Vermont State House Headliners

Pot commission, deadline up in the air

VT rakes in million$$ from RGGI ‘cap & trade’

Guv: power line could pay for Lake cleanup

‘Solarfest’ hometown sour on 5-acre solar farm

VT Yankee $$ warms schools, helps loggers

Assisted-death groups oppose physician freedom

Iran refuses call for UN nuclear inspection

By Guy Page

Earlier this summer, Gov. Phil Scott announced plans for a marijuana legalization study commission. Update: the commission members have not been named, and there’s no deadline for reporting to the Vermont Legislature, a senior administration official confirmed last week. The intention is still to have a report ready by January, the official said.

Vermont receives million$$ from other states

in regional carbon “cap and trade”

Last week state officials praised a plan for higher penalties for power plant greenhouse gas emissions in the nine northeastern member states, including Vermont, of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. But if you’re worried these penalties will come out of Vermont’s pocket — don’t be! Instead, we benefit. RGGI is a “pay to pollute” cap and trade system that takes money from states where fossil fuel power is generated, and gives it to states with little or no FF generation — like Vermont, which passed on coal and gas plant construction in favor of Vermont Yankee, hydro, and more recently wind, biomass and solar power. Since Vermont Yankee closed, Vermont now consumes more FF power, but because the power is made elsewhere (mostly in southern New England), we don’t pay the RGGI penalties. Instead, Vermont weatherization programs have received more than $19 million in RGGI payments total since 2008. Julie Moore, VT Secretary of Agency of Natural Resources, said in an August 23 press release: “RGGI has proved incredibly successful at driving down emissions from the power sector in a way that puts money back in Vermonters’ pockets.” True that! But be warned: Vermonters will pay more if Vermont bills H.273, H.394, and/or S.66, leading to ‘cap and trade’ on Vermont home heat and transportation, pass in next year’s session.

Gov. Scott wants underwater transmission line

to pay for Lake Champlain cleanup

At his press conference in Barre last Thursday, Gov. Scott was asked by reporters where the money will come from for the hugely expensive cleanup of Lake Champlain. His specific, emphatic answer: he hopes much of it will come from the TDI Clean Power Link, one of several competing Northern New England power projects proposed to deliver renewable Canadian electricity to southern New England. TDI has pledged about $200 million in lake cleanup funds.

Gov. Scott will be the Keynote Speaker at the ISO-NE Consumer Liaison Group quarterly luncheon September 7 at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock. The subject of the noon-4 pm gathering is trends in regional energy transmission. The luncheon and meeting is free and open to all but pre-registration is necessary.

Hometown of historic “Solarfest” sours on local solar project

For two decades, early promoters and enthusiasts of solar power held a “Solarfest” in Middletown Springs, a small Rutland County town. But now many residents oppose a large-scale solar project that would replace a local apple orchard with five acres of solar panels, Michael Bielawski of True North reported August 29.

VY settlement money creates new demand for VT wood

Fortunately for Vermont schools and for Vermont’s forestry and renewable power economy, a $1.6 million commitment by Vermont Yankee to the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund has helped fund the installation of new wood-burning furnaces and infrastructure for three Windham County schools, with five more in the works, the Vermont Energy Partnership reports.

The benefit of building wood-fired heat in public schools extends beyond Windham County to the entire Vermont economy and to our state’s contribution to reducing greenhouse gases. Vermont’s logging industry faces serious problems, including an aging workforce, prohibitive workers’ compensation costs, and dwindling pulpwood demand from our increasingly paperless society. For an industry yearning for hope, the cost-effective transition of public buildings to wood heat creates a large potential market.

Pro-assisted death groups oppose physician freedom agreement

Earlier this year, the State of Vermont and a federal judge agreed that Act 39, Vermont’s assisted death law, does not require doctors to inform terminally-ill patients about assisted suicide. Instead, doctors may direct questions to another physician. On August 23, this legal agreement was challenged by two assisted-death groups.

The groups, Compassion & Choices and Patient Choices Vermont, say the agreement “causes confusion about physician obligations to patients.” See Vermont Digger for more details.

Iran refuses U.N. nuclear inspection;

Israeli consul general visits VT this week

Iran is ignoring a request by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley for UN inspection of military sites to determine compliance with the 2015 Iran/U.N. nuclear weapons development agreement, the Associated Press reported August 29. An Iranian government spokesperson called Haley’s request “a dream.”

Also, Consul General of Israel to New England Yehuda Yaakov will be in Vermont this week for two events:

· Wednesday, August 30, 7 PM in Montpelier at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, 135 Main (corner of School St.), refreshments will be served.

· Thursday, August 31st, 9 AM in Burlington at Ahavath Gerim Synagogue, 168 Archibald Street Breakfast will be served Sara Frank Chapter of Hadassah in Vermont in collaboration with Jewish Communities of Vermont, Ruach HaMaqom and UVM Hillel.