Composting bill advances in House

03/19/09 7:34AM By John Dillon
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John Dillon
(Host) The House has advanced a bill that exempts small composting operations from state land use regulation.

But some Republican members say the Legislature has carved out piecemeal exemptions to the law. They say lawmakers should instead address the bigger issue of environmental permit reform.

VPR's John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) The bill was prompted by concerns that Vermont's Act 250 land use law could extend to farm-run compost operations.

But the bill exempts some compost operations from the law. It says that so long as the compost is principally made on the farm -- or used on the farm - Act 250 doesn't apply.

Amy Shollenberger of the group Rural Vermont says the legislation provides a needed clarification.

(Shollenberger) This bill actually will help quite a few farmers, because farmers who are wanting to compost their own manure either for their own use as compost or to sell, it helps them, no matter what size there are. Farmers who maybe are vegetable farmers, who want to take manure from another farm, but are going to use the manure on their own farm, it helps them.

(Dillon) But when the bill was debated in the House, some legislators raised the broader issue of permit reform.

Heidi Scheurmann is Republican from Stowe.

(Scheurmann) I do have concerns about this in one sense we have for years we have talked about regulatory reform in a comprehensive way and whether or not there should be reform. I have a concern with cherry-picking certain entities, as laudable and good as those entities might be and exempting them from our regulatory requirements.

(Dillon) The House gave preliminary approval to the bill. But there may be amendments before the final vote to broaden exemptions to Act 250.

For VPR News, I'm John Dillon in Montpelier.

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