Gray: Optimism for a resilient Vermont

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I am optimistic about our future. We are experiencing two societal traumas, one new and one as old as our history, which will either make us stronger or pull us further apart. I choose to engage with the challenges before us and work with you to improve the systems that lie at the heart of these challenges. This is the moment to act, and we will.

We are at our best as a state and as a country when we have resolved to act.

Our farmers and food producers are acting under unprecedented demand, and are making forward progress to strengthen our local food systems and bring safe and healthy food to families. Our businesses are innovating and adapting to protect the health and safety of our communities and to deliver essential goods and services. Our neighbors are organizing to deliver essential aid and to join each other in the streets to protect the liberty and dignity of every Vermonter.

We are seeing the same spirit of community that brought out the best in Vermont after the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene. We need the same all-in approach when it comes to the challenge that is both here now and threatening our future: climate change.

The Global Warming Solutions Act, which has passed the Vermont House and remains stalled in the Senate, is one such opportunity. The GWSA would move us beyond hope as a strategy. It would create binding targets to hold us accountable. It would generate much needed economic opportunity by keeping more dollars in state and putting Vermonters to work in well-paying jobs and innovative careers. It would create systems that enable all Vermonters to engage in the transition to greener, more affordable energy.

To be clear, the GWSA is the first step in the hard work we need to do together to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change on our communities. However, without a focusing framework, we will continue to talk and not act. We cannot afford half-hearted support for climate action. We must resolve to act and work together and put in place the support Vermonters need to transition to clean energy.

Critics of the bill say Vermont is too small to make a difference. They say Vermonters cannot afford the cost. These are not criticisms of the bill; these are a failure to recognize that Vermonters are paying the costs of a changing climate right now. We must have the backbone to do our part, and it is the responsibility of the state to support programs to fight climate change.

Leadership means doing what is right even when it's hard. Join me in calling on the Vermont Senate to pass the GWSA and to send the bill to the Governor. Now, more than ever, we need to take action for a resilient and prosperous future for every Vermont community.

Molly Gray is a Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. She is an assistant attorney general and adjunct professor of human rights law at Vermont Law School.

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