Agency of Natural Resources

The health department will test drinking water in 16 schools for lead, and the results could lead to a statewide testing program.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Bennington residents who have been dealing with contaminated water are starting to get frustrated with the state's ability to find a long-term solution to their problem.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR file

In a move that has drawn criticism from an environmental watchdog, officials in the administration of Gov. Phil Scott have withdrawn a petition that would have ensured heightened protections for a 28-acre wetland in southeast Vermont.

The Conservation Law Foundation filed in Vermont environmental court Wednesday to join a trio of cases related to the state’s planned redevelopment of the Colchester exit of Interstate 89, and the group has an unlikely ally in its efforts.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

The incoming leader of Vermont's environmental agency says there is one factor that has made water quality issues more complicated over the years: climate change.

Environmental watchdogs say they’re heartened by Governor-elect Phil Scott’s pick to lead the Agency of Natural Resources, but that it’s too early to discern whether the incoming Republican administration is serious about cleaning up Lake Champlain and tackling some of the other major environmental issues facing Vermont.

The Scott administration wants to reallocation existing revenues to pay for clean water initiatives, but lawmakers are worried the plan could shortchange other state programs.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR/File

Next month, Vermont Treasurer Beth Pearce will unveil a much-anticipated legislative report that will tell lawmakers how to raise the $1.3 billion needed to clean up Lake Champlain and other polluted waterways. And Governor-elect Phil Scott may soon find himself at odds with Democrats — and environmental advocates — over how to come up with the money.

Mosa'ab Elshamy / AP

As world leaders wrap up the annual United Nations climate change conference this week in Marrakech, Morocco, many there are worried about President-elect Donald Trump's plan to pull the U.S. out of a major climate change agreement.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Vermont streams have some of the purist gold in the world, although it's found in tiny quantities. But officials warn that you need a state permit if you're going to disturb the stream with a sluice box to find it.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a new hazardous chemical bill Wednesday that gives the state more power to go after companies that pollute the environment.

Andrew McKeever / VPR

Four years after Tropical Storm Irene devastated central and southern Vermont, federal officials have identified nearly 900 properties in Bennington County as being in high-risk areas for future floods.

Property owners now have a three-month window to buy flood insurance before the cost of coverage will increase.

Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

A crowd of more than 30 people gathered at the town hall in Cabot this week to discuss the way Cabot Creamery gets rid of wastewater leftover from cleaning its plant. The cheese maker is asking the state to renew its permit to spray the liquid on land. The crowd was there for a hearing called by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources to take public comment on a draft permit issued in June.

Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife

All-terrain vehicles, better known as ATVs, are currently banned from use on state lands in Vermont. But that outright prohibition could change with the passage of a new rule now under consideration.

Rebecca Ellis, who has served in the Vermont House of Representatives since 2011, resigned her post this week to take a job with the state’s Agency of Natural Resources, the governor’s office announced today.

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced that Ellis, who served as an Assistant Attorney General from 1997 to 2011, will start a job as Senior Counsel for Government Affairs at the Department of Environmental Conservation on August 10.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR/file

David Mears, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, announced his plans to leave state government Thursday. Mears said he plans to return to Vermont Law School, where he will teach environmental law.

“There was an opportunity to go back and teach at Vermont Law School and those opportunities don’t come along that often and I really enjoyed the chance I’d had previously to work with students, so the chance to do that was highly appealing to me,” Mears said in an interview.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

State officials have been working since 2012 to roll out a law designed to reduce the amount of recyclable materials going to landfills, and July 1 is the next major step in those efforts.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Believe it or not, bathing suit weather is coming. But for the fourth summer, residents in Norwich will not be cooling off in their popular natural swimming hole. After Tropical Storm Irene washed out the dam over Charles Brown Brook, Norwich began tangling with the state over a plan to re-make the pool.

AP File Photo

The state of Vermont has issued a draft pollution permit for Vermont Yankee that imposes new limits on how much the nuclear plant can heat the Connecticut River.

Yankee uses the river for cooling water. Environmentalists for years have argued that the heated discharge harms fish and other aquatic life.

Plant owner Entergy plans to shut down the reactor by the end of the year. But if the permit is finalized over the next several months, the lower limits would apply to Yankee’s operation this fall.

The owners of Vermont Yankee say the plant can’t operate under the state’s proposed conditions for releasing heated water into the Connecticut River. A leading environmentalist counters that the plant’s thermal discharge harms the river’s migrating fish.

Entergy Vermont Yankee uses the river to cool its reactor. It’s been releasing heated water into the Connecticut under an expired permit for at least eight years. But a new permit is expected to include more stringent standards on how much heat the plant can add to the river.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

As the state prepares to set a new course for Lake Champlain cleanup, wastewater treatment plants across Vermont continue to dump millions of gallons of polluted water into Lake Champlain and other waterways.

Most of the plant operators responsible for the unauthorized releases aren’t penalized in any way.

“There’s no question that all of the sewage treatment plants in Vermont, at least in the Lake Champlain basin, are going to have to do more to reduce phosphorus levels,” said David Mears, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.