Vermont Gov. Phil Scott vetoes clean heat standard bill

The VT bill encouraged residents to stop using fossil fuels to heat their homes

  • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed a bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging residents to shift away from using fossil fuels to heat their homes.
  • Scott said the clean heat measure could end up punishing Vermonters least able to afford the switch to cleaner energy.
  • Democratic lawmakers in Vermont’s General Assembly have veto-proof majority, but it remains unclear whether all would vote to override his veto on the clean heat standard bill.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Thursday vetoed a bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging Vermonters to move away from using fossil fuels to heat their homes.

Scott vowed last week that he would veto the Affordable Heat Act, saying that while he shares the bill's goal, he believes the legislation would give too much authority to the unelected Public Utilities Commission and could end up punishing Vermonters who are least able to afford to switch.

"Here’s the bottom line: The risk to Vermonters and our economy throughout the state is too great; the confusion around the language and the unknowns are too numerous; and we are making real and measurable progress reducing emissions with a more thoughtful, strategic approach that is already in motion," Scott wrote in his veto letter to lawmakers.


VT Gov. Phil Scott

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott delivers an address on Jan. 5, 2022, in Montpelier. Scott has vetoed a clean heat bill that aimed to stop residents from using fossil fuels to heat their homes. (Glenn Russell/VTDigger via AP, Pool, File)

He vetoed a similar bill last year, and an override failed by one vote in the House. Democratic lawmakers have a veto-proof majority in the House and Senate, but it’s unclear if all would vote to override this veto.

"The Affordable Heat Act is an essential step forward to plan for and fully understand what it will take, what it will cost and how Vermonters can benefit from more local, cleaner, and more affordable heat," said Sen. Rebecca White, a Democrat, in a statement. "It is the Climate Solutions Caucus leadership’s hope and expectation – as the two recent and decisive House and Senate votes have demonstrated – that the majority of policy makers will continue to support taking the next hard, important step forward toward a more equitable, affordable, cleaner heat future."

The Affordable Heat Act grew out of legislation passed in 2020 that requires Vermont to reduce greenhouse gas pollution to 26% below 2005 levels by 2025. Emissions would need to be 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below by 2050.

House Speaker Jill Krowinski has said Scott and others were spreading misinformation about the legislation, particularly that Vermonters would be unable to afford to heat their homes.

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