MONTPELIER — Senate lawmakers have given preliminary approval to a resolution that acknowledges both climate change and impact caused by fossil fuel use.
By a vote of 23 to 5, Senate lawmakers Tuesday approved a resolution that “recognizes that climate change is a real and present danger to health and well-being of all Vermonters,” and “that human activities make a substantive contribution to climate change.”
The resolution was introduced by Sen. Brian Campion, D-Bennington, who serves on the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. The Committee approved the resolution by a vote of 4-0-1.
“It recognizes that the warming in the climate system is unequivocal and the human influence on the climate system is clear and substantive,” Campion said. “It acknowledges the state of Vermont recognizes climate change is a real and present danger to the health and well-being of all Vermonters.”
Vermont has a goal of reducing its carbon foot print by 50 percent — compared with 1990 levels — by the year 2028, and reduce carbon output by 75 percent by 2050. The state has already blown one deadline, by not reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent by the year 2012.
Pointing to the founding fathers of the United States as men who valued the importance of science, Campion argued that lawmakers should take science into account when crafting legislation that could impact the environment.
Sen. Anthony Pollina, P/D-Washington, spoke in support of the resolution, while noting the state’s financial goals and environmental goals might be at odds.
“I support it, in part, because in the resolution, we take responsibility for our actions.” Pollina noted “It’s somewhat ironic that while we as a state are concerned about climate change and want to do what we can to fight it, that we continue to invest in hope to profit from fossil fuel companies that cause climate change.”
Senators who voted against the resolution included Sens. Peg Flory, R-Rutland; Brian Collamore, R-Rutland; and Norm McAllister, R-Franklin.
The lone Democrat to vote against the resolution — Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans — was also the only member of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee to not vote in favor of it in the first place.
An opponent of large-scale wind projects, Rodgers said the resolution could result in the state approving more such projects without local input.
“I do believe that our climate is changing. I do believe that we are contributing to that change,” Rodgers said. “Absent a serious change in the way the Public Service Board sites renewable energy, I’m not willing to give them another reason — which I believe this is — to rubber-stamp bad renewable energy projects along with the good.”
Sen. Minority Leader Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, explained why he also voted against the resolution.
“I do believe the climate is changing and I do believe that humans have exacerbated that situation,” Benning said. “But, I do not believe this body should grandstand with meaningless resolutions, which ultimately only serve as fodder for political and advocacy organizations to extract dollars from their followers. By forcing us into categories, these proclamation resolutions position us into making decisions based on passion and emotion, rather than careful and deliberative thought.”