BENNINGTON — Town meeting voters last week overwhelmingly passed a resolution that urges state and municipal governments to take aggressive reaction to meet renewable energy goals.
Bennington was one of 35 towns around the state, and one of a dozen in Vermont's southernmost counties, to pass similar nonbinding referendums.
The resolution language varies among the towns, but originated with the climate action group 350 Vermont. It calls for action to meet the state's goal of achieving 90 percent of the state's energy needs from renewable energy by 2050.
Meeting that goal, David A. Durfee said during Monday's annual floor meeting in Bennington, "is vital in mitigating the seriousness the impact global warming will have on our children, grandchildren, and my new great grandchildren...Meeting that goal by 2050 means that significant progress will have been made in the next 32 years while mitigation is still possible."
The resolution adopted in Bennington urges the legislature and governor to "commit by act of legislation to the goal of meeting 90 percent of all energy needs within the state from renewable sources by 2050" and "ensure that the transition to renewable energy is fair and equitable for all residents."
Similar resolutions were adopted in Bennington County towns of Arlington, Dorset, Manchester, and Peru. Shaftsbury voters passed the resolution via Australian ballot, 284 in favor to 92 against.
"Every corner of Vermont has been impacted by climate change, with either floods, increased Lyme disease, wind storms, reduced snow, or shortened sugaring seasons," Maeve McBride, director of 350Vermont, said in a news release. "So, it's not surprising that we see these resolutions passing in 10 different Vermont counties. Clearly, Vermonters are not happy with the state's meager progress, and they want to see more action on climate change."
In Arlington, high school senior Sofie Pedemonti and eighth grader Cassidy Pickering read the resolution at town meeting. It was loudly applauded and affirmed by voice vote.
A youth led a petitioning effort in Rupert, but because of a technicality in the wording, the resolution was not on the agenda, despite a successful petition, according to 350Vermont.
Brattleboro voters passed a ballot measure by a wide margin: 910 in favor, 180 opposed. Other Windham County towns to adopt the resolution were Dummerston, Guilford, Marlboro, Putney, and Wardsboro.
The resolution adopted in Bennington references "extreme weather events, more uncertain ski, maple sugaring, and hunting conditions, and changes which have had to be made in FDA planting zone maps, all of which impact Vermont's economy and ways of life, clearly demonstrate that climate change is one of the most urgent problems facing our state."
"The effects of global warming are already all around us: Extremely erratic temperatures, severe storms, flooding, droughts, wildfires. This is just the beginning," Dick Dundas said during Monday's meeting in Bennington. "It's going to be getting worse. Consumption of fossil fuels release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and create the greenhouse effect. Science supports this almost unanimously. Since we have no federal leadership, we in Vermont have to act and act quickly. "
Ed Damon can be reached at email@example.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.