House gives final approval to permit reform bill

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The Vermont House gave its final approval on Tuesday to a bill that reforms the environmental permitting process in the state. The vote of 114-to-24 ended a 15-month legislative battle. A conference committee made up of House and Senate members haggled over details of the legislation for about eleven months.

The bill consolidates the Water Resources Board, the Environmental Board, and other Vermont boards into a single environmental court. Democratic critics of the bill say it will do nothing to improve Vermont’s business climate, which was a major selling point put forth by Governor Jim Douglas and other Republicans.

The bill now goes to Douglas for his signature. Reforming the environmental permit system has been one of Douglas’ top priorities.

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