Editor’s note: this op-ed was submitted to many lawmakers before today’s scheduled override vote in the House of Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of H715, the Clean Heat Standard establishing a state bureaucracy to transition heating in Vermont away from fossil fuels.
by Alison Despathy
So many Vermonters and small Vermont businesses are deeply concerned about this legislation and its risks and detrimental impacts. We have been desperately reaching out to implore a halt to this impulsive, hasty, unclear and potentially dangerous legislation. We are trying – so many are trying.
In the garden today, I was thinking about the many amazing Vermonters who are committed to the land and to each other. There is a massive high priority in this state to support local farms, drive less, carpool, use clotheslines, have gardens, homestead and other practices, philosophies and lifestyles that respect the land, the environment and will help ensure abundance and prosperity for the future generations.
Doesn’t this count? Look at what the people are already doing to support and take care of the earth, to live sustainably in the truest sense of the word- to live lightly on the earth. There are so many leaders here who are forging paths for permaculture, regenerative farming, sustainable farming practices, farm to business, farm to school, Community Supported Agriculture programs, alternative energy solutions and system designs and building practices that all work to conserve energy and promote a clean lifestyle. Please recognize what people have been willing to do and want to do to live in concert and connection with the land, our environments and each other. Please trust the people.
These are real solutions. Vermonters are good people and care deeply for the earth and each other and health. Forcing the Clean Heat Standard on the people and small businesses is disastrous on so many levels and really disrespects what the people are already trying to do in the ways that they can everyday. There are not clear rewards on this legislation – for the people or the environment. It is already apparent that these systems will be inefficient and result in higher costs for people and businesses. This is truly concerning to Vermonters and it’s why people have been voicing their opinions and concerns. Please hear us.
There are real solutions, measurable solutions that will help the people, the economy and the environment. Please consider:
-Continued funding and incentives for intensive weatherization programs including windows, insulation and high efficiency diversified, heating systems
-Programs to help Vermonters access efficient appliances.
-Incentives for solar system installs if these are indeed proving to help put energy back into the grid system. Reduced power bills also help many Vermonters.
-Tackling high priority problems that damage our land and water systems such as the high use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers which leach into and contaminate the earth and the people. Programs and aid to help farmers transition out of the use of these chemicals and into more sustainable practices would have a massive impact on the health of the people and the environment.
The Global Solutions Committee is not offering real solutions for Vermont. It is a monster, specifically a hydra because it will keep expanding its power with more unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who have one focus in mind and that is carbon and reduction of fossil fuels and the regulation of people and industry through this approach. And although this many be one aspect of the problem, real solutions reside in integrated systems that not only reduce energy use but also have noticeable, obvious, science-based benefits on the environment and the people.
The integration of renewable energy is organically evolving in this state while people seek heating and energy systems that are diverse, clean and would also offer coverage in a grid failure. Please allow the ingenuity and creative brilliance of Vermonters to continue to shine through and rise as we lead the country in truly sustainable lifestyles.
The Clean Heat Standard is NOT this, it is NOT a real solution or a good solution. This will cause harm to many Vermonters who are already working hard to live lightly on the earth. This would be a punishment for the people and local economy. This is industry driven legislation, it does not serve the people or the environment. Thus there is no justification.
The author is a St. Johnsbury-based clinical nutritionist.