The Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act is now law.
While Governor Phil Scott vetoed the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), more than 2/3 of the House and Senate voted to override.
What happens next?
A 23 member Vermont "Climate Council" will begin working on a “Climate Action Plan.” This plan must be finalized on or before December 1, 2021. After the plan is adopted, the Agency of Natural Resources will have six months to come up with a regulatory structure to enact the plan. The rules will then go into effect on December 1, 2022.
We don’t know what regulations will be proposed. But the Climate Council could enact restrictions on the combustion of fossil fuels or the equipment and engines that depend on them. Under the GWSA, the state of Vermont must show a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2025. If emissions do not decline by at least 26%, anyone could sue the state. It doesn’t stop there. Vermont will have to show a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. And then 80% fewer emissions by 2050.
This emission reduction mandate aligns with the state's decade old energy policy to virtually eliminate all petroleum in Vermont.
How can an unelected “climate council” enact restrictions on the combustion of fossil fuels? And without a ban, how will the 2025 mandate be met? More than 50,000 homeowners will have to voluntarily turn off their oil or gas heating equipment and more 130,000 gasoline powered cars would need to stay parked to reduce consumption by 26% over the next four years.
Who are the 23 members of the Vermont Climate Council and how do they get appointed?
The Council includes 8 members of the Governor’s cabinet:
• The Secretary of Administration;
• The Secretary of Natural Resources;
• The Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce;
• The Secretary of Human Services;
• The Secretary of Transportation;
• The Commissioner of Public Safety;
• The Commissioner of Public Service
The Speaker of the House chooses 8 members of the Council:
• Someone representing rural communities;
• Someone with expertise and professional experience in the design and implementation of programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
• Someone representing the municipal governments;
• Someone representing distribution utilities;
• Someone representing a statewide environmental organization;
• Someone representing represent the fuel sector;
• Someone with expertise in climate change science; and
• Someone representing Vermont manufacturers.
The Committee on Committees (Senator Ashe, Lt Governor Zuckerman, and Senator Mazza) choose 7 members of the Council:
• Someone with expertise in the design and implementation of programs to increase resilience to and respond to natural disasters resulting from climate change;
• Someone representing the clean energy sector;
• Someone representing the small business community;
• Someone representing Vermont Community Action Partnership;
• Someone representing the farm and forest sector;
• Someone representing young people;
• Someone representing a Vermont-based organization with expertise in energy and data analysis.