Commissioners described ways to wean the state off fossil fuels in the transportation and heating sector, store carbon in forests and farmland, and develop a “climate economy” that will attract millennials and entrepreneurs. The meeting took place in an almost empty room in the Statehouse, three weeks after the initial release of their recommendations report.
Several commissioners went beyond the 53 recommendations in the report, advocating that without a carbon emissions cap like Quebec and California, Vermont would not buck the trend of rising emissions. While the state has renewable standards for electricity, no such standards exist to reduce fossil fuel use in transportation or heating.
“In short, markets don’t move without market signals and the policies and regulations to set the rules of the road,” he said.
The governor did not commit to specific actions during the meeting, but said that he and his administration would further review the report and incorporate recommendations into next year’s budget. Scott added that he felt Vermonters, many of whom support local agriculture, would similarly support increased energy independence. “That’s what we’ll be looking for, are areas that give us the most benefit that Vermonters will appreciate and rally behind.”
The governor cautioned the measures would take time to implement, an approach he signaled some would find unacceptable.
“It may not be all in one year, but year after year we’ll build upon those successes,” he added. “As a centrist myself, as a moderate, I’m accustomed to being criticized from both the left and the right, and I suspect this will be the same.”
While some advocated for capping emissions, there was no talk of a carbon tax. In January,
Scott rejected the commission’s recommendation that the state obtain an impartial review of carbon tax strategies to curb emissions. The governor said only the federal government is in a position to study a carbon tax.
In their report, the commission made reference to the difficulty of reaching the goal and made reference to the possible need for a regulatory approach, including a carbon tax.