A Petition Demanding No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure In Vermont

To The Vermont Legislature's Joint Climate Solutions Caucus

Vt-gas-sign

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach its goals for limiting climate change, Vermont must begin to transition away from fossil fuels and toward truly clean and sustainable energy sources as quickly as possible. Construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure that will operate for 30, 40 or more years severely limits our ability to accomplish this. Prohibiting all new fossil fuel infrastructure is the strongest, most efficient first step Vermont can take toward accomplishing the State’s energy and climate goals. This past spring, 35 Vermont towns voted to call on the state legislature to ban all new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Now it's time for all of us to urge the Vermont legislature's Joint Climate Solutions Caucus to sponsor legislation to prohibit all new fossil fuel infrastructure by signing this petition.

Petition by
Upper Valley  Affinity Group
Bradford Town of, Vermont

To: To The Vermont Legislature's Joint Climate Solutions Caucus
From: [Your Name]

A Petition to Prohibit All New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Development in Vermont

Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge confronting us today. We all know that disruption of our climate is being caused primarily by how we continue to produce and use energy.

There is no evidence that Vermont has made significant progress toward the goals it has set for meeting this climate challenge. To reach these goals in little more than the next 30 years, as we must in order to avoid climate disaster, requires a thorough-going change in how we use and generate energy. And yet there is no single agency or complex of agencies within Vermont government specifically charged with developing the energy transition we need to accomplish.

Instead, Vermont’s 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan “Encourages expansion of pipeline gas infrastructure to enhance system reliability, reduce costs, and increase fuel choice for Vermonters…” even though a growing body of evidence shows that methane leaks, which occur during the fracking, transport, storage and use of so-called “natural” gas, are worse for overall GHG emissions than oil or any other fuel that might replace it in Vermont. We now know that during the 10-20 year period methane persists in the atmosphere it is 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Fracked gas is not and cannot become “a bridge fuel.”

The Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS) and the Vermont Public Utilities Commission (PUC) have consistently supported and permitted the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure –specifically the Vermont Gas Systems (VGS) pipeline, which carries gas fracked in Canada down through Chittenden and Addison counties to Middlebury. Despite ballooning costs, endless public hearings, Supreme Court cases, threats of eminent domain takings of people’s homes, dozens of arrests of pipeline opponents and overwhelming economic, environmental, and public health and safety evidence to the contrary, the PUC continues to certify that this pipeline is “a public good.” Ever fewer Vermonters accept this conclusion. And now, more than a year after the pipeline was first gassed up, the PUC has undertaken a thorough, full-scale investigation of VGS’ haphazard, frantic and corner-cutting construction practices in violation of its permits and leading to real and present dangers to public health and safety.

If prohibition of all new fossil fuel infrastructure had been in place over the past five years, all this pain, expense, danger and lost time would have been avoided completely. Instead we would be five years further along in our transition away from our fossil fuel economy and energy system and toward a fossil fuel free Vermont.
Early this year, Chittenden County Representative Mary Sullivan introduced House Bill 746, a bill to permanently prohibit all new fossil fuel infrastructure in Vermont. The bill did not make it to the floor for a vote. But Representative Sullivan will reintroduce the bill next session, and a similar Senate bill will also come forward. Last March, 35 Vermont towns passed Town Meeting resolutions urging the legislature to enact exactly what H.746 is designed to do. Legislation of this kind is the most powerful and efficient first step Vermont can take to begin the transition to the State’s energy, climate and economic stability goals.

A law of this kind will immediately and permanently prohibit infrastructure projects like the following three, all proposed recently but all now on temporary hold: 1) any further extension of the Vermont Gas Systems pipeline; 2) construction of any fossil fuel-fired electric station like the one suggested last year for Vernon, VT but abandoned when Kinder Morgan withdrew its application for a huge gas pipeline running from upstate New York and across northern Massachusetts; 3) flow reversal of the 76-year-old Portland to Montreal pipeline to allow corrosive Canadian tarsands dilbit to be carried down through the Northeast Kingdom from Newport to Guildhall and then on to Portland, Maine for export abroad.

Therefore, we the undersigned citizens of Vermont call on the members of the Vermont State Legislature’s Joint Climate Solutions Caucus to support and sponsor, during the 2019 legislative session, a bill to permanently prohibit all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects in the State of Vermont.