The Vermont League of Conservation Voters, on which I am proud to serve as a board member, annually joins other Vermont environmental organizations in releasing a Common Agenda that reflects their shared priorities for the legislative session.
The principle of a “common agenda” recognizes the fact that each group will have its own distinctive priorities beyond the common goals, but all have agreed on the priority of certain key issues and encourage legislators to craft legislation to address those issues and the associated goals.
Joining VCV in this statement of priorities are the Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club, Conservation Law Foundation, Toxics Action Center, Lake Champlain Committee, and Preservation Trust of Vermont.
“This agenda highlights the most pressing environmental legislative priorities for 2015 – priorities shared by leading environmental organizations in Vermont,” said Lauren Hierl, political director of Vermont Conservation Voters. Hierl noted that the groups consulted in assembling the Common Agenda are advocates for Vermont’s natural resources, healthy citizens, and vibrant communities.
The goals of this years Common Agenda reflect ongoing concerns that should be shared by all Vermonters:
* A clean energy future, specifically enactment of:
o an innovative renewable energy standard; and
o a carbon pollution tax.
* Healthy state waters, specifically enactment of:
o stronger regulations and better enforcement mechanisms to address major pollution sources including farms, roads, and commercial developments;
o creation of a Clean Water Fund with better accountability for how funds are spent; and
o increased funding for clean water initiatives, including new fees on polluters.
The Agenda doesn’t end there, but offers details of how these goals might be reached through legislation, and it goes on to raise a number of other focal points:
additional legislative priorities: strengthen the vitality of downtowns, invest in working lands, maintain the integrity of the state’s environmental permitting system, promote dam safety, and ban plastic microbeads from personal care products.
The Common Agenda is one of the tools that Vermont’s environmental community uses to more affectively carry out its role in ensuring that the state remains a premier name in forward-looking environmental policy.