05/31/2007

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas' promise to veto the one significant piece of legislation to come out of the 2007 session is a waste of energy.

The legislation is a serious attempt to address energy usage and conservation in Vermont. It creates a tax on Vermont Yankee, a heating fuels efficiency plan and other critical items, such as expansion of net metering (which allows people with solar panels and micro-hydro to generate their own power and sell it back to the utilities), tax credits for energy efficiency measures and serious conservation education and assistance programs.

The bill is aimed directly at reducing the amount of energy Vermonters use and reduction/efficiency have been identified as the most significant thing to be done to reduce global warming. A May 29 article in The New York Times, featuring conservation measures taken by Green Mountain Coffee, Waterbury, makes that point succinctly.

"Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are getting a lot of attention these days as a way to reduce the impact of energy use on the environment. But even enthusiastic supporters of alternative energy agree that the easiest way to cut carbon emissions and air pollution is to focus more on efficiency, less on pollution-free generation," wrote reporter Matthew Wald in the Times business story, entitled "Efficiency, Not Just Alternatives, Is Promoted as an Energy Saver."


The Vermont bill would use payments that already go to Efficiency Vermont and new taxes on Vermont Yankee to target conservation measures. The bill has the support of many Vermont corporations which have discovered that energy conservation enhances the bottom line and reduces the state's contribution to global warming.
 
Governor Douglas, touting concern for the state's businesses, claims the bill will be bad for the bottom line. That is the type of short-term thinking which makes today's business climate more important than the climate of the planet.

It's the type of short-term thinking which -- if continued -- will lead to more carbon emissions, not less. And it's the type of short-term thinking that will lead to the need for building more power plants and more power infrastructure -- the cost of which will assuredly not help anybody's bottom line.

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