Date: September 2018
Agency: State, VT
Explanation: Government Censorship
In September 2018, the Vermont Governor’s office removed several references to “climate change” from a report drafted by the state’s Natural Resources Board (NRB). The report, which was submitted to the Vermont Legislature in October, explored changes to the state’s land use permitting process.
A draft of the report, prepared by the Vermont NRB, had stated that climate change will “dramatically affect the health of our natural resources” in Vermont and “require different considerations for what is appropriate development and how infrastructure should be evaluated.” That language was removed by the Vermont Governor’s office. The Governor’s office also removed recommendations about climate change from the draft report. For example, a recommendation that lawmakers “consider establishing new criteria to address impacts from climate change and forest fragmentation” in the land use permit process was removed, and replaced with a suggestion that lawmakers “review the existing criteria to determine its present-day relevance.”
An aide to Vermont Governor Phil Scott described the changes as minor and stated that they were not intended as a “policy statement.” He noted that Governor Scott has advocated action to address climate change and pointed out that the final draft report suggested that lawmakers “include consideration of climate change” when reviewing changes to land use permitting.