House Fails to Override Governor's Veto of Clean Heat Measure | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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House Fails to Override Governor's Veto of Clean Heat Measure


Published May 10, 2022 at 3:27 p.m.
Updated July 26, 2022 at 9:57 p.m.

  • Anne Wallace Allen ©️ Seven Days
  • Vermont Statehouse
An effort to override Gov. Phil Scott's veto of the "clean heat standard" failed by a single vote on Tuesday.

The clean heat measure, H.715, was designed to reduce fossil fuel heating emissions. Supporters said the bill, a priority for Democratic leadership, would have helped the state meet the requirements set out in Vermont’s 2020 Global Warming Solutions Act, which includes aggressive reduction targets for fossil fuel emissions.

But the governor vetoed it last Friday, saying the bill places too much of the responsibility for the standard in the hands of the Public Utility Commission without proper oversight from the General Assembly.
The override effort needed a two-thirds majority in the House, or 100 of 150 votes, to succeed. It was one short on Tuesday, with 99 yes votes and 51 nays.

After the override failed, Rep. Tim Briglin (D-Thetford), who is chair of the House Committee on Energy and Technology, said that he expects lawmakers to try again on Wednesday.

"Some members might not have been entirely clear about the contents of the bill," Briglin said.
Before the veto override vote on Tuesday, Briglin warned his colleagues on the House floor that if lawmakers didn't craft emissions control policy, that job would go into the hands of unelected state officials.

"It is possible that the governor, or the Climate Council, or someone in this legislature has been sitting on a secret plan to reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions on the scale contemplated by the clean heat standard," Briglin said. "If that secret plan is out there, I'm not in on the secret."

The clean heat standard would require fuel dealers to decrease the amount of fossil fuel they sell over time. Alternatively, they could offset that by selling more biofuels, installing electric heat pumps and weatherizing homes to cut down on fossil-fuel consumption.

The Global Warming Solutions Act includes aggressive reduction targets for fossil fuel emissions and enables members of the public to sue the state if it fails to take sufficient steps toward cutting emissions by 15 percent by 2025, 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

 The measure passed the Vermont Senate 23-7 on April 28, and the House 88-37 on May 3.

"This was the most significant greenhouse gas reduction bill considered by the Legislature this year," Brian Shupe, executive director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, said in a statement. "We're extremely disappointed."