President Trump’s call to abandon the Paris Climate Agreement, slash federal funding for clean air and water, and reduce protections for threatened and endangered species have made national headlines and created grim reading for those who care about protecting the health of our people and our environment.
But, as is often the case, we are charting a different course in the Green Mountain State. Instead of political gamesmanship, Vermonters of different parties and across branches of government are expanding our commitment to clean water.
In his inaugural budget address, Governor Phil Scott proposed investing $23 million in clean water in the coming year, for a total investment of $55 million in Fiscal Year 2018 — an increase of nearly 70 percent over FY17 levels. The Legislature joined the conversation, passing a budget that came close to the governor’s proposal, for a total of $54 million in clean water funding.
Committing to this investment during a very challenging year for our state budget was not easy. It is essential, however, because this money will be used to:
Build better local roads, which will both produce less pollution and have a stronger resiliency in a changing climate;
Help farmers produce both clean water and healthy local food for Vermonters from their land;
Assist towns, business people and property owners in putting new and innovative technology to work so that the rain which lands on their roofs and parking lots either stays on-site or leaves as clean as it arrived.
This is the start of a long effort, not the end. Over the coming months I will be working with Vermonters — both those who make environmental policies and those affected by them — to develop a plan for funding needed investments in clean water over the next two decades.
I am encouraged by the resolve and the energy I see in our brave little state. The actions taken by the Governor, and by lawmakers, tell me that even if our federal government pulls back or falters in its commitments to protect and restore the nation’s environmental assets, Vermont is prepared to make necessary investments in continued stewardship in our land, air and water.
Julie Moore, Middlesex
Moore is the secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and a registered professional engineer.