When candidates wants to hammer home a rhetorical point, one of their favorite devices is to declare it “my top priority.” Or, weasel wordly, “a top priority.”
Either way, I’ma here to tall you not one of them has their top priority right. Whoever wins, their top priority has already been assigned.
Like it or not, the biggest single item on the next governor’s to-do list will be Lake Champlain. Thanks to our decades of consistent neglect, we are now under orders from the EPA to create an effective plan to limit nutrient flows into the lake, and take extensive action to clean up the lake.
Both will be costly. The former will impose tougher conditions for growth, tougher effluent standards for farms, developers, road contractors, and municipalities. The latter will require spending on a large scale. Which will require large-scale indebtedness, tax increases, or budget cuts elsewhere. Or all three. And it’s got to be done in a way that satisfies the EPA, no matter its effect on entrenched political interests.
Meanwhile, neither the candidates nor the media are giving this the attention it deserves. It promises to be the dominant issue of the next several years. But to hear the candidates tell it, Lake Champlain is nobody’s top priority.