Vt. Democrats ready to act on clean heat veto

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Published: May. 4, 2023 at 4:09 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Gov. Phil Scott Thursday vetoed Democrats’ signature climate bill -- the Affordable Heat Act.

The measure aims to reduce thermal emissions from homes by switching over to more eco-friendly forms of home heating and making fossil fuels more expensive.

In his veto, letter to lawmakers, the governor said while he remains concerned about the impacts of the bill on lower-income Vermonters, that is not the primary reason for the veto. He says language in the bill that he supported to “check-back” with the Legislature after the Public Utilities Commission finished setting up the program, was confusing.

“It’s important to note despite significant concerns with the policy, I would not veto a bill that directs the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to design a potential clean heat standard – provided it’s returned to the Legislature, in bill form with all the details, and debated, amended, and voted on with the transparency Vermonters deserve,” Scott said in the letter. He added that he “continues to fully support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Democratic lawmakers Thursday said they believe they have the votes to override the governor. “Vermonters can look out their windows and see climate change happening. They can see on their TVs the polar ice caps melting. The governor with this second veto has forced years between the conception of the plan and the implementation of the plan. And we don’t have time for that delay anymore,” said Senate President Phil Baruth, D-Chittenden County.

The bill clean passed narrowly through the Senate 20 to 10. Baruth adds he’s confident that lawmakers who voted for it twice already will stick together to override before the close of the session.

It’s the first of numerous vetoes Democrats are preparing for, including possibly the $8 billion state budget.

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