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Vt. House approves Global Warming Solutions Act – WCAX

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont lawmakers Friday took action to advance a climate change bill that calls for the state to meet strict carbon emission reduction targets or face legal consequences.

The House approved the Global Warming Solutions Act, a bill that would require that by 2025 Vermont reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 26% below the 2005 amount and 80% below by 2050. It would be enforced by a new 21-member Vermont Climate Council made up of state officials, experts, and other members of the public.

“Today we take an important step to make good on our promises to Vermonters for meaningful climate action,” said Rep. Selene Colburn, P-Burlington, following Thursday’s preliminary vote.

Supporters say the bill will slash climate-damaging emissions, grow jobs, help rural and low-income Vermonters, and build resilient communities throughout the state.

“The climate emergency is already impacting our communities,” Conservation Law Foundation’s Jen Duggan said in a statement. “If we’re serious about tackling this crisis, strong climate laws like the Solutions Act are the answer. We are running out of time, but the strong vote today and the leadership in the House shows we can still get back on track to cut emissions and build healthy and resilient communities if we take action now.”

Gov. Phil Scott and other Republicans have expressed caution about the bill, saying the state could get caught in legal battles that could take money away from other climate efforts like weatherizing more homes and incentives for electric cars.

“I cannot condone the placement of authority that belongs in this
body to a council of persons that have no accountability to the public. I cannot agree that we shift the balance of power and delegate our authority. I cannot stand and represent my constituency and at the same time vote to remove their voices from this crucial conversation,” said Felisha Leffler, R-Enosburg, in explaining her vote.

H. 688 passed by a 105 to 37 veto-proof margin. It now heads to the Senate.