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Opinion: Phil Scott falls short on climate change, renewables

After 18 years of living in the best place of my life, I will be leaving Vermont for California. I do this reluctantly, but my son lives there and my wife and I want to be nearer to him. I won’t even be able to vote here in the upcoming elections, but I still would like to weigh in on the importance of the gubernatorial race. I will express two significant concerns I have about Phil Scott and therefore why I feel Vermont should elect a Democrat.
First there is climate change and renewable energy. We need to keep these issues front and center to help protect and preserve Vermont’s environment and to continue working toward the goals of Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan. As to Governor Shumlin’s record on these issues, while we can argue about his support of natural gas as a bridge fuel, he has taken some bold stances on climate change that, for one thing, has lead to many thousands of Vermonters employed in a clean energy economy.
Democratic candidates, particularly Sue Minter and Matt Dunne, have specific strategies for moving forward on these issues. Phil Scott has never had much to say about climate change and renewable energy. To date, these issues are not even addressed on his campaign website, unlike for all the other gubernatorial candidates. Rather, he uses his Thunder Road race car as a prop in his campaign.
This leads to my other concern: Phil Scott’s character. I have headed an organization in Vermont that raises awareness of unnecessary idling — the harm and waste of allowing vehicle engines to run while parked. A recent UVM study of passenger vehicles alone shows that Vermonters, idling on a discretionary basis, emit 36,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, which equates to consuming four million gallons of fuel. To mitigate this situation, the legislature enacted legislation that led to Vermont’s prohibited idling of motor vehicles law in 2014. But education remains the key.
For the last five years, funded projects have allowed us to bring an idle-free message to Vermonters, both before fleet operators and in the school community. Our school outreach has included guest-lecturing before thousands of students on the benefits of being idle-free. One slide in the presentations shown is aimed at students who are performance car enthusiasts (as I myself once was). It features former Thunder Road racer, Eric Williams, endorsing the fact that avoiding unnecessary idling is smart, lessening needless engine wear and fuel waste. But in seeking someone of greater stature who could have more of an impact on these new drivers, who better than Lieutenant Governor and Thunder Road champion, Phil Scott?
He has talked up his “Open Door Policy” with Vermonters, so I sought an endorsement from him, writing several thoughtful letters (including a certified letter) over three years. But he never responded. I didn’t necessarily expect him to agree. But I had no idea that such a seemingly nice guy like Phil Scott would completely ignore my request. I can only conclude that Phil Scott is not serious on climate change and renewable energy, and that he exhibits discourteousness, neither of which is good for Vermont.

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