This week is known as crossover week in the Vermont State House, when the House and Senate move bills out of committee and onto the floor to be voted upon. Bills that pass in the House then cross over to the Senate and vice-versa, for further discussion and final voting.
And what of climate change legislation? Many ambitious climate and energy bills have been proposed, but unfortunately, have languished in committee.
Is the political will of Vermonters lacking?
Climate groups filled with citizens concerned about rising greenhouse gas emissions have sprung up all over the state. On Town Meeting Day, 16 towns passed resolutions to urge the state to ban any new fossil fuel infrastructure. Between last year and this year, 55 towns have sent this message to Montpelier. Yet, two bills in the House and one in the Senate to prohibit new fossil fuel infrastructure have not been taken up by committees.
Is the political will of our elected legislators lacking?
Thirty-three legislators have sponsored one bill alone to prohibit all new fossil fuel infrastructure. There are over 10 bills in the House and Senate that are designed to mitigate our rising greenhouse gas emissions. A record 80 legislators joined the Climate Caucus this year.
So, what is the problem?
At the beginning of the legislative season, Gov. Phil Scott, Senate Pro Tempore Tim Ashe and Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson stated no carbon legislation would be taken up this session, that Vermont is too small to go it alone, that we must wait until other states join us.
The answer seems clear. Leadership is lacking. The political will of the people is there and a record number of legislators have proposed climate change legislation. We must convince our leaders that now is the time to enact strong climate legislation. Vermont has led the nation before, and we can lead again, this time on legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
After all, we are not called the “Brave Little State” for nothing.