Governor's commission completes
two-year climate change report
Oct 26, 2007 - Lisa Rathke -The Associated
A governor's commission charged with
making recommendations on how to curb greenhouse gas
emissions recommended that the state expand energy
efficiency programs, support renewable energy and
team up with its colleges and universities to develop
a "green economy" in Vermont.
In its final report released Friday,
the six-member panel concluded the state could serve
as a national model and urged the governor to extend
the state's energy efficiency programs for electricity
and gas to heating oil and other fuels and explore
ways to boost investments in renewable energy, such
as wind power.
After nearly two years of research,
the climate change commission also recommended a long-term
relationship between the state an its academic institutions,
led by the University of Vermont. The partnership
would oversee research and outreach on climate change
and encourage the creation of innovations and jobs
related to environmental technologies.
"This bridges two Vermont powerhouses,
state government at all levels and higher education,"
said the commission's chairman, Ernie Pomerleau, a
Burlington developer. "It creates a model for Vermont
that can deliver on the governor's ambitious climate
change goals. If Vermont is going to be successful
in creating a new green economy, developing a sustainable
partnership and delivery system is essential." Two
years ago Gov. Jim Douglas set goals of reducing Vermont's
greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels
by 2012 and 50 percent by 2028.
To reduce vehicle emissions, the report
suggested incentives for reduced travel or low emissions
vehicles and expanding public transportation. It also
recommended keeping open Vermont's farm and forest
land "to sequester carbon from the atmosphere" to
reduce greenhouse gas pollution and creation of a
state division to coordinate climate change efforts
in state government.
Douglas was pleased the commission
was able to come to a consensus, his spokesman said.
"He is looking forward to reviewing
the recommendations and expects to make an announcement
regarding next steps in the near future," Jason Gibbs
Renewable energy advocate James Moore
of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group called
the report a "road map to support our economy and
reduce global warming pollution at the same time."
But he said his group would act as
a watchdog to see if the governor takes the recommendations
and actually acts on them.
He said the first recommendation is
for an all-fuels utility that will help Vermonters
reduce heating and electricity bill, which the governor
vetoed in the last legislative session.
But Gibbs said the governor didn't oppose
expanding efficiency efforts; he opposed the funding
"So as a matter of policy he certainly
supports efforts that are going to help Vermonters
reduce the cost of heating their homes and therefore
their CO2 emissions," Gibbs said.
The second recommendation calls for
support of renewable energy, such as wind power, which
the governor has opposed on a large scale. But Gibbs
said the governor supported other forms of renewable
energy such as biofuels or solar power.
"I sincerely hope the governor is open
to listening to this independent commission and the
diverse stake holder group that put together the original
policies," Moore said.