June 20, 2018

Williston pledges support for energy transformation

Observer photo by Al Frey
Brian Forrest encourages voters to support Vermont’s renewable energy initiative at Williston’s Town Meeting on Monday at WCS.

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

Williston sent a message to the State of Vermont on a global issue Monday.

A majority of the roughly 120 Williston voters attending Town Meeting Day in Williston Central School’s auditorium Monday night approved a resolution of support for Vermont’s ambitious renewable energy goals and phasing out fossil fuels.

The resolution, crafted by the Burlington-based environmental group 350vermont.org and promoted by local environmental activists, encourages Vermont to follow through on its plan to source 90 percent of its energy needs with renewables by 2050 in an effort to combat global warming.

“We are not afraid to stand up and say we care about this,” said local organizer Marcy Kass. “This is a small step … this problem will be solved by a lot of small things just like this adding up.”

According to 350vermont.org, 34 Vermont towns passed a version of the resolution at Town Meeting Day. Williston’s version calls for the town to continue to implement energy efficiency measures and preserve land for future generations.

Critics of the resolution pointed out that local organizers failed to garner enough signatures on a petition to have the item placed on the town meeting day agenda. The selectboard voted 3-2 in January to include the resolution anyway.

With only 122 of the roughly 9,000 registered voters attending Monday night’s meeting, sending a message that the town supports the resolution is misleading, said resident John Marcotte.

Resident David Martel also opposed the resolution, questioning how a move away from fossil fuels will be enforced.

“I think solar energy is great,” he said. “It should be your decision to do it. I don’t think you should be forced into it.”

Champlain Valley Union High School senior Olivia Voth, a member of the school’s Environmental Action Club, spoke in advance of the vote, urging support for the resolution.

“I think it would be very encouraging to the younger community that our older counterparts support our environment and our future,” she said.

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