NEWPORT CITY â€“ Lt. Gov. Phil Scott hit the campaign trail yesterday, using the ultimate green method of transportation â€“ a bicycle. Scott sailed through Charleston, Derby and Newport with his entourage close at hand in a pick-up truck with spare bikes and parts.
Scott embarked on the 14-county, 500-mile ride yesterday in St. Johnsbury. Now, he heads to St. Albans then to Malletts Bay in the western part of the state. Scott, who plans to ride between 60 and 90 miles a day, will finish his journey next Tuesday.
Scott, who is also a stock car driver, has been riding for years and is accustomed to biking 75 to 100 miles a day. He has encouraged his staff to do the same. His campaign manager and a friend mapped out the trek and set the timetable, which, so far, he has been able to keep. Last night he rested in Newport.
Besides fighting the rain and dumping his bicycle on a railroad crossing in St. Johnsbury, things went well during Scottâ€™s first day. He called the ride through the foliage scenery beautiful.
Scott hopes to promote tourism and fitness, so that Vermonters, especially children, understand the importance of taking care of themselves.
Scott, who is seeking his second term in the second highest office in the state, previously served in the state senate for 10 years. He feels his office helped a lot people, but he knows there is more work to do.
â€śI think people still need a voice,â€ť he said. â€śI represent, I believe in, the populace of Vermont and want to continue to do that.â€ť
Scott, a Republican, is sure he can continue to work well with Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin even though Shumlin hopes to have someone from his own party fill the lieutenant governorâ€™s seat.
Scott said he served with Shumlin in the senate and remains part of his cabinet. Scott said he was disappointed when Shumlin started searching for a replacement.
â€śThatâ€™s politics,â€ť said Scott. â€śI can put that aside.â€ť
Scott has not dismissed the idea of running for governor nor has he given it a whole lot of thought.
Scott was one of the four senators who asked the Vermont Public Service Board to decide the fate of Vermont Yankee. He said opponents who tried to prevent that lost ground because the Supreme Court ruled that owners of the plant should be able to apply for the extension of the plantâ€™s license under the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He said the plant should shut done if it's not safe. Scott feels nuclear power should and could be part of the energy mix until something else comes along.
During the past legislative session, Scott said he felt there should be a moratorium on industrial wind. He doesnâ€™t regret the state moving with the initial siting of industrial wind, however.
â€śThis gives us an opportune time to reassess and to look at whether it makes economical sense, whether it makes environmental sense from a tourism standpoint. Is this something that will be a detractor or an attraction?â€ť asked Scott. â€śI think itâ€™s a good time to sit back, have a two to three year moratorium on new applications and letâ€™s see if this is really what we want.â€ť
Scott doesnâ€™t want to make mistake with the ridgelines, beauty and tourism.
There are two separate issues regarding healthcare, Scott said. First, there is the Affordable Care Act that the state will most likely adhere to, something Scott feels will take a lot of work and money to implement. He is skeptical the state to go further and implement single payer healthcare. Scott said nobody has told him how much the program will cost or how it will be implemented.
Vermonters are taxed to the maximum, said Scott. He thinks the state should look at ways to grow the economy to relieve some of the tax burden.
The permit process is difficult from a number of different standpoints, Scott said. This includes local, state and federal permits and can be a deterrent to some. Scott wants to adhere to tough environmental standards but doesnâ€™t think the state should use the permit as a way to say no to a project.
Scott is concerned that many young people are leaving the state for better opportunities. In order to have good opportunities in Vermont, the state needs good, solid, economic opportunities.