[Update: Good! After it became evident there would be some nudging in the Vermont Legislature by State Sen. Chris Pearson (P/D-Chittenden) Governor Scott has agreed to join a group formed by New York, California and Washington, calling itself the U.S. Climate Alliance. This effort is meant to achieve the Paris agreement’s goals of reducing carbon emissions despite of President Trump’s exit from the international accord.]
Now that President Trump has decided the U.S.A. should join Syria and Nicaragua as the only other countries not supporting the Paris agreement setting goals to slow climate change, a significantly heavier burden now falls on state governments to address climate change. Believe it or not at Trump’s festive Rose Garden announcement “ceremony” a jazz band played ‘Summertime.’
Should we worry here in Vermont? Well, less than year ago Governor Scott’s beliefs on climate change were vague enough that they reportedly might still be “evolving,” and his resistance to wind power is well known.
However, nice man that he is, he makes an occasional symbolic gesture in support of addressing climate change. This May, in response to fears that Trump might exit the Paris agreement, Scott and Massachusetts fellow Republican Governor Charlie Baker sent a letter to Trump’s Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry. Their letter made no specific demands and only called for the federal government to “continue national leadership” in its efforts to address climate change by meeting goals in reducing greenhouse gases. No doubt the former governor from the oil state of Texas was deeply impressed by the effort, and — if he remembered — might have even passed it along to the President.
In practical terms Governor Scott announced yesterday that Attorney Anthony Roisman was his pick for leading the Public Service Board. The PSB sets public utility rates, oversees service quality, and decides on siting Vermont’s energy infrastructure — including wind and solar power. Roisman shares Scott’s aversion to wind power. Seven Days reports he represented plaintiffs opposed to wind power here in Vermont. He has also litigated against nuclear power plant operators, and in the 1980’s he represented a group of families harmed by toxic industrial waste. Most recently he was instrumental in killing a proposed 60-megawatt solar array power project in Maryland.
Yesterday, after Trump’s announcement, Scientific American reported some reaction at the state level in the wake of Trump’s decision. Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington reiterated his support of a carbon tax in his state. And Gov. Jerry Brown (D) of California is headed to China next week to take part in high level meetings on climate change and clean energy. The California legislature recently voted to receive all its energy from renewable and zero-carbon sources by 2045.
Republicans, Scientific American notes, “were far more muted in their barbs.” Scott’s Massachusetts letter-writing partner Gov. Baker said Trump’s action was “disappointing and counterproductive.” And what do we hear from the Green Mountain State? A spokeswoman for Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R), who recently penned a letter with Baker calling on Trump to stay in the Paris accord, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Now, that’s about as “muted barb” as you can find.
To say the least, it seems “moderate” GOP governors like Baker and Scott are unlikely to join the likes of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) or Gov. Jerry Brown (D) of California. But, hey, they write letters to Rick Perry.