Vermont Gov. Phil Scott vetoes land conservation bill
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Gov. Phil Scott has vetoed a land conservation bill that supporters say intended to protect biodiversity and improve climate resilience.
The legislation set goals of conserving 30% of Vermont land by 2030 and 50% by 2050.
Scott, a Republican, wrote in his veto message to lawmakers Thursday that the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources testified multiple times against this bill, saying the conservation goals in it “are unnecessarily tied to – and unreasonably limited to – permanent protection.”
“The Agency has repeatedly said that permanent preservation has not been, and cannot be, the state’s exclusive conservation tool and this bill, intentional or not, would diminish the existing and successful conservation tools we have,” Scott wrote.
House Speaker Jill Krowinski and House Natural Resources Chair Amy Sheldon said the act was part of a package of environmental legislation that sought to build on the state’s conservation work and help reduce the impact of climate change on communities, and now joins other environmental protection legislation that Scott has vetoed in recent years.
Environmental groups also criticized the move.
The bill would have created a statewide conservation plan, given the current and future development pressures on Vermont’s landscape, combined with the “historic biodiversity loss and climate change,” the Vermont Natural Resources Council said in a statement.
“Because of the Governor’s veto, we are left with no plan to address the increasing fragmentation of our rural and working lands,” said Jamey Fidel, the council’s forest program and wildlife director.
Last month, the Biden administration detailed steps to achieve an ambitious goal to conserve nearly one-third of America’s lands and waters by 2030.