MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed a bill that would have created a clean heat standard for Vermont to help the state reduce emissions from heating buildings to meet the state’s climate change commitments.
Scott said in his veto message on Friday that the legislation does not include details on the costs and impacts, which he said he has repeatedly asked the Legislature to include.
“I understand the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which is why I proposed a $216 million dollar climate package and why my administration has engaged in this policy conversation since January,” he said in a statement.
“What the Legislature has passed is a bill that includes some policy, with absolutely no details on costs and impacts, and a lot of authority and policy making delegated to the Public Utility Commission (PUC), an unelected board,” he added.
Heating buildings makes up about 35% of Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the state’s second largest source of emissions, after transportation, Vermont Public Radio reported.
The bill called on the Public Utilities Commission to create regulations to reduce fossil fuel use in buildings and develop a clean heat credit program, in which businesses that import such fuels for heat would have to buy or create “clean heat credits” based on how much their products emit, VPR reported.
They could create credits by helping people reduce emissions in their homes and businesses, such as through weatherization, installing cold climate heat pumps or switching to high efficiency wood heat.
Legislative leaders said they are disappointed because they believe the bill met the governor’s requirements. They are considering whether they want to try to override the veto.
Johanna Miller, a member of the state Climate Council who is also the energy and climate program director for the Vermont Natural Resources Council, said it’s critical that the state move forward with a clean heat standard.
“The veto of the clean heat standard throws into question the state’s ability to deliver on our statutorily required and now legal obligation to reduce pollution across the board in the state of Vermont,” Miller said.
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