Governor's Covid Press Conference

Vermonters crossing into central, northern NH must quarantine 14 days unless trip “essential”

Governor a NIMBY on New England wind power

By Guy Page

October 20, 2020 – Vermonters who make “unnecessary” trips across the Connecticut River into central and northern New Hampshire must quarantine for 14 days upon return, Gov. Phil Scott said at his press conference today. He also signaled support for big wind power projects in New England – but not in Vermont. 

Vermont Daily asked Gov. Scott: “Grafton County in New Hampshire, right across the Connecticut River from the St. Johnsbury area clear down to White River Junction, is “green” on New Hampshire’s map but “yellow” on Vermont’s. If I have lunch with my daughter in Littleton or shop in West Lebanon do I need to do a 14-day quarantine when I come home?”

“If it’s unnecessary travel, the answer is ‘yes,’” Scott said. “If you normally shop for groceries in Grafton County, if you work in New Hampshire, that’s okay. But if it’s unnecessary, you shouldn’t.” He added, “there’s nothing perfect about the system.” The same restrictions apply to Coos County, which borders the Northeast Kingdom all the way to Quebec. 

Guv okay with Big Wind, but not in Vermont – Vermont Daily also asked Gov. Scott: 

“Governor, a few days after you and four other governors through the New England States Committee on Energy asked ISO-New England to “decarbonize” the grid, this group recommended ISO fund more infrastructure to support big wind projects on ridgelines and offshore, and suggested ISO look at a carbon credit market – which is a form of carbon pricing that benefits zero carbon power generators at the expense of fossil fuel power generators. Should New England’s governors be supporting more big wind projects and an ISO carbon credit market?” 

“As long as the big wind isn’t in Vermont, that’s okay with me. I have nothing against wind generation, I just don’t want to see it in Vermont” because our state is too reliant on tourism to risk placing wind turbines on ridgelines, he said. But elsewhere, “Utilizing those sources would be beneficial.” 

As for carbon credits – “We have something of that nature now,” Scott said. “I can’t say I would have anything to offer at this time. I’m not looking to impact the affordabilty of Vermont in any way,  but to enhance it….we’ve been part of RGGI and that’s been beneficial for Vermont.”

Governor Scott was referring to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a nine-state effort in which states that are home to fossil-fuel power generators pay the states that aren’t. Total auction proceeds since the program began total $3.3 billion. Vermont, which has virtually no fossil-fuel power generation, annually receives income from RGGI and invests it in energy-efficiency programs. 

However, discussion of an ISO-New England carbon credit program is in the early stages. It’s too early to assess likely impact on Vermont ratepayers is unknown. 

Scott not worried about unemployment trust fund – Vermont’s unemployment trust fund has lost more than half of its value since being worth about $500 million before the pandemic struck. But there’s no reason for concern about solvency, Gov. Scott said. The fund is still $242 million in the black. 

“Based on what we’ve seen, we can probably go another six to seven months without a problem. I believe we will have a vaccine in place and people back to work, in winter or spring,” Scott said.

Unemployment dropped to 4.2% in September, administration officials said today. Unemployment is still strong in the tourism/hospitality sector. Scott’s not optimistic about an interstate travel rebound: “When you’re surrounded by this virus and the virus determines what travel will be that’s problematic for us.”

Concerned about social distancing at Trump rallies? Call the cops – A VT Digger reporter asked Gov. Scott how Vermonters concerned about Trump supporters not wearing masks at rallies can notify authorities. Attendees at a recent Springfield rally reportedly were not wearing masks, she said. 

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said concerned Vermonters shouldn’t use the State Police online reporting tool because response would be too slow. Instead, they could call local law enforcement, who could then visit the rally to educate attendees on the need for wearing masks and using social distancing. Gov. Scott said masks will be provided if requested by rally organizers.

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