Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vermont Environmental & Land Use Law, September 8, 2011

Photo by jim.greenhill on flickr

Shumlin Relaxes Environmental Rules for Flood Clean-Up

Governor Peter Shumlin says his administration has relaxed environmental rules to allow work crews to quickly rebuild roads destroyed by floodwaters.

(Shumlin) "You still need to call ANR to get approval. But we have asked all levels of state government to relax regulations where necessary to get us through this crisis. And the example is: we have literally highways and roads that have washed into rivers. And it makes the most sense to extract that gravel and extract that fill and put it back into the roads."

Under normal circumstances, contractors are not allowed to dig gravel from streams. Permits under the Act 250 land use law have also imposed limits on extracting material from gravel pits.

But the state Natural Resources Board said this week that the state will not enforce minor Act 250 violations associated with emergency gravel extractions. The notice says the Agency of Natural Resources still has to approve removing gravel from streams.

Welch: Vermonters entitled to federal recovery funds, WCAX
Rep. Peter Welch says Vermonters are entitled to federal recovery funds and this is not the time for lawmakers to play partisan politics.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Welch outlined his plan for securing FEMA funds to help Vermont individuals, businesses and state government rebuild.
At least 700 Vermont homes have been destroyed or severely damaged. Across the East Coast the preliminary estimate amounts to $1.5 billion dollars, but the federal recovery fund has just $700 million-$800 million dollars left.

Welch says those looking to tie FEMA funding to the federal budget debate will only exacerbate the suffering of innocent people impacted by Hurricane Irene.
"Vermonters have always been extremely generous when it came to providing their tax dollars to fund emergency assistance in other parts of the country; New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Katrina, Joplin, Missouri, after this recent tornado. We now see fires raging in Texas and they're going to need help and Vermonters who have been generous are going to need some help for our own recovery," said Welch, D-
Vermont.

Welch has written to his Congressional colleagues asking for disaster assistance. And Thursday, he'll meet with other East Coast lawmakers, FEMA and White House officials to discuss the steps needed to provide assistance.
Vermont utility begins work on Lowell wind project, Burlington Free Press
LOWELL — Vermont electric utility Green Mountain Power says workers have begun construction on the Kingdom Community Wind project in Lowell.
The 63-megawatt, 21-turbine wind project is designed to be able to provide power for more than 24,000 homes.

GMP calls the $150 million Kingdom Community Wind project the most significant renewable generation development in Vermont. The construction of the turbines is due to be completed by the end of 2012.

A separate, but affiliated project will include upgrades to the transmission system of the Vermont Electric Cooperative between Lowell and Jay.
Vermont seeks dismissal of suit filed by nuke workers, WCAX
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) - The state of Vermont is asking a court to dismiss a lawsuit by seven employees of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant who claim the state's efforts to close the plant could cost them their jobs.

The Brattleboro Reformer reports the Vermont Attorney General's office argues the plant operators' claims have no merit.

The state is engaged in a legal battle with the plant's owner, Entergy Nuclear, to close the plant when its current license expires in March, even though it has been granted a 20-year license extension by the federal government.

The workers, who have a total of 117 years of employment at the Vernon facility, contend the state's call for the plant's closure will cause them substantial hardship and injury.
Sen. Gillibrand bill to support CSAs, WCAX
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, has introduced legislation to promote community-supported agriculture.

The bill would create a competitive grant program to support growers, improve delivery and distribution, and increase access to nutritious, locally-grown produce. Preference would be given to family farms, farms operated by or employing veterans and to farms in low-income communities without access to fresh food.

"One of the things I want to work on now is value-added products. For example, if you are an orchard we want you to be able to buy a slicer so you can slice apples for the local school district and local hospitals, or if you are a dairy we want to make sure you can produce milk, yogurt, or ice cream or cheese. We want to make sure money is available through grants. That is a priority for the farm bill," Gillibrand said.