Statement from Jon Groveman, water and policy program director for Vermont Natural Resources Council:
“VNRC thanks the Legislature for passing H.595, which improves the state’s ability to protect Vermonters from hazardous waste pollution.
The legislation authorizes the state to assess “natural resource damages” for public trust resources like water, wildlife, and land. Over 30 states already use this important tool to protect the environment and public health. As an environmental leader, it is past time for Vermont to add this tool to our toolbox, especially in light of the recent revelations about drinking water and groundwater contamination in North Bennington and Pownal.
VNRC is, however, disappointed that the Legislature missed an opportunity to protect private water supplies by requiring well testing for basic contaminants when new wells are drilled and when homes with private wells are sold. The Legislature also decided against adding a provision to the bill that would have expanded the number of projects that require a stormwater permit, despite the fact that the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) recommended the provision to help reduce pollution in Lake Champlain and waters across the state. Not only is this a loss for clean water, but it will require the ANR to place more stringent requirements on the range of projects that require stormwater permits, including existing sites that are re-developed.
Despite these missed opportunities, we thank the Legislature for enacting H.595 to better protect Vermonters from hazardous pollution.”