H.688 – AN ACT RELATING TO ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE
in the State House of Representatives
on February 26, 2020, by a vote of
Purpose: The Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) mandates that Vermont meet strict carbon emission reduction targets to 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Analysis: The GWSA would create a Climate Council made up of 22 state government officials and citizen experts to adopt a “Vermont Climate Action Plan” by Dec. 1, 2021. This plan would offer guidance to the Agency of Natural Resources, which would be empowered to create and implement new rules for achieving the emission targets.
If any citizen (or special interest group) believes the Agency is not adopting rules quickly enough to meet the mandates, they may take the state to court. The court can warn the state that it is not meeting its obligations and award attorney’s fees to the winners of any suit brought.
Those voting YES believe Vermont has a moral obligation to accelerate the state’s reduction of carbon emissions, and that the normal democratic process has proven inadequate to the task. They hope the specter of judicial review and the liability of paying attorney’s fees will keep the pressure on the Council, Agency and Legislature into adopting sweeping regulations.
Those voting NO did so for several reasons. First, they believe it is irresponsible to legally bind the state to meet these emissions goals, placing the taxpayers in legal jeopardy, without any idea of how much such a program would cost or what rules would be necessary to impose on the citizenry to achieve the result. They believe the Legislature should retain its democratic obligation to pass laws, not delegate that authority to an unelected board and a bureaucratic agency of the executive branch. They note that Vermont already has the lowest emissions in the country, both as a whole and per capita, and Vermont’s emissions are expected to continue declining even without this legislation.
As Recorded in the House Journal, Thursday, February 20, 2020: “Thereupon, the Clerk proceeded to call the roll and the question, Shall the bill be amended as recommended by the committee on Energy and Technology, as amended? was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 105. Nays, 37“…(Read the Journal p. 317 – p. 338)
Related: Roll Call! House Rejects Amendment to Global Warming Solutions Act, (44-99), 2020
GWSA Resources (Global Warming Solutions Act)