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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An eel on a beach.
Sjo/iStock

American eels are washing up dead on the shores of northern Lake Champlain, and biologists are investigating what may be killing them.

When curbside recycling caught on in the 1970s, it was mostly about cans, glass, cardboard and paper. That's how Donald Sanderson remembers it.

Sanderson is 90 years old, an earnest man with a ready smile. Every Thursday in Woodbury, N.J., where he lives, he hauls a big blue recycling bin out to the curb. Recycling is close to his heart. "I guess you could say I'm the father of recycling," he says. "I don't know if that's good or bad."

A ladybug on a leaf.
Alina McCullen / iStock

A post on Instagram prompted a conversation with Kent McFarland, of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, about both native and nonnative ladybugs in Vermont. First thing's first though: you may need to expand your imagination when it comes to what a ladybug — or as McFarland calls it, a lady beetle — even looks like.

State scientists climb carefully up on the edge of the Cotton Brook landslide in Waterbury.
John Dillon / VPR

One of the biggest landslides ever recorded in Vermont is now giving scientists a living laboratory to learn what happened and to assess other slide-prone areas statewide. 

Waterbury, seen here in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, was one of the towns that sustained severe flood damage from the storm.
Toby Talbot / AP file

Eight years ago, Vermont was waylaid by Tropical Storm Irene, causing intense flooding around the state. For those who suffered loss of home and property, it's an event they'll never forget. We look at what's been done to prepare for future flooding in the state.

In a move that critics say will hurt plants, animals and other species as they face mounting threats, the Trump administration is making major changes to how the Endangered Species Act is implemented. The U.S. Department of Interior on Monday announced a suite of long-anticipated revisions to the nation's premier wildlife conservation law, which is credited with bringing back the bald eagle and grizzly bears, among other species.

The U.S. EPA logo on a door of the building in Washington, DC
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press File

Vermont has joined five other states in a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision to allow the continued use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos.

A two-spotted cuckoo nomad bee specimen
Spencer Hardy / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

This summer, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies has spearheaded the Vermont Wild Bee Survey in Chittenden County. According to project coordinator Spencer Hardy, more than 320 species have been documented thus far — and nearly a dozen appear to be species of wild bees that were previously unknown to be in the state.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is out with a new report Thursday examining how land use contributes to climate change and other environmental problems.

deer stands in a field of grass
Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

A key legislative panel is set to weigh in on the biggest changes to Vermont's deer hunting rules in decades.

A woman stands in a lake with a boat.
John Dillon / VPR

Vermont’s cleanest lakes are showing alarming signs of increasing phosphorus pollution — the nutrient that feeds algae blooms — according to a research study published by state scientists.

About 60 people attended a public forum Wednesday night about potential sites for Dartmouth College’s proposed biomass plant.

While some questions focused on the three possible sites for the plant, more audience members challenged the idea of having a biomass plant at all, asking the college to consider solar or other technologies.

The plant is part of Dartmouth's plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025. The biomass plant would produce energy for a new hot water heating system at the college.

A yellow-vested man stands over a landfill.
Jane Lindholm / VPR File

Last week, a proposal to expand Vermont’s only landfill moved a step forward: A state environmental board approved an Act 250 permit for the controversial project.

In Florida, the Army Corps of Engineers is working to combat a growing environmental menace: blue-green algae. Nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from farms and subdivisions combines with warm summer weather to create massive blooms of algae in rivers and lakes that can be toxic.

A bloom of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, inundates the shore of Lake Champlain in this undated photo.
Vermont Department of Health, courtesy

Hot summer weather is bringing Vermont's water quality concerns to a boil, with toxic blue-green algae blooms infecting lakes and rivers and closing beaches in the last week. We're talking about Vermont's water quality issues and the state's efforts to solve its clean water problems.

A woman carries a banner.
John Dillon / VPR

State utility regulators heard more details Tuesday about a Canadian energy company’s plans to increase its indirect ownership stake in two of Vermont’s largest utilities.

David Emmons stands on a boat in the lake, pointing
John Dillon / VPR

How far should humans go to change the course of nature? That's one of the big questions behind a controversy about a lake in Rutland County.

The Otter Creek area is seeing a population surge of hundreds of thousands more northern leopard frogs than usual.
Calgary Reviews / flickr

Vermonters in the area of Otter Creek in Cornwall, Leicester, and Salisbury have been noticing something remarkable lately: hundreds of thousands more frogs than usual. Northern leopard frogs to be exact, in lawns, in pools, and — unluckily for the frogs — on the roads.

Blue-green algae blooms in the summer of 2014 in Lake Champlain.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR FILE

A recently released state auditor's report says the majority of money spent to reduce phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain goes to the least cost-effective solutions. 

Watts: One Less Car

Jul 10, 2019
Glenn Russell

I live on a country road in Hinesburg, with a walkability score of zero - meaning there is nothing within walking distance of my house, except a very nice walk - no stores, jobs, or other necessities of daily life. Despite our remote location, we’re a two-driver, one car family. And it works. During the week, my routine varies between pedaling the twelve miles to my job in Burlington or riding into the village, where I mount my bike on a public bus heading into the city.

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