by VTIPL Board Member Richard Butz
As we head toward the midpoint of the legislative season in Vermont, I think it is useful to take a breather and assess where we are in relationship to climate policy in the state.
In the last several years. a lot has happened. The Global Warming Solutions Act was passed that MANDATES reductions of greenhouse gases in Vermont; the Climate Council has presented its report to the legislature recommending how the mandates can be accomplished; major bills are being been drafted; the administration has proposed its goals and budget; unprecedented amounts of federal money have flowed in; and the climate crisis, yes crisis, becomes more dire with every scientific report.
So, what do we make of this? In meetings of the Act on Climate Coalition (www.actonclimate.com), we learn that the Vermont Legislature and the administration are swamped. All these issues may seem simple to us, but are actually incredibly complicated, and our legislators and administration have to navigate them while taking care of “ordinary” business.
As we try to “Build Back Better,” it is also imperative that we take this opportunity to address the wrongs that have accumulated regarding those who have been left out or cast out. So, added to the list is the need to bake climate justice into everything we do from this point forth. You’ll see this in the legislation and governmental policy going forward – I believe our legislators are committed to it, and as people of faith, we are too.
With these things in mind, we first need to understand that our legislators and Governor have a herculean task confronting them, and we need to thank them. Secondly, we need to educate ourselves about priorities. I strongly recommend that all read Vermont Conservation Voters’ Vermont’s 2022 Environmental Common Agenda of legislative priorities available on their website: Vermont’s 2022 Environmental Common Agenda
After getting up to date on the issues and priorities, we need to act by contacting our legislators and administration to let them know we are paying attention and inform them of our priorities. At this point, I suggest we call, email, or write to our legislators and tell them: “We are people of faith who care about our kids’ and grandkids’ future on this Earth. We know climate change is affecting us right now. We know it will get worse if we don’t act right now, and we want our representatives and Governor to act decisively right now. We must pass legislation and allocate significant funding to immediately begin reducing our greenhouse gas emissions right now, starting with bottom-up programs that relieve pressure on those who are often most affected, the poor and those who have historically been left out. We don’t have time to waste; our house really is burning.
- Call the Sergeant-at-Arms office to have a message given directly to your legislator at 802-828-2228. This is particularly useful if they are voting on a particular bill; pages will run the message right to legislators’
- Find your legislators’ emails and phone numbers at https://legislature.vermont.gov
- You can find a link to contact Governor Scott at https://governor.vermont.gov
Thank you for taking action for our future, our childrens’
and our grandchildrens’ future, and the future of Mother Earth.