Douglas meets with Obama, discusses energy

Vermont was in the national spotlight last week when Gov. Jim Douglas visited the White House to discuss national energy policy with President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Obama, a liberal Democrat, and Douglas, a moderate Republican, shook hands and agreed to what Obama called "a non-ideological, bipartisan approach..." to confront the nation's energy problems with stepped up investments in a variety of clean-burning power sources including biofuels, biomass, hydroelectric, nuclear, as well as more efficiency investments.

Nine other state governors and government officials joined Douglas during the Washington, D.C., discussion.

The president acknowledged that Vermont is a leader in low-carbon electric generation, thanks largely to the zero-emissions of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant and various hydro stations located around the state.

Obama also acknowledged that Vermont was the first state to sign onto the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

"I appreciate the opportunity to talk with the president on these important issues," Douglas said in a news statement following the meeting. "As Washington debates our national energy policy, Vermont's lessons and achievements must be part of that dialogue. From in-state efficiency measures to our regional partnerships, like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Vermont is confronting the challenges of energy independence and climate change on many fronts."

Douglas said energy that produces non-carbon power must include nuclear as well as large hydro-affording consumers choices and allowing utilities to access resources that ensure a reliable grid.

The White House had largely ignored nuclear and hydro as carbon-free power sources until recently.

Smart Grid technology being developed in Vermont will help the state to transition to greener technologies.

Vermont recently received nearly $70 million in taxpayer funds, in addition to similar public funds, to expand the Smart Grid infrastructure in the state.

The governor noted that autos, trucks and buses are still the largest carbon emitters in the state-not in-state hydro and nuclear power plants.

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