Douglas wants to enact key pieces of energy bill

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says he wants to enact key pieces of an energy bill he vetoed.

But critics say most of what the governor will do involves studies and recommendations, not real changes in energy policy.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Douglas turned up the political heat over the global warming bill, known as H-520. He said it was irresponsible to raise taxes on the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. And he objected to the expanded energy conservation program that the bill would create.

But the governor says he likes parts of the bill.

(Douglas) “I recognize that H-520 contains opportunities to move toward greater conservation and reduction of greenhouse gases. That’s why I met this morning with my cabinet to begin the implementation of the vast majority of the provisions in that bill.

(Dillon) But Douglas acknowledged that some provisions such as changes to the tax code to help wind projects need legislative approval.

And many of the things he’s asked his cabinet to do involve studies or requests for additional regulatory action.

James Moore of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group says there’s a big difference between making recommendations, and reforming energy policy in law.

(Moore) “I’ve read through all 23 of his quote unquote implementation items. And the words – investigate, report, review, consider, provide the recommendation, that’s all that’s really there.”

(Dillon) Douglas said the state already does a lot to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And he says climate change is not the top issue for Vermonters.

(Douglas) “I realize there’s been a lot of emotional discussion, a lot of very unfriendly comments about me and letters to the editor by a lot of people supporting the bill. But I have to tell you as I go around Vermont people don’t come up to me and say, gosh, what about that veto?’ No, they come up to me and ask, what are you going to do about property taxes? What are you going to do about creating more and better paying jobs?'”

(Dillon) Democrats say their bill would have led to new jobs in the energy field. And they’re clearly hope the governor will pay a political price for his veto.

That’s not how Douglas sees it.

(Douglas) “I think the big losers yesterday are the Democrats. They decided to bring the Legislature back and suffered two defeats.”

(Dillon) But East Montpelier Democrat Tony Klein says his party didn’t lose.

(Klein) “Vermonters lost in this bill. Democrats didn’t lose. The Democratic Party doesn’t win or lose. We’re up there trying to pass legislation that’s trying to better the lives of Vermonters. And we got no legislation passed, because he stood in the way.”

(Dillon) Douglas says he didn’t use his veto power lightly. And he says he hopes for a more civil tone
in future dealings with the Legislature.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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