Business Group Honors VT Chittenden County Legislators for Climate Action Work
Burlington, VT – Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) honored two dozen Vermont House legislators Wednesday morning as ‘Climate Champions’ for their efforts to grow the economy and create green jobs by putting a price on carbon pollution.
“Vermont spends nearly $2 billion each year on fossil fuels and most of that money leaves our local economy and goes right out of the state,” said Jane Campbell, VBSR’s executive director. “VBSR is delighted to honor these legislators for recognizing that keeping more of our energy spending here in Vermont is a major economic development opportunity.”
Award-winners from Chittenden County include Rep. Selene Colburn, Rep. Curtis McCormack, Rep. Jean O’Sullivan, Rep. Mary Sullivan, Rep. Michael Yantachka, Rep. Johanna Donovan, Rep. James McCullough, Rep. Diana Gonzalez, Rep. Martin LaLonde, Rep. Jill Krowinski, Rep. Barbara Rachelson, and Sen. Chris Pearson (Pearson was a House representative when he sponsored legislation).
“This award is really a testament to the priorities of my constituents, whose passionate advocacy for our planet has encouraged me to step up and seek climate action solutions. It’s been inspiring to see local businesses take a lead in the evolving discussion on how to price carbon equitably in Vermont. I look forward to collaborating with VBSR members in this important work.”
“We in Vermont need to stop patting ourselves on the back and start taking action. We have sprawled out our state no less than most other states havef. We happen to have no fossil fuel power plants; happen to be next door to Hydro Quebec and much of the renewable energy projects located in Vermont were a result of other state’s requirements of their utilities and those other states helping to pay for the Vermont projects. We need a carbon pollution tax: one that doesn’t subsidize long commutes, out of town living and businesses and electricity but subsidizes those of lower income.”
“I am thrilled to be receiving this award from VBSR. VBSR helps us move a progressive agenda forward. Together we’ll get a carbon pricing mechanism in the state that improves the economy, creates jobs, improves health and helps get us off of fossil fuel.”
“Climate change is the most significant global environmental threat the human race has faced in its history. It is caused by human consumption of fossil fuels, which have pumped extraordinary amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution. We have to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels for the sake of future generations. Today’s fuel prices do not reflect the inherent environmental and health costs. Pricing carbon realistically will reduce demand for fossil fuels and at the same time help us transition to cleaner, renewable energy sources and create good jobs.”
“I am committed to pushing for ways to meet Vermont’s commitment to lower our contribution to climate change. Putting a price on carbon pollution is an important part of the solution. This approach would not only lower carbon emissions. It would also spur economic activity, inspire and grow Vermont businesses, and put Vermonters on the path to affordability.”
Recognizing that market forces can be an effective tool in moving the economy to cleaner technologies, VBSR has called for pricing carbon pollution for more than two decades. VBSR business members recently collaborated with members of the social services community to draft the ESSEX Plan, which phases in a carbon price over eight years and use the proceeds to reduce the cost of electricity in Vermont.
“Vermonters know that we must act now to reduce dangerous carbon pollution or it will it lead to irreversible impacts for our economy, our health and our food and water supplies,” said Jen Kimmich, co-owner of The Alchemist in Stowe. “We have set ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but over the past five years these emissions have increased. It is time for us to take this positive action, which will increase Vermont’s prosperity as it helps us improve the environmental, business and human health of our state.”
VBSR traditionally gives a Legislator of the Year award, but this year opted to give the special Climate Champion award to Vermont legislators. VBSR Public Policy Manager Daniel Barlow said that President Trump’s decision this year to exit the Paris Climate Agreement sparked serious concerns in the business community and has spurred renewed attention to the important issue of fighting climate change.
“We can’t rely on Washington, D.C. to take action on climate change,” Barlow said. “Vermont can show the rest of the country that moving off of fossil fuels grows the economy and creates new jobs. We thought it was important to recognize these forward-looking Vermont legislators who support putting a price on carbon pollution.”
VBSR presented the awards December 6 at the organization’s annual Legislative Breakfast in Burlington. The business group also unveiled it’s 2018 legislative agenda, which includes putting a price on carbon pollution, reforming the state’s broken health care system, and changing the state’s independent contractor regulations.
The group also honored Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce with a ‘Public Servant of the Year’ award for her work in creating a public retirement system, clean up Vermont’s lakes and rivers, and address climate change through state investments.
VBSR is a statewide, non-profit business association with a mission to advance a business ethic that values people and planet as much as profit. Through economic development, education, public influence, and networking, VBSR strives to help 700+ members set a high standard for protecting the natural, human, and economic environments of the state’s residents, while remaining profitable. Learn more or join the cause at www.vbsr.org.