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Gov. Scott vetoes major land and water conservation bill

A ridgeline covered in trees lies in the background, under clouds and a blue sky. In the forefront is waving green grass.
Courtesy New England Forestry Foundation
Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a bill Thursday that would have set a goal to conserve 30% of Vermont's landscape by 2030, then go further by 2050.

Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed a climate resiliency bill approved by the Legislature last month.

Middlebury Rep. Amy Sheldon says the legislation would have required the state to conserve 50% of all land and water bodies in the state by 2050.

Sheldon says there were several goals behind the bill.

“Flood resiliency and carbon sequestration and general climate mitigation as well as providing habitat for all the other critters we share the earth with," she said.

Scott said in his veto message that the bill would have required the permanent protection of some natural areas, which he says runs contrary to the state’s conservation goals.

Sheldon says she plans to take up the bill again at the beginning of the next legislative session.

The bill went above and beyond President Joe Biden's 30x30 executive order, which sets a goal to conserve 30% of all land and waters nationwide by 2030.

Zack Porter with the environmental group Standing Trees says Vermonters supported the bill.

"H.606 called on the state to take a reasonable and scientifically sound step forward, and we've chosen not to do that," he said.

In the months ahead, Porter says Standing Trees will look at other ways to push for stronger protections for Vermont's forests. That includes continued efforts to push state government to stay on track with its climate commitments.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Abagael Giles@AbagaelGiles.

Abagael is Vermont Public's climate and environment reporter, focusing on the energy transition and how the climate crisis is impacting Vermonters — and Vermont’s landscape.

Abagael joined Vermont Public in 2020. Previously, she was the assistant editor at Vermont Sports and Vermont Ski + Ride magazines. She covered dairy and agriculture for The Addison Independent and got her start covering land use, water and the Los Angeles Aqueduct for The Sheet: News, Views & Culture of the Eastern Sierra in Mammoth Lakes, Ca.
The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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