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Voices / Viewpoint

Sending a message for an energy-independent future for Brattleboro

‘By voting for this resolution we can have a town-wide conversation about our town’s energy future’

Daniel Quipp, Abby Mnookin, and John Dunham serve as members of the leadership team of 350 Brattleboro.


On Tuesday, March 6, Brattleboro’s voters (along with nearly 40 towns throughout the state) will get to vote on a climate-action resolution brought forward by 350 Brattleboro, a local group of 350 Vermont, a climate justice organization.

Local volunteers spent much of December and January having conversations with people in the town to gather the 450 petition signatures required to get the article on the ballot.

The advisory resolution aims to do two things: tell our state legislators to make good on their commitment to reducing greenhouse gases, and show our local leaders that we want meaningful action in Brattleboro now.

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Firstly, the resolution points out that Vermont is making insufficient progress toward its renewable-energy goal of 90 percent by 2050 as set out in the 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan.

By voting for this resolution, you will be sending a message to our governor and legislators that the town of Brattleboro wants the state to take meaningful action to meet its goals. The results of this vote will be sent to Montpelier and will provide a reminder that climate action is an important issue for most Vermont voters.

Secondly, the resolution aims to show our municipal leaders the many steps we can take to reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions.

These steps make sense environmentally and economically, and they are also socially responsible. We can:

—protect town lands from future fossil-fuel infrastructure such as oil and gas pipelines;

—weatherize our town buildings and schools to make them as energy efficient as possible;

—install solar power on town property;

—make a plan to phase out the use of oil and propane to heat town buildings;

—build infrastructure such as protected bike lanes to promote biking;

—continue to support a walkable town by making it a safe and welcoming place for pedestrians;

—support electric vehicles by making more charging stations available;

—commit to using 100-percent renewable energy in any new and renovated town buildings;

—commit to phasing out fossil-fuel-powered town vehicles and replacing them with renewable-energy powered vehicles when they become available and affordable.

You likely have other ideas about the things we can do too. By voting for this resolution we can have a town-wide conversation about our town’s energy future.

Do we want to remain tied to imported fossil fuels? Or do we want to embrace an energy future that offers energy independence, creates good local jobs, fosters community resilience, and maps a path toward the kind of future we want for our children?

Often, the renewable solutions are cheaper for taxpayers, but people assume otherwise by default, so without our voices insisting on it, we aren’t having the conversation.

* * *

Brattleboro has taken steps toward some of these projects already. It has undertaken a few of the suggested measures from 2016’s municipal energy audits and has bought into a solar array that will be built on the landfill at Old Ferry Road.

However, the town has also taken some steps backwards. The new police and fire buildings were opportunities to get off fossil-fuel heat, yet the town chose to go with propane.

The town is expected to partner with the state in the Municipal Center and undertake renovations. Will these renovations point us toward a cleaner, energy-independent future or will we continue to pollute our atmosphere, send our tax dollars out of the state and country, and remain vulnerable to the fluctuations of the fossil fuel market?

Voting yes for article 2 will let our state and town know that Vermonters support a clean-energy future. That these concerns are shared by the many, rather than the few. That we can work together to create communities that are just, resilient, and energy independent.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #448 (Wednesday, February 28, 2018). This story appeared on page D2.

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