Budget a step in the right direction, but bolder action needed
January 24, 2017 (MONTPELIER, VT) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement today in response to the announcement from Vermont Governor Phil Scott that he will be investing 25 million dollars per year over the next two years into ensuring Vermont has clean, healthy waterways. The Governor’s announcement comes on the heels of last week’s report from Treasurer Pearce concluding that 48.5 million dollars per year is necessary to fulfill the state’s legal clean water obligations.
“There is no doubt that a significant investment in clean water is essential for the economy, property values, tourism, recreation and the environment, and the question now is how we are going to get there,” said Rebekah Weber, CLF’s Lake Champlain Lakekeeper. “Today the governor took a big step in the right direction, but his funding plan falls short of what we need to ensure safe, healthy water for all Vermonters. By doubling his proposed investment and extending it beyond the next two years, Governor Scott can send a strong message that ensuring clean water must be a top priority.”
A number of Vermont advocacy organizations joined CLF in calling for a larger funding commitment from the governor.
Lori Fisher, Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Committee, commented, “The Governor has not proposed enough short term funding to clean up and protect Lake Champlain and other state waterways and has not offered any proposal for the needed long-term funding. The $50 million proposed for the next two years is about half of what is needed in Tier One implementation funding for Act 64, legislation that is solely focused on nutrient reduction. In the long term, new revenue sources will be needed for the continued restoration and protection of Lake Champlain and other waterways throughout the state.”
Mark Nelson, Chair of the Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club, commented, “The Sierra Club appreciates the Governor’s acknowledgement that protecting our lakes, streams and landscape is vital to Vermont’s economy. However, we are dismayed that his budget proposal falls far short of providing the $110 million that is needed over the next two years for the Clean Water Fund. Nor did he address any long-term investments that have a linkage to the sources of our water pollution as was proposed by Treasurer Beth Pearce. We cannot continue to avoid the need to address this problem head on. We encourage the Vermont General Assembly to move forward with long term plans that will support a Clean Water economy, and hope that the Governor will support those efforts.”
Marty Illick, Executive Director of the Lewis Creek Association, added, “Lewis Creek Association and Champlain Valley partners recognize the significant step forward of recommending $50 million for clean water for the upcoming two years. We also note the need for greater funding support in order to meet our near and long term legal obligations.”
CLF experts are available for further comment.