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Final climate report released; Calls for energy efficiency, renewables and teamwork

The commission charged with finding how the state should reduce its contribution to global climate change - and profit from concerns worldwide about the issue - released its final report Friday calling for more energy efficiency, renewable energy development and the creation of an alliance between the state, nonprofit groups and Vermont's colleges and universities. ...Crombie said all recommendations and possibilities will be considered. But that does not necessarily mean Douglas will change his mind about large wind turbines on the state's ridgelines or bend to the Legislature's proposal of last year. "The governor's position is that we have to be careful about how we approach wind," Crombie said, adding that such wind projects may have other effects on the state - including impacts on the economy and recreation. "We may find that in Vermont we are using a lot of renewable energy already," Crombie said. "Already Vermont is one of the greenest economies in the United States."

MONTPELIER - The commission charged with finding how the state should reduce its contribution to global climate change - and profit from concerns worldwide about the issue - released its final report Friday calling for more energy efficiency, renewable energy development and the creation of an alliance between the state, nonprofit groups and Vermont's colleges and universities.

But the report also concluded that only by implementing all of the dozens of ideas conceived by the commission and an associated group could Vermont reach the goals established by Gov. James Douglas and the Legislature.

Some of the ideas that have the greatest potential for reducing the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollution thought most responsible for climate change - for instance expanding the state's electrical and natural gas efficiency programs to other fuels - have gotten a less than warm welcome from Douglas.

When he established the commission two years ago Douglas set as a goal the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2012 and by 50 percent by 2028. The Legislature recommended similar standards.

In order to do that the state... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

MONTPELIER - The commission charged with finding how the state should reduce its contribution to global climate change - and profit from concerns worldwide about the issue - released its final report Friday calling for more energy efficiency, renewable energy development and the creation of an alliance between the state, nonprofit groups and Vermont's colleges and universities.

But the report also concluded that only by implementing all of the dozens of ideas conceived by the commission and an associated group could Vermont reach the goals established by Gov. James Douglas and the Legislature.

Some of the ideas that have the greatest potential for reducing the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollution thought most responsible for climate change - for instance expanding the state's electrical and natural gas efficiency programs to other fuels - have gotten a less than warm welcome from Douglas.

When he established the commission two years ago Douglas set as a goal the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2012 and by 50 percent by 2028. The Legislature recommended similar standards.

In order to do that the state would have to continue and expand its "demand side management" or efficiency programs, continue the California automobile emission standards Douglas implemented and move forward on virtually all of the recommendations of the climate change commission's large advisory or "plenary" group.

"In order to meet the goals we have to implement everything," said Elizabeth Courtney, executive director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council and a member of the commission. "It is all hands on deck with every means we can imagine and we need to start now."

George Crombie, Douglas' secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, said the most significant piece of the commission's report was the recommended establishment of a formal relationship between universities and colleges - especially the University of Vermont - and the state with the assistance of businesses and advocates. That will be designed to move technologies and ideas forward - and make economic hay for the state of the increasing worldwide concern about climate change.

"It is evident to me that there are a lot of good things being done in Vermont by a lot of good people," said Crombie, who was not a member of the commission but will likely be very involved in implementing its recommendations. "The thing that is really missing is a coherent delivery system."

Ernest Pomerleau, head of the commission, agreed.

"If Vermont is going to be successful in creating a new green economy, developing a sustainable partnership and delivery system is essential," he said in a statement.

The commission also made a series of other recommendations, including preserving farm and forest land, dealing with the prevalence of single-occupant cars in the state and the long distances Vermonters drive and educating Vermonters about changing their habits.

"Whether people believe in global warming or not we should be living a sustainable lifestyle," Crombie said.

The commission also called in its report for the expansion of the efficiency efforts begun by the state's electrical efficiency program to other fuels. That is not a brand new idea, in fact the Legislature passed a similar measure last year in a bill later vetoed by Douglas over how it was funded. The commission did not include a funding recommendation.

The commission's report also called for more renewable energy to be developed in the state.

That means commercial scale wind power, the cheapest way to develop such projects within Vermont's borders, said James Moore of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.

"You have got to have wind in Vermont as part of our electricity future," said Moore, who added that the report "comes on the same day as oil prices hit a new record high and Vermonters are turning on their furnaces for the winter."

Crombie said all recommendations and possibilities will be considered. But that does not necessarily mean Douglas will change his mind about large wind turbines on the state's ridgelines or bend to the Legislature's proposal of last year.

"The governor's position is that we have to be careful about how we approach wind," Crombie said, adding that such wind projects may have other effects on the state - including impacts on the economy and recreation.

"We may find that in Vermont we are using a lot of renewable energy already," Crombie said. "Already Vermont is one of the greenest economies in the United States."

In one sentence in its report the commission acknowledged that all strategies would have to be employed to meet Douglas' goals and that more work lies ahead.

"While attainment of the state's ambitious goals requires the implementation of all of the 38 Plenary Group options, the Commission recognizes that several of them need more analysis, assessment and refinement by state agencies and other appropriate entities before implementation can occur," the six-member panel wrote.

The commission members struggled to reach agreement over some parts of the report, while consensus on other aspects was easier, those involved and watching the process said.

"It is never easy for a group of six very different individuals to agree 100 percent on a document that has this much gravity. I think we did a pretty good job," Courtney said.

Both Courtney and Crombie said the idea of keeping farm and forest land in its current uses is important. For one thing the trees and plants on those areas can act as a large carbon bank keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. For another thing, those areas can provide sources of renewable energy like wood, methane and biofuels made from sources like vegetable oils.

And, Courtney said, by making sure that Vermonters develop new buildings in downtowns and villages rather than in the countryside they can reduce the number of vehicle miles they drive annually, the single largest source of greenhouse gases produced in Vermont.

"We get a double benefit by not developing in the forests and by developing downtowns," she said.

Contact Louis Porter at louis.porter@rutlandherald.com.

 


Source: http://www.rutlandherald.co...

OCT 27 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/11637-final-climate-report-released-calls-for-energy-efficiency-renewables-and-teamwork
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