On Thursday the Vermont House approved the Global Warming Solutions Act with a decisive 105-37 vote. It now moves to the Senate.
Rather than requiring specific actions now, the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) creates a framework for co-ordinated and focused effort, not just to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but to increase the resilience of our communities and our economy as we face increasing disruptions.
The Act creates a Climate Council comprised of agency secretaries and citizen experts. The Council writes a Climate Plan detailing specific action to take to reach the goals set in law (similar to the Paris Accord goals). The agencies will then write “Rules” to put these actions into law.
The Rules cannot impose taxes or spend money without legislative approval or take any action “contrary to legislative intent”.
The bill also creates a “cause of action”, the ability for people to sue the state if we do not make substantial progress toward our goals. But because people already can and do sue the state on a regular basis for almost any reason, this cause of action actually serves to narrow the options for bringing lawsuits. A judge cannot award payment, they can only order the agency to go back and do more effective rule making.
The final safety valve is that the legislature can at any time revise or repeal any portion of the bill. The full text can be found here: https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2020/WorkGroups/House%20Energy%20and%20Technology/Bills/H.688/Drafts,%20Amendments,%20and%20Summaries/H.688~Luke%20Martland~As%20Recommended%20by%20the%20House%20Committee%20on%20Energy%20and%20Technology~2-11-2020.pdf
As always, please contact me with questions or concerns.