State gets poor grade on global warming pollution reduction

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(Host) An environmental group gives Vermont a poor grade for its efforts to reduce global warming pollution.

But the Douglas Administration disagrees. It says the state is a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) It’s been five years since six New England governors and five eastern Canadian premiers signed a regional climate change plan. The goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, and then to cut emission by at least ten percent below by 2020.

(Hudson) “We are no where near on pace to meet the goals of the New England governors’ agreement.”

(Dillon) Drew Hudson is field director for VPRIG. The group gives Vermont a C- overall for its efforts to cut the pollution blamed for global warning.

Hudson says the news isn’t all bad. He says an innovative energy efficiency program has reduced pollution and conserved electricity. He also credits the state for developing stringent measures to cut emissions from cars.

But Hudson blames the Douglas Administration for standing in the way of large-scale wind energy projects.

(Hudson) “We must move beyond talk about renewable energy and begin actually permitting and siting new renewable energy generation in this state, especially commercial wind power.”

(Dillon) Environmental commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg is the administration’s point-person on climate change issues. He says the VPIRG report has some contradictions.

(Wennberg) “The way I read the release is that VPIRG is kind of clouding the important kind of vital climate change issue with their own political agenda. Certainly, renewable energy is a critical component in terms of reducing emissions from electric generation. But Vermont is a national leader. We have at least according to one respected measure, the lowest emissions of carbon dioxide per capita, in the nation.”

(Dillon) The VPIRG report card was released as activists prepare to march from Addison County to Burlington to call for action on climate change.

Bill McKibben is an environmentalist and author who 20 years ago wrote the first major book on global warming. He says the scientists he interviewed then are even more alarmed now because the planet is warming faster than predicted. He’s hoping that hundreds of Vermonters join in the demonstration this weekend.

(McKibben) “It’s time for everyone who cares about this issue to get noisy. Not to get any less rational But it’s time to make some noise about it, to begin to try to be as loud as the Exxon lobbyist is loud. We don’t have millions of dollars to be loud. All we have is people who can walk and raise their voices. And that’s what’s going to be happening this weekend in Vermont.”

(Dillon) McKibben says he expects the march over the Labor Day weekend will be the largest demonstration to date on global warming.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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