A Vermont House committee heard testimony Tuesday on legislation that would effectively ban construction of oil or gas pipelines in Vermont.
The three bills discussed in the House Committee on Energy and Technology have drawn criticism from the natural gas industry over concerns that they will impact jobs and increase fuel costs.
Barre resident Edward Gilbert Jr., who testified against the bill, echoled those concerns.
“I just feel that banning an infrastructure and costing jobs that Vermont can’t lose at this present time off of a future projection of a possibility would be a big mistake,” he said.
Climate activists, including members of 350Vermont, said the legislation would have a measurable impact on climate change.
“We need to start taking on bills that are commensurate with the scale of the climate crisis,” Julie Macuga, an energy field organizer with the organization. “We’re seeing a lot of things like carbon taxes and plastic bag bans, which are still important, but nothing short of stopping our consumption of fossil fuels is really going to get us out of this crisis that we’re already in.”
J.T. Dodge of Newbury, who founded No Carbon TAX Vermont, said lawmakers backing the legislation are operating with a false sense of urgency.
“This false urgency can be increased by simply ramping up the climate catastrophe rhetoric,” Dodge said. “Meanwhile, the middle and lower classes will pay more and more for transportation to drive to work and heating fuel, which are costs they already struggle to control.”
Climate activists outnumbered the legislation’s critics at Tuesday’s hearing. But one woman who sympathized with critics suggested the local industry will have to find ways to change.
“I don’t think it’s the legislature’s job to save industries from having to adapt to changing markets,” said Sophie Ehrhardt. “We have greenhouse has reduction targets in statute, they require action. These bills are part of that action.”
Earlier this month, nearly 300 climate activists rallied in Montpelier in support of the legislation to cap off a five day walk to demand climate justice.