Vermont House passes Act 250 modernization bill that strengthens environmental protections in Vermont’s land use law

Montpelier, VT – Today the Vermont House of Representatives passed H.926, an Act 250 modernization bill, 88 to 52 with tri-partisan support. This legislation strengthens Act 250 environmental protections and equips Vermont’s land use law to better serve current and future generations.  

H.926 adds criteria to Act 250 to better protect forest blocks, wildlife habitat, and river corridors. It promotes efforts to foster sustainable trail development. It supports smart growth by reducing sprawling development while facilitating development in our compact downtowns, villages, and neighborhoods.

The bill also better addresses climate change — an issue that was not in the public consciousness when Act 250 was enacted in 1970 — through consideration of transportation and energy impacts of development.

“Act 250 was passed 50 years ago this year, and the challenges facing our state have changed and grown. It is imperative that the laws safeguarding our environment are updated to better address today’s challenges, which signing this bill into law would accomplish,” said Brian Shupe, Executive Director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC).

Several of Vermont’s foremost environmental groups sent a letter of support for H.926 to Vermont Representatives this week, including VNRC, The Nature Conservancy in Vermont, Audubon Vermont, Vermont Conservation Voters, and Conservation Law Foundation. Find the full letter here.

“As leading environmental and conservation organizations in Vermont, it is our long-time goal to ensure that Vermont’s natural resources, wild places, and working lands are preserved for the ecological, cultural, and economic value they provide, and for the health of the state and Vermonters overall,” the letter stated.

David Mears, Executive Director of Audubon Vermont, notes that “The loss of Vermont’s forests is a major threat to Vermont’s birds. I am excited to see the important progress that this bill makes for forest protection while recognizing the need to support our forest economy.”

“We thank the House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee for their long, hard work on this important Act 250 modernization legislation, and are pleased it moved forward with tri-partisan support through the House,” said Lauren Hierl, Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters (VCV). 

“We look forward to working with the Senate to advance this legislation so we can better protect our environment while encouraging development in those places we want it, ensuring we maintain Vermont’s unique and beloved character,” Hierl added.

“As the bill continues to move through the Legislature, we will continue to advocate for improvements to Act 250 that will increase environmental protections and improve the Act 250 process for the environment, business, communities, and interested citizens,” said Shupe.

“Passage of this bill by the House with tri-partisan support is an important step forward for Vermont’s priceless forests, rivers, and wildlife,” stated Phil Huffman, Director of Government Relations and Policy for The Nature Conservancy in Vermont. “It also makes important changes to Act 250 that will benefit our communities statewide, sustain our rural working landscape, and help us tackle the growing challenge of climate change. We look forward to working with the Senate and Governor Scott toward enactment of this key legislation this year.”

###

Contact:
Brian Shupe, Vermont Natural Resources Council
(802) 498-5300, bshupe@vnrc.org

Phil Huffman, The Nature Conservancy in Vermont
(802) 371-9501, phuffman@tnc.org