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.

Follow them on Twitter for the latest.

Explore our coverage by topic or chronologically by scrolling through the list below

Water Quality & PFOA | Technology | Vermont Legislature | Iberdrola

Have a story idea?

Send us an email.

Have a news tip that requires investigation?

Reach out to VPR's Investigations Desk.

Daron Tansley, Courtesy

When Vermont’s ice and snow melts this spring, the runoff will create thousands of temporary wetlands.

The spent nuclear fuel at Vermont Yankee is being moved from the cooling pools, shown in this photo, into dry cask storage.
Toby Talbot / AP/file

When you think about renewable energy, does a nuclear power plant come to mind? Probably not. But in a roundabout way,  Vermont utilities are using nuclear energy to meet the state’s renewable energy standards.

After the last Ice Age, the now-extinct heath hen were among the birds that populated Vermont.
American Museum of Natural History Library / Flickr

When we talk about birds on Vermont Edition, it's most often about what you're able to see outside right now. At your bird feeder, in your yard and in the forests. But birder and conservationist Maeve Kim took us on a trip back in time to "see" the ornithology of Vermont from the end of the last Ice Age forward.

Stafford: Time To Tap

Feb 11, 2019
Luke Q. Stafford

Supporting your local economy; it’s a virtue many Vermonters seem to hold dear. So here’s a seasonally-appropriate tip for improving an economy so local, it’s literally in many backyards. 

Four bills being considered at the Statehouse have the reduction of plastic waste in their sights.
brunorbs / iStock

Four bills have been introduced in the Vermont Legislature that are trying to reduce the use and waste of plastics. These range from bills targeting plastic bottles, bags and straws, microplastics and buoys and docks. We'll discuss how to reduce plastic use and waste and the bills aimed at this goal.

AP/Toby Talbot

Vermont’s on and off again winter has overloaded some of the state’s aging waste water treatment systems, resulting in hundreds of thousands of gallons of sewage spilling into rivers and streams.

Four adults stand with snowshoes on.
John Dillon / VPR

The state’s largest wetlands area stretches 15 miles along the Otter Creek in Addison and Rutland counties. Local groups have started talking to the state about how to provide greater protection for the Otter Creek wetlands, as the Trump administration seeks to roll back national wetland protection rules. 

Yates

We’re not the only state to claim our own fifth season. Here it’s Mud Season. In Alaska, the big melt is called Spring Break Up. But whatever the name, this transition from winter to spring signals a reconnecting to the land.

A ridge in Swanton Vermont in the distance, site of proposed wind project.
Melody Bodette / VPR File

The state has agreed to reimburse a wind developer most of the cost of a permit fee for a project now on hold.

The Beta Technologies prototype Ava XC lands during a test flight at the Plattsburgh International Airport.
Eric Adams / Beta Technologies

Electric transportation offers the promise of rapid travel and zero emissions, often seen in the increasingly sophisticated electric cars that can travel 200 to 300 miles on a single charge. But electric air travel poses unique challenges, not the least of which includes swapping a jet fuel-powered engine for a battery-powered aircraft.

Now the South Burlington- and Plattsburgh-based Beta Technologies is demoing an electric "air taxi" that the company says will be the electric aircraft at the center of planned cross-country flight this summer.

Suzanne Spencer Rendahl

Unlike many who flock to ski resorts, I’ve always balked at the price of lift tickets as well as the crowds. Memories from childhood sitting on a chairlift while getting battered by the wind, and then ice skating down a steep slope also haven’t helped. So early in adulthood I learned the joys of cross- and back-country skiing, which allow me to fly through the woods under my own power.

Riad Hamade (left) and Alwayne Lawrence (right) ride a crowded Stowe Mountain Road Shuttle. Hamade is in town for a ski vacation and Lawrence works at the resort.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Green Mountain Transit recently said it may cut routes and raise fares to stay afloat. The announcement surprised both riders and representatives from the state and towns that subsidize the bus service.

A ridge in Swanton Vermont in the distance, site of proposed wind project.
Melody Bodette / VPR File

The Vermont Supreme Court says the state has to repay a wind developer all or part of a $100,000 fee required for environmental review of a project in Swanton that is now on hold.

The developers had paid the fee, but asked for the money back after an adverse ruling from the state Public Utility Commission.

Volunteers help block, split and stack firewood as part of the wood bank firewood program at the United Way of Lamoille County.
United Way of Lamoille County, courtesy

January's Brave Little State looks at the pros and cons of heating with wood. About 38 percent of Vermont homes burn wood for some kind of heat. Almost a fifth of all households rely on wood as their primary way of staying warm.

But when Vermonters who heat with wood face the choice of heating their home or putting food on the table, it often falls to donation-based and volunteer-staffed wood banks to offer enough wood to help out.

Levin: Roadside Raptors

Jan 23, 2019
Susan Tiholiz

Whenever I drive the interstate after a heavy snowfall, I scan roadside maples and oaks for perched raptors, grimly hunched and staring at the highway — a redtail or a Cooper’s hawk, perhaps; or maybe an immature bald eagle, as brown as dirt and big as a grocery bag.

Firewood stacked in a shed.
Emily Corwin / VPR

“What are the environmental and economic benefits of wood heat in Vermont? And then what are the costs to that?” That question comes to Brave Little State from Coco Moseley of Lincoln, who – like many Vermonters – heats her family’s home with an antique wood stove.

Winter is back with a vengeance. And this year, New England is using a new method to ensure the electric grid can work reliably through cold, snow and ice. It’s called “Pay for Performance,” and it’s a competitive market system that rewards power generators for efficiency, and punishes them for poor execution.

 A plow driver uses a broom to clear off his truck in Burlington.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Parts of Vermont saw as much as 18 inches of snow over the weekend. Big snow storms like this can pose a challenge for cities and towns with already strained budgets. We're talking about how municipalities work to keep roads safe and clear while facing challenges like high salt prices and aging equipment. 

Herb Swanson / swanpix.com

The push for renewable energy has been strong in Vermont. So strong that the grid in northeast Vermont sometimes gets so overloaded that renewable energy projects are ordered offline.

Yates: Fresh Snow

Jan 21, 2019
Yates

Looking out on the canvas of fresh snow that now blankets the trees and hills of our region, I realize that the artificial boundaries we create like fences, roads, and property lines are gone. They’ve all but vanished. And when I head out on skis, across the dirt road from my house, up along my neighbor’s cow path hill, over the crumbling old stone wall, and into the upper pasture I’m struck by the fresh, undisturbed vista before me.

Pages