By Guy Page
October 23, 2020 – Gov. Phil Scott said the State of Vermont may provide temporary fuel storage to homeowners prohibited from receiving heating fuel deliveries due to uninspected or substandard fuel tanks, Gov. Scott said at his press conference today.
Vermont Daily asked: “An estimated 1600 homeowners have “red tags” on their fuel tanks prohibiting fuel deliveries, per the 2017 law. For as yet uninspected homes with no red tags, only heating oil tanks may be filled. Is your administration considering relaxing any of these no-delivery regulations?”
“We’re considering that issue as we speak,” Scott said. “We don’t want anyone to be impacted in a negative way.” One option under review by the Department of Environmental Conservation is to provide temporary fuel storage to homeowners with “red tagged” or uninspected non-heating oil tanks, he said. He emphasized that many “red tagged” fuel tanks represent an environmental risk and should not be filled.
Under a 2017 law, fuel dealers are prohibited from delivering heating fuel to homeowners whose fuel tanks have 1) not been inspected (except for fuel oil) or 2) have been inspected and found to need repair or replacement. The heating fuel industry in Vermont is booking into December to do inspections, repairs, and replacements.
Vermont Daily also asked: “Governor, you mentioned opening up the economy and more travel as reasons for the increase in positive cases. Is there any data or informed opinion to show how much this could be due to people spending more time inside?”
I think it’s obvious that it’s much safer to be outside than inside,” Scott responded. “We expect some of the uptick of the cases to be as a result of being inside…. particularly when we gather in larger groups, without the proper ventilation,” Scott said.
In other Covid news from the press conference:
- In his discussion of the proposed vaccination distribution plan, Health Commissioner Mark Levine mentioned offhand a vaccine might be available “by the end of the year.” VPR reporter Pete Hirschfeld picked up on the comment and asked him if he has more specific information about vaccine development. Levine said his review of the vaccine development process, plus Dr. Anthony Fauci’s expressed hope of a vaccine by year’s end, informed his opinion.
The more sobering news is once the vaccine is available, Vermont likely will only receive a couple hundred doses at the onset of distribution.
- WCAX reporter Celine McArthur asked Gov. Scott and Com. Levine if any positive cases have been contact-traced back to hair salons. “I’m not aware of a specific case that came to mind,” Levine said. “That means either we’re too strict and need to be loosening up, or we’re just strict enough.”
“Until there’s a vaccine in place, we’re going to have to mitigate this in an imperfect way,” Scott said. Grant funding is available to assist businesses affected by Covid restrictions, an administration official said. Scott added, “We’re going to need more….from Congress to help salons and restaurants survive.”
Instate no-travel area? Andrew McGregor of the Caledonian-Record of St. Johnsbury noted that Grafton County in New Hampshire is a no-travel area on the Vermont Covid map, even though it has fewer cases per capita than Vermont’s Washington County, which has 596 cases per million. “Should Vermonters avoid non-essential travel to Washington County?” he asked. Scott seemed to favor instate travel caution: “They should be careful, they should be wary. We can’t shut down Vermont in some respects, but we can be more diligent moving forward.”
PHOTO: Temporary fuel storage tanks may be provided by the State of Vermont to homeowners with “red tagged” fuel tanks that have failed inspection and may not be filled with fuel, despite the coming cold weather. Credit: Commtank.com.