Citizen group offers Legislator Contact Tool
By Guy Page
The Vermont House today is scheduled to vote on Gov. Phil Scott’s Friday afternoon veto of H715, the controversial Clean Heat Standard.
The bill requires the Vermont Public Utilities Commission to devise a plan to replace carbon-based heating fuel with electric heat, weatherization and other heating sources. Supporters say it’s a difficult but crucial step to reducing Vermont’s carbon footprint. Opponents say it’s a highly bureaucratic government intrusion into the free market relationship between buyers and sellers, will increase heating and housing costs, and will do little to improve the environment.
Scott vetoed the bill because it lacked an adequate “checkback” requiring an up-and-down legislative vote on the PUC plan, due for review in about two years.
Here’s what’s known about the Demcratic House and Senate leaders’ efforts to override Gov. Scott’s veto:
- The House is scheduled to vote this afternoon, at a session that begins at 1 pm. H715 passed in the House without a checkback by 96-44 vote on March 16, and with a partial checkback by an 88-37 vote on May 3.
- The vote – if it happens today – will be very close. Neither Democratic nor Republican legislative leaders are confidently predicting victory. If House Speaker Jill Krowinski skips over a vote today, it will indicate that – today, at least – she lacks the 100 votes needed to override the veto. Some State House observers predict the vote will be held tomorrow, when more lawmakers are expected to be present.
- The Clean Heat Standard faces opposition from both traditional, pro-business, small-government voices and some environmental organizations, including Vermonters for Clean Energy, led by environmental leaders often aligned with the political ‘left,’ including Annette Smith and former gubernatorial candidate James Ehlers.
“The goal of establishing a Clean Heat Standard is to report overall reduction in emissions through buying and trading credits, rather than reducing pollution at source,” Smith said in an op-ed published today in Vermont Daily Chronicle. “These greenwashing schemes allow corporations to profit through buying and selling credits in what is essentially a shell game.”
- The Senate passed the CHS 23-7. However, some senator Republicans believe enough Democrats may cross over to deliver the necessary 11 votes to sustain the veto.
- A citizen advocacy group, Vermont Stands Up, is urging Vermonters to use its Legislator Contact Tool to express their wishes to legislators. Below is a House legislative roll call from the 88-37 vote, indicating how each lawmaker voted on the bill vetoed by Gov. Scott.
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