Global warming bill advances in Vt senate

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(Host) The Senate has advanced a bill that sponsors say would make Vermont a leader in the fight against global warming.

The bill would put into law many recommendations from the governor’s commission on climate change.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Chittenden Senator Ginny Lyons is the chairwoman of the Natural Resources Committee. She told the Senate that the legislation will help Vermont seize financial opportunities presented by climate change.

The bill says the state will keep a detailed inventory of its carbon dioxide emissions. Lyons says that information will give Vermont a head start for the time when financial markets will reward regions for reducing the pollution that causes global warming.

(Lyons) “As we begin to save greenhouse gases and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this state we will be able to measure those savings. Well, if we can measure those savings, we can trade those savings, and we can trade those on a regional or national market. It puts money back into the state.”

(Dillon) James Moore of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group says the bill builds on recommendations from a gubernatorial commission on climate change.

(Moore) “It codifies Vermont’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, makes those mandatory and requires state agencies to implement the plan that the governor’s commission delivered to them that will reduce emissions and save Vermonters money.”

(Dillon) Those goals include cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.

The commission recommended an expansion of the state’s energy conservation programs. And it said the state should keep farm and forest land open, so the growing plants can absorb carbon dioxide.

The legislation says farms can combat climate change in another way. The state’s dairy cows release methane – a potent greenhouse gas. So the legislation sets a goal of collecting 15 percent of the manure for use in methane digesters, which convert the gas to energy.

Senator Lyons said the bill should help farms band together to build the digesters.

(Lyons) “We have farms that aren’t quite big enough to have sufficient manure to digest and generate electricity. How can we have a couple of farms, or three or four farms, come together – it’s not as easy as it sounds – and build a digester. And what kinds of regulator relief or changes are needed to encourage that?”

(Dillon) One energy conservation provision was dropped at the last minute. Lawmakers wanted to stop condominium associations from banning clotheslines.

Windsor Democrat Dick McCormack says drying clothes in the open air saves energy. But many condo associations ban the practice because they consider clotheslines unsightly.

But McCormack’s “Right to Dry" language was pulled from the bill because of concerns that it was too restrictive.

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


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