Tag Archives: House Natural Resources and Energy Committee

Siting bill: a good deal that nobody will like

It was a heck of a last act by Tony Klein, retiring chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. This week, he shepherded an energy siting bill through the House and on to a conference committee. His reward: the bill’s drawing fire from both sides. It even sparked astoundingly different takes from VTDigger (emphasizing the dissatisfaction of opponents) and Seven Days (reporting a “surprising change in direction” by the House).

The key provision in the bill would give “substantial deference” in siting decisions to local governments — if they have adopted a state-approved energy plan. It’s not enough for supporters of local control.

“You get substantial deference … if you do what they want you to do,” said Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington. “That’s not substantial deference in my definition of the word. It doesn’t seem like substantial deference or any greater decision-making power for localities to me.”

On the other hand, some renewable-energy proponents worry that the bill would make it harder for Vermont to reach its energy goals. Anthony Iarrapino, a lawyer who represents renewable developers, told Seven Days “We’re not going to get to the targets with solar in parking lots and a single wind turbine in backyards.”

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Last one out of House leadership, turn out the lights

Welp. Earlier this week, House Democratic caucus stalwart Tim Jerman announced he wouldn’t run for re-election. Today, Tony Klein, longtime chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, did the same. And since he’s actually my State Rep and I made some comments about Jerman, I’d better do the same for Klein.

Clearly, the Dr. Evil Lookalike Contest will be a wide-open affair in next year’s caucus. Otherwise, the House is losing a staunch advocate for renewable energy. Which, in some people’s eyes, really does make him Dr. Evil. For me, he’s a champion who has worked hard, and mostly quietly, to keep Vermont progressing toward a renewable future.

He told Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck that he actually made the decision early this year, but waited until the session was further along before going public. The timing will allow potential candidates to make plans before the late-May filing deadline.

He will have one more Sisyphean task to complete: trying to clean up the hash of an energy siting bill passed by the Senate last week. I bet he’s looking forward to a close examination of that turd. (On that note, he told VTDigger that he hopes to “remain involved in the energy field and the solid waste field.” Yeah, he’s been shoveling the manure for quite a few years now.)

But he’s used to it, and he faces legislative challenges with a smile and the occasional sarcastic remark.

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