Letter to the editor: Time is now for action on Affordable Heating Act

I read with dismay in the most recent edition of the Independent that the Affordable Heating Act, S.5, has been put on hold, and will become another study for the two years, of what to do to address climate change. So, we are kicking the can down the road again, as we have done for decades, at least since Ronald Reagan took down the White House solar panels installed by his predecessor, Jimmy Carter in the mid-70s. 

I was in attendance at last week’s Legislative Breakfast and listened to the concern of fuel dealers and employees for the bill, the theoretical impact S.5 would have on their low-and middle-income customers, though the bill specifically works to address the needs of low- and middle-income Vermonters as they transition to clean energy sources. 

What I didn’t hear was any concern for consumers struggling to pay fuel bills that have spiked markedly in the past few years. I didn’t hear any concern for other sectors of the economy such as farmers, loggers, the ski industry and more who have been forced to adapt to the climate change impacts Vermont is experiencing. There was no concern expressed for coming generations who will be dealing with the environmental, political, and social disruptions and upheaval which accompany climate change. There were also no alternative solutions or suggestions offered. 

Change is often painful. The time to begin a less painful, smoother transition to clean energy was back in the 1970s. The longer we kick this can down the road, the longer we put off transitioning to clean energy, the higher the costs, and the pain, will be in dollars, disruption, and human suffering. The climate is changing … ask the folks dealing with weather extremes, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, melting glaciers and permafrost. It is too late to avert those impacts. 

There is a very small window of time where it is possible to mitigate those impacts, but we must change, not kick the can down the road. If we don’t do the changing, then Mother Nature will do it for us. We will have little control and it won’t be pretty.

Heidi Willis


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