2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Act 250, Vermont’s signature land use and development law. It was passed at a time when Vermont was undergoing significant development pressure. Two new interstate highways, I-89 and 91, had recently opened, increasing development pressure. But in the late 1960s, Vermont had no environmental regulations or land use controls. So Gov. Deane Davis appointed a commission to explore how to deal with these new challenges. The result was Act 250, which the Vermont legislature passed in 1970. The law provides a public, quasi-judicial process for reviewing and managing the environmental, social and fiscal consequences of major subdivisions and developments in Vermont.
Fast forward a half century. In January 2020, the Scott administration and the Vermont Natural Resources Council, which are often adversaries on environmental issues, proposed a package of Act 250 reforms. This reform plan has generated controversy among environmentalists and legislators. Last week, the legislature stripped out a key reform proposal to professionalize the development review process. What is the future of Act 250 and reform efforts? What has Act 250 contributed during its half-century? (February 26, 2020 broadcast)
Peter Walke, commissioner, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Brian Shupe, executive director, Vermont Natural Resources Council
A long awaited report on carbon pricing from the Vermont Legislature’s nonpartisan Joint Fiscal Office Leg’s was released this week. It’s key conclusion is that carbon pricing could enable Vermont to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without adversely impacting low-income residents or the state’s overall economy. The report was followed by a press conference of 25 organizations representing youth, low-income, business, public health, environment presenting a Climate Action Plan for Vermont legislators to advance. We discuss the new impetus for carbon pricing and other climate change strategies in the Vermont legislature. (January 23, 2019 broadcast)