Vermont Senate Votes to Approve Critical Climate Bill

Vermont State House

Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Jared C. Benedict

June 25, 2020 (MONTPELIER, VT) – A coalition of business and environmental organizations released the following statement today after the Vermont Senate overwhelmingly voted to approve the Global Warming Solutions Act. 

The groups commend President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, Majority Leader Becca Balint, Chairman Senator Bray, members of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, and the Climate Solutions Caucus for their strong support and leadership in addressing the simultaneous COVID-19, economic, racial equity, and climate crises by passing this important bill with a 23-5 vote. The bill will now head back to the House for final approval, before being sent to the Governor for his signature.     

“Cutting climate pollution and investing in sustainable and climate-resilient communities has significant public health and economic benefits for Vermonters,” said Jen Duggan, Vice President and Director of CLF Vermont. “The Solutions Act requires climate solutions that reduce energy burdens for rural and marginalized communities, build healthy communities, and protect our natural and working lands. Today’s vote is an important step forward towards ensuring an equitable transition to a carbon-free and resilient Vermont.”

“Accountability that ensures we make progress to curb climate pollution is long overdue, and today’s vote is a critical step forward. Many thanks to the legislators who supported this important bill,” said Vermont Natural Resources Council’s Energy and Climate Program Director Johanna Miller. “We have a real opportunity to pivot out of the Covid-19 crisis, rebuilding an economy that is more local, clean, durable and equitable. The Solutions Act will really help by putting in place the strategic planning process we need to do this work well.”

“Scientists suggest that we have one decade remaining to stay below a 2-degree Celsius temperature increase, meaning urgent action is necessary to save our planet,” said Lauren Oates, Climate & Energy Policy Manager with The Nature Conservancy in Vermont. “We are grateful to the Vermont Senate for its strong support of the Solutions Act, which places economic resilience and environmental action hand-in-hand, elevates the role our natural and working lands play in combatting climate change, and aims to build a cleaner, more equitable future for all Vermonters.”

“Vermonters overwhelmingly support climate action, and we’re grateful to Senators for their strong vote today to advance this foundational climate bill. At a time of simultaneous public health, economic, and racial justice crises, the Global Warming Solutions Act creates a strategic framework that will help us thoughtfully plan and act to help all Vermonters – no matter their zip code, income, or skin color – to transition to a cleaner, healthier, more affordable and more equitable economy,” added Lauren Hierl, Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters.

“Today’s passage of the Solutions Act is a big step forward, and shows that Vermont’s legislature is getting serious about treating global warming like the emergency that it is,” said Ben Edgerly Walsh, climate and energy program director with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG). “While there is far more that needs to be done to cut our own climate pollution and make our communities and our state more resilient to the effects of this global crisis, the Solutions Act sets us on that path while helping bring about the just, green recovery Vermont needs right now.”

“As Vermont looks to rebuild our economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to develop a new model for prosperity—one that puts climate resiliency, equity, and just transition off of fossil fuels at the center of our recovery efforts,” said Jordan Giaconia, Public Policy Manager with Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. “The Solutions Act has a pivotal role to play in this process and would lay a foundation upon which we can build a clean energy future that puts Vermonters to work in family-sustaining jobs, stimulates our local economies, and invests in historically underserved communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Thank you to our legislators for advancing this visionary bill.”

“The Global Warming Solutions Act is a huge step in the right direction.  It lays the groundwork for Vermonters to engage in the response necessary to remain safe and thrive in a changing world,” said Steve Crowley, Sierra Club Energy Chair.  “It recognizes that the harshest impacts of climate change will land on the most vulnerable, and it makes that a priority for planning and action. Vermont needs to couple this with action to clean up all of Vermont’s energy supply and grow a clean energy economy for all.”  

The Global Warming Solutions Act will put Vermont on par with many other states in the region with similar accountability frameworks and, importantly, on an equitable path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. By turning greenhouse gas reductions goals into mandatory requirements, the bill gives state government both the authority and responsibility to reduce carbon pollution across all sectors of the economy while building healthy and resilient Vermont communities.  The bill is supported by a broad coalition of 30 Vermont organizations representing business, youth, poverty alleviation, public health, environment and other diverse interests.

Experts are available for further comment.