Natural Resources

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Welch responds to attack ad

BARRE — Congressman Peter Welch responding is to a television ad attacking him for his stance on ethanol in gasoline. This weekend, local television stations in Vermont aired an ad from ethanol-advocacy group known as Fuels America, which attacks Welch for being signatory to a letter to Environmental Protection Agency questioning whether the percentage of ethanol in gasoline should be increased. The ad criticizes Welch for “circulating a plan written by oil industry lobbyists” and concludes by asking viewers to “remind Peter Welch to stand up for Vermont values, not oil companies and climate deniers.”

“I understand why they’re doing it,” Welch said of the ad. “The mandate is a moneymaker for the corn ethanol industry.”

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates an ever-increasing volume of ethanol to enter the nation’s motor vehicle fuel supply. At the time, the Energy Information Administration projected demand for gasoline would continue to rise through 2022. Continue Reading →

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Dubie emerges with wind concerns

Brian Dubie (VPR photo)

MONTPELIER — Former Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, who was a strong proponent of wind power during his government service, is now speaking out on behalf of residents who are concerned about the noise generated by turbines in Sheffield and at proposed sites in the future. Dubie, who served from 2003 to 2011 and lost a close gubernatorial election to Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2010, still supports wind power as an alternative energy source for Vermont. The commercial airline pilot said he’s not looking to re-enter Vermont’s political scene. But he is choosing to speak out now on behalf of his neighbors in Franklin County that could soon be impacted by turbine noise. Additionally, there is a proposed wind project in Swanton — just under a mile from Dubie’s home — that would generate up to 20 megawatts of power from as many as seven wind turbines that are 500 feet tall. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin administration sees more staff changes

MONTPELIER — Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears is is leaving the Shumlin administration to rejoin the faculty of Vermont Law School. Mears, who joined the administration in 2011, helped spearhead Gov. Peter Shumlin’s effort to pass clean water legislation during the last legislative session. He will return to VLS as the director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, the position he previously held at the school. Deputy Commissioner Alyssa Schuren will take over the department’s top spot on August 10. Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deborah Markowitz said Mears is leaving the state and the department “better than he found them.”

“From the Lake Champlain clean-up plan, to cleaning up polluted industrial sites so that they could again serve as community assets, David’s leadership has helped Vermont advance our shared environmental mission,” she said. Continue Reading →

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Capitol Beat 5-11-15


Barre-Montpelier Times Argus Editor Steve Pappas and Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami discuss the sexual assault case against Sen. Norm McAllister, R-Franklin, the last week of the session and Bernie Sanders. Continue Reading →

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Senate supports climate-change resolution

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. Continue Reading →

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Senator’s letter to resorts rankles ski industry, fellow lawmakers

MONTPELIER — A state senator has sent a letter to each of the seven ski resorts utilizing state land asking them to renegotiate leases, but the closing paragraph he included has some lawmakers concerned he has issued a thinly-veiled threat to raise their taxes if they do not agree. Chittenden County Sen. Tim Ashe, a Democrat and the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, sent the letters on Senate letterhead last week to Bromley, Okemo, Killington, Stowe, Smuggler’s Notch, Burke and Jay Peak. He signed each letter as chairman of Senate Finance. Ashe’s letters follow the release of a report by State Auditor Doug Hoffer last month that found the resorts’ lease payments to the state have not kept pace with the resorts’ economic growth. The long-term leases with the resorts range between 50 and 100 years. Continue Reading →

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Release: US Forest Service releases new snowmobiling rule

The U.S. Forest Service has released the final policy rule for managing snowmobile and other “over-snow” vehicle use on national forests and grasslands. As directed by court order, the policy requires that roads, trails and areas where over-snow vehicle (OSV) use can occur be specifically designated by local Forest Service managers. Previously, managers had the discretion to decide whether to designate specific areas for over-snow vehicle use on National Forest System lands. In the new rule, an over-snow vehicle is defined as “a motor vehicle that is designed for use over snow and that runs on a track and/or a ski or skis, while in use over snow”. “The Forest Service always seeks to provide a wide range of motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. Continue Reading →

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Sorrell outlines state’s GMO case for lawmakers

MONTPELIER — Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell told the Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday that he expects a judge to rule on dueling motions in the GMO labeling case within the next three months, which will help lay out a path for the rest of the case. A host of food industry groups filed suit last year against the state’s GMO labeling law, set to take effect July 1, 2016, claiming it is unconstitutional. Sorrell briefed the committee Wednesday on the status of the case. The plaintiffs have asked the judge for a summary judgment, claiming the state is restricting their free speech rights by forcing them to label products that contain GMOs. They also claim the state cannot prevent them from calling a product natural if it contains GMOs. Continue Reading →

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Vermont calls more GMO hearings, extends comment deadline

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Attorney General’s office is calling a second public hearing on the state’s rules to implement the ban on genetically modified organisms.

In addition to the second hearing scheduled for Feb. 4 at the Vermont Statehouse, the state has extended by two weeks the deadline for submitting written comments on the proposed rules. The new deadline for written comments is Feb. 12. Continue Reading →

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