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Legislative Review: Sen. Bray cites progress on energy, environment

Like many Vermonters, I am dissatisfied with the political maneuvering at the end of this legislative session that led to adjournment without any progress on family medical leave and minimum wage. I have already reached out to colleagues to ensure we fix the underlying issues for next session.
Meanwhile, in the area of my own work and responsibilities, Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, which I chair, there is a lot to celebrate.
This year I returned more committed then ever to make real progress on environmental and energy issues — including changing the story on some of our biggest challenges — by creating pathways for enduring, long-term gains.
Working with my colleagues in the Senate and House, I led the development of a record number of bills to help Vermonters enjoy a stronger economy in a cleaner, healthier environment:
S.96, CLEAN WATER — creates, for the first time, dedicated, ongoing, and increasing funding for Vermont’s Clean Water work — investing in our future and meeting our EPA requirement. We also enhance how the state partners with towns and many other water quality actors throughout the state.
S.49, PFAS — takes statewide action to ensure PFAS testing for all public water supplies, as well as regulating toxic chemicals by class rather than by single chemical — an unacceptably slow process that leaves Vermonters vulnerable to these poisons.
S.113, PLASTICS — bans statewide, effective 7/1/20, single-use plastic bags, straws, stirrers, and expanded polystyrene (“styrofoam”).
We also set up a working group to explore an Extended Producer Responsibility program (like the one we have for household paint) so that the producers of plastic packaging will own a role in its proper disposal. Thinking and planning ahead saves money and the environment.
H.63, WEATHERIZATION FOR ALL — increases by approximately 800 homes per year the funding for weatherization, which saves the average homeowner $600/year in fuel costs while improving owner health (cleaner indoor air) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
We also start an ALL-FUELS energy efficiency program to deliver savings and environmental benefits for all fuel uses: generating electricity, heating our homes and businesses, and transporting goods and ourselves.
Plus, we create a working group to help develop a home and business energy rating system. Think of this as having the MPG sticker you can consult when you buy a car.
S.12, STATE ENERGY EFFICIENCY — we expand and continue a successful four-year-old program to make state buildings more energy efficient. State government must lead by example.
S.30, HFCs — Vermont will join California and more than a dozen other progressive states in phasing out hydrofluorocarbons, which are 1,000 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
H.292, ADVANCED WOOD HEAT — We solved a regulatory stalemate that was blocking the use of cleaner, more efficient wood chip boilers. This enables in-state sales of these units and builds the market for local wood instead of foreign oil to heat our homes, businesses, and schools.
H.133, MISCELLANEOUS ENERGY — We also revised the statutes for the Department of Public Service and the Public Utility Commission to improve their day-to-day operations and work with the public.
Some of this work is groundbreaking, and some is more subtle, but all of it is how we are changing the story for the long-run. In the coming months, I will be working with others to prepare for next session — to push further to create a stronger, healthier Vermont.
The New Haven Democrat represents Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore.

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