Press Release

Welch Welcomes Winter Outdoor Recreation Stars to Capitol Hill to Discuss ‘Energizing our Communities Act’ and Importance of Advancing Green Energy 

May 8, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, welcomed Protect Our Winters and professional athletes, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, and climate advocates to Capitol Hill to discuss the recently introduced Energizing Our Communities Act. Senator Welch was joined by Professional Snowboarder Bea Kim, Professional Mountainbiker Dillon Osleger, Professional Climber Abbey Smith, and Professional Skier Drew Petersen. 

Unveiled on Earth Day, Sen. Welch’s new legislation would provide benefits to local communities that host Department of Energy (DOE)-supported transmission projects. The bill would help build trust between local governments and transmission developers so our nation can sustainably increase transmission capacity, which is crucial to a national clean energy transition. 

“Vermont’s outdoor recreation industry plays a vital role in our state’s culture, economy, and communities. However, years of record-breaking heat caused by climate change threaten the future of outdoor traditions across the country. In Vermont, years of unseasonable warmth have already impacted Vermont’s world-class snow sports and climate change has taken its toll throughout every season,” said Senator Welch. “It was a pleasure to meet with athletes and advocates on Capitol Hill this week to discuss the importance of combatting climate change through commonsense clean energy policy. By investing in projects that boost and strengthen the nation’s clean power transmission capacity, this bill will help preserve our outdoor traditions and carve our way toward a sustainable future.” 

The Energizing Our Communities Act invests revenue from certain Department of Energy loan programs back into communities, including tribal governments, who host transmission infrastructure. The bill aims to support national transmission grid build-out by ensuring communities see the benefits of transmission at the ground level. U.S. Representative Annie Kuster (D-N.H.-02) has introduced companion legislation in the House. 

The Energizing Our Communities Act is endorsed by Protect our Winters ; REI, VELCO: Vermont Electric Power Company; Grid Action; Vermont League of Cities and Towns; National League of Cities; National Association of Counties; Pathway Power; and Burton. Read endorser statements

Generating close to $400 million in retail sales in 2022, Vermont’s highly diversified outdoor recreation sector boosted local economies across the state. Snow activities consistently top the list of Vermont’s grossing industries, with $244 million in revenues in 2022. Vermont’s outdoor recreation sector contributed 4.6% to the state’s economy last year, ranking the state second behind Hawaii in terms of its contribution to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP). Outdoor economic activity in Vermont grew the workforce to 15,000 workers in 2022 at a rate of 12.4%, the highest percentage growth in the country. 

Learn more about the Energizing Our Communities Act