Capitol Hill lawmakers consider global warming impact on Vermont

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Lawmakers considered the impact of global warming on outdoor recreation yesterday on Capitol Hill.

Experts and lawmakers say skiing and snowmobiling in Vermont is already being hurt.

Benjamin Shaw reports from Washington.

(Shaw) Vermont Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders sits on the Senate Environmental Committee – the panel looking into this issue.

(Sanders) “In the state of Vermont Snowmobiling is not only a significant industry in terms of bringing money into our rural areas, but it is a recreational activity for ten and tens of thousands of Vermonters.”

(Shaw) Sanders says many in the state also use snowmobiles as transportation to get to school or work.

He says the past few winters without much snow have taken their toll.

(Sanders) “People in the snowmobile industry people in the ski industry have lost substantial sums of money. People are not coming to the state of Vermont to ski to snowmobile when there is not snow.”

(Shaw) Bryant Watson directs the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers.

He says Vermont is a Mecca for those who love winter sports. And that snowmobilers alone contribute $500 million to the state’s economy.

(Watson) “Recreation in general brings in $2.5 billion to the state of Vermont’s economy on an annual basis.”

(Shaw) He says without snow, this industry could loose millions.

(Watson) “I fear for that impact on winter recreation.”

(Shaw) No Republican members of the committee came to the hearing. Sanders was one of five Democrats present.

(Sanders) “Global warming is the challenge of the time.”

(Shaw) And he says if it’s not addressed quickly, future generations will not have the same outside beauty to enjoy.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Benjamin Shaw on Capitol Hill.

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