Hopeful outlook for Act 250 reform

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(Host) Members of the state’s environmental and business communities are expressing optimism that the Legislature will pass a meaningful Act 250 permit reform bill this year. The Douglas administration has proposed a plan that streamlines the Act 250 review process, consolidates the appeals procedures and makes changes in which groups would be eligible for party status.

Speaking Thursday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Pat Berry, who is communications director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, said it’s likely that his group will support permit reform as long as the proposal maintains strong public involvement in the review process and provides sufficient evaluation of key environmental concerns:

(Berry) “I feel confident that we’re going to come out with something in the end that does both that and really does something to help the permit process. And because a lot of the same problems for the regulated community are problems for the environmental community, I do think we’ll come out with something if we can all be thoughtful and creative and work together on this.”

(Host) Will Adams, who represents the Business Coalition for Permit Reform, says he also believes the outlook is good for some significant reforms to Act 250:

(Adams) “If you look back over the last campaign season, candidates of virtually every political stripe talked about the need to make changes to the permit process. I really think that the stars are aligned this year. We got an administration that is dedicated, in fact it’s the centerpiece of governor Douglas’ legislative agenda to enact permit reform this year.”

(Host) It’s likely that the House Natural Resources committee will draft an Act 250 reform bill in the next few weeks.

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