Below are my answers to the Sierra Club 2012 VT Legislative Candidate Questionnaire sent to me by David Van Deusen. I want to reiterate that the opinions below reflect my own (sometime underinformed) opinion, and may not reflect the opinions of the voters of Washington County, whose opinions I have promised to accurately represent, even when my own opinion conflicts. Since I am running as a true independent, I do not have a party platform or predetermined positions on issues that I am tied to. I hope to politically empower every citizen that I represent.
What would be your preference for funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Fund?
_ Reduced Funding
_ Level funding
X Increased Funding
ATVs on State Land
Do you support the private, recreational use of All-Terrain vehicles (ATVs) on state land?
I admit that I am not as knowledgeable about this issue as I should be, and will seek to educate myself better. That said, I support licensing of a limited number of short connectors, provided it can be shown that these connectors do no substantial harm to wildlife and cause minimal erosion damage. The process of licensing should be transparent, and citizens in the surrounding communities should have a say in the final approval of the licenses.
Would you support the formation of tribal and community forests, if they are conservation driven, and support only traditional uses?
T/C F comment
I’m not entirely sure what is meant by “traditional uses” in a community forest, but designation of tribal or community forests seems like a good idea.
Do you support the continued development of utility-scale wind in Vermont?
I am somewhat on the fence on this issue – I tend towards “no” to this question, but I’m not completely against it. I am more in support of smaller-scale distributed wind power owned by individuals, in part because they’re more resilient to service interruption and also because the profits or cost savings stay within the local communities.
Would you support legislative or other action that would impose a ban on the piping of tar sands oil through Vermont?
Tar sands comment
We do not need a tar sands pipeline disaster in this state.
Do you support raising revenue to significantly increase funding to help Vermonters weatherize their homes and switch to renewable heating sources?
If so, how would you raise revenue to do this? (or other comment)
Weatherization and conversion to renewable sources is a long-term investment and should be treated as such. The cost could be borne in part on utility bills – suppose that an monthly heating bill (averaged over the whole year) was $100, and the “upgrade” costs $1000. If the new monthly heating bill is reduced to $80 (with a followup visit), the monthly savings are split between the Vermonter and the state (or organization providing the service). The resident pays $90 per month, $10 of which goes to pay off the upgrade. In a little more than 8 years, the $1000 is paid back, and the resident’s monthly price drops to $80. Calculations for inflation would need to be taken into account too, but I don’t see that as much of a complication.
Do you support expanding Vermont’s Bottle Bill (bottle redemption law) to cover non-carbonated soft drinks?
Bottle Bill comment
I support expanding it non-carbonated soft drinks and beyond to other containers and packaging.
Do you think Vermont should enact and enforce strict regulations on phosphorous run-off from dairy farms and lawns into streams, rivers and lakes?
There are reasonable steps that can be taken to mitigate excess phosphorus in agricultural settings that make good economic sense.
Do you favor increasing state expenditures for sustainable transportation facilities such as biking, walking, public transit, rail, carpooling, and electric vehicles?
Trans. Funding Comment
In many places, Vermont has terrain that can make effective public transit (or road widening for biking and walking) difficult at best. That said, I believe it’s worth the effort to decrease our reliance on cars when possible.
What do you consider to be your top three environmental concerns?
- Genetically-modified organisms in our food must be labeled. Even without the new research that points to health effects or the drift of GMO genetic material into neighboring fields, labeling these ingredients is a no-brainer!
- Sustainable local agriculture and businesses are crucial to reducing the amount of fossil fuels we use in the transportation (and production) of the food we eat and products we buy. We need to support responsible farmers who sell their crops to Vermonters and those Vermonters who grow some or all of their own food.
- We should work to drastically reduce our release of greenhouse gases with a variety of approaches.
What have you personally done to help improve our environment?
I grow and raise some of my own food, drive a fuel-efficient car, buy from local farmers when I can, limit air travel, compost obsessively, and I teach my children the same.