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Governor vetoes Global Warming Solutions Act

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 6:08 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 3:53 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday vetoed the Global Warming Solutions Act, prompting lawmakers to call for the first override vote of the session.

The bill, one of Democrats top priorities for the session, would require the state meets strict rules to lower greenhouse gasses and allow Vermonters to sue the state if the goals aren’t met.

In his rejection of the bill, Governor Scott says it could lead to costly court battles. He called it poorly crafted legislation that is unconstitutional and doesn’t propose or create a sustainable framework for long-term mitigation and solutions to climate change. He laid out his main concerns in a letter to lawmakers in hopes of them making changes.

“I share the Legislature’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing the resilience of Vermont’s infrastructure and landscape in the face of a changing climate,” Scott, R-Vermont, stated in his letter. “To prioritize the emission reductions necessary to address climate change, we need to learn the lessons of building a comprehensive clean water plan. H.688, as written, will lead to inefficient spending and long, costly court battles, not the tangible investments in climate-resilient infrastructure, and affordable weatherization and clean transportation options that Vermonters need.”

Scott also took issue with the structure and responsibilities of what he called an “unelected and unaccountable” climate council.

Democratic lawmakers say they’re confident they can muster the votes to erase the governor’s veto pen. Lawmakers need a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate and they had that when they first passed the bill, with the Senate voting 22 to 6 and the House voting 102 to 45.

“We have to be thinking about how we can protect our economy and our small towns and our infrastructure from regional climate change threats,” said House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero.

Still, a veto override is more complex politically than a regular vote on a bill. For the Republicans that voted for the bill, they now have to go directly against a popular governor of their own party during an election year.

The governor’s office is trying to convince lawmakers to reverse their vote, while Democratic leadership is lobbying for swing votes to support the override.

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