Scott to veto clean heat bill

Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 12:12 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced Friday he is vetoing the Affordable Heat Act, the centerpiece of Democratic lawmakers’ efforts this session to fight climate change, and the first of several expected policy showdowns with the Republican governor.

Years of work on climate policy came to a head last week as House lawmakers passed the Affordable Heat Act. The bill creates a clean heat standard -- a marketplace for clean heat credits -- with the aim of weaning Vermont off of fossil fuels by making them more expensive and opening more ways to switch to cleaner forms of energy.

But the governor has objected to what he says will be an economic burden on those least able to afford it, as well as punting many of the key policy details to the Public Utility Commission, an unelected regulatory body.

“From the start of this conversation, I have clearly, and repeatedly, said I agree we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, including in the thermal sector. However, I strongly believe the right approach is to help people make the transition, not financially punish those who cannot afford to do so,” Scott said in a statement Friday. He says Democrats’ efforts to create a “check back” provision for lawmakers after the PUC also fall short. “Contrary to the claims of some of the bill’s proponents, components of this program will begin implementation as early as this July – long before the legislative check back in 2025. Over, and over again, I have said if the Legislature truly intended for this policy to be transparently debated in a future legislative session, it would be crystal clear, in plain language, and there wouldn’t be this much confusion and contradiction.”

It’s the governor’s first of what are expected to be several vetoes, including the state budget passed by the Senate this week.

Lawmakers have already scheduled a veto session for the third week in June in an attempt to override the governor.

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