate dairy farm based on an Agency of Agriculture enforcement staff video of manure-laden water flowing off a field into a nearby ditch.
Some Vermont lawmakers seem hell-bent on eliminating the state’s few wetlands that have survived three centuries of filling and draining. And if they have their way, our remaining wetlands could be at risk at the upcoming state legislative session, starting in January. It’s time to gear up and raise your voice for the under-appreciated, yet critically important values of Vermont’s wetlands.
Summer after summer, Lake Champlain is plagued with toxic cyanobacteria blooms, also known as blue-green algae. These toxic algae outbreaks harm our way of life as well: the next generation of Vermonters may not be able to enjoy a summer on Lake Champlain the way that their grandparents did.
This legislative session was full of historic victories for the people of Vermont. Our legislature passed three of the strongest pollution protection laws in the country, setting the standard for New England and the rest of the country.
Vermont is more than halfway through this legislative session, and there is still no clear path for funding. Our legislature has promised to fund clean water initiatives for years, yet they have kicked the funding can down the road again and again.
Weber said accountability and monitoring are particularly important because the job ahead is so huge. “We need to remove around 213 metric tons of phosphorus from Lake Champlain,” Weber said. “That’s just Lake Champlain. There are other obligations in other watersheds. We’re not near that goal.”