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Final days at my spring internship

Thursday was my last day at my internship with Toxics Action Center. It has been a remarkable opportunity to work/volunteer with them this spring. I feel completely rewarded for all of the experiences in the non-profit sector I have had with them. It has been tough balancing 4 classes, personal hobbies, social time with friends, homework, class projects, and sleep this semester but, I tend to thrive on having too much to do rather than not enough. It actually improves my time management abilities. I know that is not for everyone though. However, I do not think there is anything that I would change about this semester at this point.

The project I was working on with TAC was to assist municipalities with program establishment to implement a salvage yard registration law that passed last summer. In coordinated efforts with the State DEC and another TAC volunteer, we developed 14 documents. Ten of those documents are templates drafted to be readily used by municipalities needing resources to jump start their programs. The other four documents were guidance materials for the regulators to explain what the templates were, how to use them, and answer basic questions. All of the efforts of TAC, lobbyists, and calls for additional resources for DEC are beginning to be heard by the media.

Last Tuesday at a press conference at the State House, the TAC Director for Vermont brought attention to the currently 215 illegal salvage yards in comparison to the 76 that are legal. The DEC Commissioner spoke as well as current legally operating salvage yard owner/ operators. The intent of the conference was to push the legislators to pass a fee bill that will create revenue to fund one or two state inspectors sustainably. To see some of the media coverage look at (Hopefully that link works.) Its really exciting to see projects I’ve been deeply involved in since January making a significant difference in law and policy. The Vermont Yankee retirement vote in the Senate was, of course, another huge opportunity to be involved with directly.

At the moment the salvage yard documents will begin to be distributed to Selectboard members and Town Clerks throughout the state. As soon as the DEC establishes an implementation assistance website the documents will be posted there for municipalities to download. Other land use and municipal resource organizations like the League of Cities and Towns have graciously offered posting space on their website as has the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission. This is a pretty exciting beginning and tremendously rewarding to know documents I helped create have the backing of the DEC inspector and acceptance for internet publication by a wide array of reputable government resources.

I have also pitched the project to the Land Use Institute (LUI) at VLS for continuation of where I left off. As there are numerous angles to provide critical assistance to municipal officials and owner/ operators, they may just select the issue as something to pursue this fall. I certainly am hoping it is.


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