Montpelier – Today, in a significant step forward for Vermont’s commitment to addressing climate change and delivering cleaner, affordable heating options to Vermonters, the Vermont Senate voted 20-10 to override Governor Phil Scott’s veto of S.5, the Affordable Heat Act. A coalition of environmental, business and equity-focused organizations applaud Senators for their dedication to advancing this critical climate policy as the bill now heads to the House of Representatives for another override vote.
The Affordable Heat Act is designed to help Vermonters access lower cost, cleaner heat and move away from polluting, expensive, price-volatile fossil fuels. If enacted, this legislation will put Vermont on a path to reduce carbon pollution in Vermont’s heating sector in line with our legal requirements. The policy has undergone several years of analysis, research, and public engagement before, during, and after the Climate Action Plan’s development and adoption.
In recent weeks, the majority of legislators made clear they understand that the status quo is unaffordable, inequitable and unsustainable. Governor Scott, clearly, does not. Despite the Legislature delivering on his request for more information and an ensuing, affirmative vote in 2025 before program implementation, the Governor is once again proposing a costly delay. Fortunately, Senators have boldly stood against the Governor’s impediment with the understanding that Vermonters need help accessing more affordable, less polluting heating options.
“The Affordable Heat Act finally puts Vermont on the path to equitably transition to cheaper, cleaner heat,” said Ben Edgerly Walsh, Climate & Energy Program Director for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “The Governor’s veto flew in the face of what his administration’s own analysis says is necessary to achieve Vermont’s climate pollution reduction requirements, and we are grateful to the Senate for swiftly voting to override.”
“We are grateful that the Senate voted to override Governor Scott’s disappointing veto of the Affordable Heat Act. The Senate recognized that the bill aims to help all Vermonters transition to more affordable heating options, instead of leaving too many people reliant on heating fuels like oil whose price has spiked $2 per gallon in the past year,” said Lauren Hierl, Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters. “We hope the House swiftly overrides this veto as well, so the state can get to work developing this program to help Vermonters access cheaper and cleaner heating sources.”
“We’ve already lost a generation’s worth of climate action because of deception and delay,” said Elena Mihaly, VP and State Director at Conservation Law Foundation. “The Senate’s override of the Governor’s irresponsible veto acknowledges the urgency of the climate crisis. The Affordable Heat Act is a no-regrets opportunity to save Vermonters money and wean ourselves off dirty, polluting fossil fuels. We applaud the Senate for its decisive action on behalf of Vermonters.”
“I appreciate the hard vote 20 courageous Vermont Senators took today, allowing a process to proceed to explore how to help Vermonters reduce their energy bills and begin to access cleaner, healthier, more affordable heat,,” said Johanna Miller, Energy and Climate Program Director at the Vermont Natural Resources Council. “The status quo isn’t serving anyone well. Not people, and certainly not the planet. There are better solutions, and the process the Affordable Heat Act will catalyze is essential to understanding what those are so that no Vermonters are left behind in this inevitable transition.”
In Vermont, 73% of the energy used in the thermal sector comes from fossil fuels, all of which is imported, and 75% of those dollars leave our local economy. Enacting the Affordable Heat Act provides Vermont an opportunity to do things differently. With S.5, by transitioning the business model of fossil fuel heating providers, we can reduce overall heating costs for Vermonters by a projected $2 billion, or an average of $7,500 per household, just from actions taken by 2030.
“We applaud those Senators who casted their vote today to override the Governor’s veto. Their yes vote represents the bold action that we need on climate change. We respectfully call upon our Representatives to follow suit.” said Roxanne Vought, Executive Director, Businesses for Social Responsibility.
“Thank you to the Vermont Senate for their continued leadership for climate justice by overriding the Governor’s veto. The Affordable Heat Act is an important step to creating a more equitable and affordable thermal sector and ensuring all Vermonters benefit from the transition to less polluting energy sources,” said Dan Fingas, VT Movement Politics Director for Rights & Democracy.
“The Vermont Sierra Club is pleased with the Vermont Senate’s vote to override Governor Scott’s veto. These thoughtful Senators took the time to overcome the fear tactics distributed by opposition groups and a political philosophy that prefers the status quo. We believe regulating heating fuels is critical in reducing carbon emissions and meeting our state’s legally binding climate requirements. The Affordable Heat Act is a step forward in removing Vermonter’s dependence on dirty and expensive fossil fuels,” said Robb Kidd, Conservation Program Manager, Vermont Sierra Club.
Johanna Miller, VNRC, firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-371-9611
Ben Edgerly Walsh, VPIRG, email@example.com, 802-734-7680
Lauren Hierl, VCV, firstname.lastname@example.org, 860-670-2629
Dan Fingas, Rights & Democracy, email@example.com, 802-578-6272
Roxanne Vought, VBSR, firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-859-0344
Robb Kidd, Vermont Sierra Club, email@example.com, 802-505-1540
Elena Mihaly, CLF, firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-622-3009