Vermont’s environmental lab on the chopping block

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Some Department of Environmental Conservation employees are questioning a proposal to close Vermont’s environmental laboratory.

The administration of Gov. Jim Douglas has proposed the closing as part of next year’s budget cuts. Some of the work the lab does would end and other work would be sent to private labs.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Laura Pelosi says the closure would save $700,000 a year, the amount the department has been asked to cut as the state grapples with a $201 million budget shortfall.

The lab does regular and emergency testing of water, soil and air for toxic materials.

On Tuesday, six employees urged a legislative committee to keep the lab open, saying Vermont’s environmental protection would suffer and questioning whether the plan would save money.

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