Energy & Environment

The home for VPR's coverage of energy and environment issues affecting the state of Vermont.

VPR reporters Pete Hirschfeld and John Dillon cover energy and environment issues from the Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

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Water Quality & PFOA | Technology | Vermont Legislature | Iberdrola

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Mike Callahan is thigh-deep in scummy pond water, yanking loads of mud-covered sticks, mossy rocks and leaves from a blocked pipe in Millis.

“Welcome to the glamorous world of beaver control,” he says, holding up a branch that’s been gnawed to a sharp point. After pulling out a few more armloads of muck, he picks up a rake and begins dragging away bigger loads of debris.

Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell stands in front of a wall
Henry Epp / VPR

When Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell steps down at the end of the year, she’ll qualify for a $2.1 million dollar special retirement benefit.

Two lonely geese fly into the sunset
Jeffrey Hamilton / Unsplash

A recent report in the journal Science says there are 3 billion fewer birds in the world today than there were five decades ago. That's not species, that's just sheer bulk. But the abundance of birds has a significant impact on our global landscape. We're talking about birds and fall migration, and what a drop in bird abundance means for our local species and ecosystems.

In the struggle to end global warming, one community in central Pennsylvania is having remarkable success. It's growing, with tens of thousands of people, yet its greenhouse emissions have been dropping dramatically.

Perhaps most amazing: Those reductions have paid for themselves.

This is not your typical town — it's Penn State University. But in many ways, it's just like any other town or small city.

The exterior of the Green Mountain Power building in Colchester
Henry Epp / VPR File

Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell will step down from her position later this year, ending a 12-year tenure at the top of the state’s largest utility. This change comes at a time of transition for the utility.

Bottles of maple syrup in leaf-shaped bottles
Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

A new study published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management looks at how climate change will affect the timing and yield of the sugaring season in the eastern part of North America.

A woman at a podium.
Wilson Ring / Associated Press File

Mary Powell will step down as president and CEO of Green Mountain Power at the end of this year, the state's largest electric utility announced Monday.

As the world's climate changes, ocean warming is accelerating and sea levels are rising more quickly, warns a new report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The report is a synthesis of the most up-to-date climate science on oceans and ice, and it lays out a stark reality: Ocean surface temperatures have been warming steadily since 1970, and for the past 25 years or so, they've been warming twice as fast.

a pipeline
John Van Hoesen / VPR File

State regulators have approved a complex ownership deal relating to two Vermont utilities, which critics say could lead to additional fossil fuel infrastructure in the state.

Leaders from nearly 200 countries are attending a special United Nations Summit on climate change today as they face increasing pressure from citizens around the world to cut global greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming.

Currently, global emissions are on track to cause potentially catastrophic climate change in the coming decades.

Two young men hold a banner ahead of a crowd
Elodie Reed / VPR

Student protestors carried banners, waved signs and chanted slogans as they led hundreds of climate activists from Montpelier High School to city hall Friday morning.

A river at sunset
Jay Parker / flickr

The Otter Creek is the longest river contained within Vermont's borders.  It's shaped where Vermonters live, how they farm, and how the basic infrastructure and political divisions of the state are set up. And now, it's a big part of the state's phosphorus pollution problem.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

Millions of young people raised their voices at protests around the world Friday in a massive display meant to demand urgent action on climate change. Scores of students missed school to take part, some joined by teachers and parents.

Some of the first rallies began in Australia, and then spread from Pacific islands to India and Turkey and across Europe, as students kicked off what organizers were calling a Global Climate Strike.

A depiction of whalers plying their trade in the 1850s.
Courtesy of Smithsonian Libraries / Flickr

Later this week, Middlebury College is hosting a symposium focusing on the future of the world's oceans. One of the discussions features two Middlebury College students, Jennifer Crandall and Caitlin Dicara, who will be sharing some of what they learned in a semester spent focusing on both marine ecology and the history of whaling.

Climate change — or, more precisely, fighting climate change — has quickly become one of the top priorities among Democratic voters. Increasingly dire warnings about the devastating effects of climate change, as well as the sweeping Green New Deal proposed this year in Congress, have helped the topic gain traction among voters and politicians alike.

A cornfield in St. Albans
Anna Van Dine / VPR

In fall 2015, Green Mountain Power announced its plan to build a biodigester facility in St. Albans Town. It was supposed to take in manure from three area farms, as well as food waste from the region, and convert it into energy. It was also going to help reduce manure runoff into Lake Champlain. So what happened?

State of Vermont, Courtesy

Regulators say Vermont's largest solid waste district needed approval for disposing of crushed glass that was supposed to be recycled.

A woman snorkles.
Elodie Reed / VPR

According to local lore, ocean researcher and SCUBA inventor Jacques Cousteau got his start diving in the Northeast Kingdom town of Barnet in 1920. And now, researchers are exploring that same lake bottom to learn more about the role aquatic plants play in lake health.

The Trump administration is rolling back requirements for new, energy-efficient lightbulbs. The Energy Department announced the move on Wednesday, withdrawing standards that were to be put in place to make commonly used bulbs more efficient.

A woman stands next to a Tesla battery in her basement.
Dave Gram / Associated Press File

The state advocate for utility ratepayers has called for an investigation into Green Mountain Power’s plans to expand its home energy storage program. Vermont's Department of Public Service wants to know if all customers benefit.