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Issue Position: Environment

Location: Unknown

Our environment is something neither to be exploited nor ignored. We impact the health and well-being of our ecosystem, just as our ecosystem impacts our society. Healthy forests and land provide clean potable water and improve the resiliency of our landscapes during major storm events, which in turn protects our roads, homes, and fields. Healthy ecosystems support higher populations and a wider diversity of plants and animals. Greater biodiversity and beautiful, healthy ecosystems create more outdoor recreational and economic opportunities, such as tourism, skiing, hiking, birding, camping, foraging, hunting, forestry, sugaring, farming, and fishing, just to name a few. We must create policies that balance our need to protect and conserve our environment with other societal needs. Through practices like renewable harvesting of wood products and regenerative farming, we can conserve and protect our lands while also supporting and increasing economic opportunities.

Warming and erratic temperatures are putting stress on our ecosystem. Our forests and trees, like the Hemlock, Ash, and White Pine, become more vulnerable to invasive insects. Tick-born diseases like Lyme disease are more common because of rising temperate, and fewer but larger precipitation events are causing flooding, erosion, destruction, and drought across the state. Sugaring and farming seasons are changing. For the first time in 100 years, we are seeing a decline in tree coverage in Vermont. Sea level rise will also impact major metropolitan areas along the coast, causing climate migrants from cities like Boston and New York to flee to higher elevations in rural areas like Vermont, overwhelming local infrastructures.

The problems that will arise as a result of climate change are predictable, and as such we can prepare for them and create solutions to prevent or mitigate them before they become a crisis. I believe that we need to do more in Vermont to manage our water by capturing it during major rain events and redistributing it during droughts. We should do more to prevent the spread of invasive plants and insects in and around Vermont as well as more education for treatment and prevention of diseases. We should put a price on carbon that would make polluters pay for their C02 emissions and also incentivize land owners, foresters, and farmers who work to manage and sequester carbon. I believe we need more conservation efforts to prevent sprawl, parcelisation, and development of our forests and farms. I believe we also need to be growing the capacity of our infrastructure while also improving its strength, resiliency, and independence. I believe we must protect and be stewards of our environment so that we are leaving our children and their children with something better than what we inherited.

Vermont must become 100% energy independent through the use of renewable energy sources. By creating our own electricity, we can keep energy dollars in the state and in our communities. This would also decrease our dependence on foreign oil, gas, and coal. By using renewable energy sources, we create stable and predictable prices as well as prices that are already becoming comparable if not cheaper than fossil fuel based energy. By producing our own energy, we can earn revenues for the state by exporting excess energy. Using renewable energy reduces our carbon footprint. I believe the state should invest heavily into building more wind, solar, and other forms of renewable energy until we are 100% energy independent.

Efficiency- Increasing the efficiency of the appliances we use in our homes and businesses will save us money over time by reducing how much electricity we consume. Having a more airtight and insulated home allows for a more efficient use of energy for heating and cooling. This saves us money over time, reduces our carbon footprint and just makes us more comfortable in our homes. We should be creating more incentives and education for businesses, residents, and municipalities to make their buildings more energy efficiency. There needs to be more money going toward efforts to create more energy efficient housing for our low income communities.

Power Grid- Electrification of heating and driving puts more stress on our power grid. Increased energy generation from solar and wind will require upgrades to a more sophisticated grid that can handle higher voltages and direct and irregular energy currents. More major perceptions and weather events will test the limits of our antiquated grid and ultimately lead to more power outages. We must upgrade our power grid, so it can meet the demands and needs of a 21st century society. We must create more back up power storage to be used during peak energy demand, as well as to provide backup energy when the power goes out.

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