Who are you?

I am Peter Duval, and I am an independent candidate for governor of Vermont. More about me here.

Why are you running for governor?

I am running because Red & Blue teams are not getting the job done. I am running so that there is a choice on the ballot for ecologists and other voters who care about our planet, the one and only habitable planet in the universe.

Vermont has fallen behind in meeting weak climate goals set decades ago. Since then, the ecological problem has worsened dramatically. Yet Vermont dithers with over-elaborate technology substitution programs that are too-little-too-late. Vermont politicians seem to have made a pact to deliberately ignore greenhouse gas emissions from biomass energy and hydro -- lifecycle/scope 3 emissions, too.

And sprawl continues to chew up Vermont's open space -- farmland and forest that is much easier to preserve than restore.

Red & Blue teams play ping pong for political power using the same rhetoric: ‘climate crisis’, ‘housing crisis’, ‘demographic crisis’, etc. Both teams lose the ball. Vermont needs to break out of that game and echo chamber, to think differently about its problems and opportunities. I am running to change the language and ideas of the political debate, to expand our ways of thinking and approaches to problem solving.

Why should we vote for you?

I am going to lose the election. Phil will win.

Votes for Phil or Brenda won't change the Red versus Blue political dynamic.

The most impactful vote is voting for Earth -- voting 'Peter Duval' for governor, which will elevate ecology in Vermont politics. I offer a rapid transition to a climate-safe Vermont and modern, practical approaches to child care, education, health care, opioids, housing, and gun safety.

What is your political philosophy?

I take political inspiration from the Great One, Wayne Gretzky. I skate to where the policy will be.

To get there, I listen to Greta Thunberg's December 3, 2018, assessment that "there are no politics" to accomplish what must be done and that "we can’t save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules [of politics] have to be changed." We don't have time for dithering half-measures. Small steps do not work when one finds themselves stepping over a crevasse. Slow movement doesn't work when trying to run up a down escalator. We can't get to the moon by climbing Mount Mansfield; to go to Mars, we would need a rocket and some pioneering robots. It is difficult to find a suitable metaphor when addressing a global ecological problem that is beyond human experience. We must expand our imagination.

Math and statistics are powerful tools that rust. It's easy to lose track of scale. We all need to keep sharpening our math skills to understand complicated and complex systems.

No process change or technofix can substitute for citizen participation in democracy. It takes effort, but voting is just the beginning of active citizenship, and citizenship requires education. To many, school has become job training at the expense of education and democracy in education. "School" needs to continue expanding, innovating, and involving everyone in order for democracy to succeed.

Government procurement is a powerful tool for advancing technology and culture.

Fail early, fail often.

Prudently anticipate {environmental regulation | downturn | upturn | error}.

Zero is the goal-- real zero. Zero whatever is being measured and optimized: zero excess species extinction, zero increase in global temperature, zero traffic casualty, zero deforestation, etc.

Governments are better at providing universal services than means-tested programs, as described by George Lakey in Viking Economics. Economics happens within the planet's biosphere. Economics cannot overrule or overrun ecology.

Dedicated funds within the state government should be avoided. They create fiefdoms and prevent a rational allocation of government resources. Revenue sources should be evaluated for their policy impact and flow to a single General Fund. Expenditures should likewise be evaluated amongst all other expenditures. Ineffective or counterproductive activities should be eliminated instead of underfunded.

What is your position on Proposal 2? -- Slavery Prohibition

Proposal 2 should pass. I am voting YES. This amendment clarifies the existing prohibition against slavery and indentured servitude. Deleting 62 words and only adding 12 words, the proposal shrinks the length of the Vermont Constitution by 50 words -- a rare feat that should be applauded. After all of the deletions and insertions, Article 1 of the Vermont Constitution would read:

Article 1. [All persons born free; their natural rights; slavery and indentured servitude prohibited]

That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; therefore slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited.

I wonder how the change will affect children and prisoners.

What is your position on Proposal 5 (Article 22)? -- Reproductive Liberty

Proposal 5 should pass. I am voting YES. Abortion decisions should be made by the person who is pregnant. Pete Buttigieg provides an excellent explanation of how to think about abortion. The Vermont Constitution would be amended to include:

Article 22. [Personal reproductive liberty]

That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.

The proposal is an improvement from the original and the first effort to eliminate all reference to slavery but still seems a bit wordy for the shortest constitution in the U.S. I wonder about the compelling state interest exception, "unless..." To me, it feels out of place. Presumably, smart lawyers wanted to include it. If it becomes a problem, it can be removed later. Vermont State Archives & Records Administration (VSARA) maintains an interesting list of proposals.

What are the three most important issues or challenges going forward and how would you address them?

This question is frequently asked by reporters. I suppose that it makes sense if you are trying to cram some words into a few column-inches. Today, bits are too cheap to meter. I don't think this should be reporters' favorite question. I mean, would you really understand the full potential of pizza if you were only ever sold a cheese slice or two?

One of the planks of this campaign is to alter the clichéd rhetoric of Vermont politics. It's important to not reduce or oversimplify a complex or complicated problem. Yet there are simple solutions for overlapping or complex problems. Computer scientists work with complicated challenges every day. I would use that training to look for simple, comprehensive solutions to seemingly isolated problems. Living wage, grade 13, and parent stipends have good potential to resolve multiple issues now, not in ten years.

The PeterForVermont.Earth campaign looks for underlying problems and connections. One example: our consumption connects many ‘crises’ and the war in Ukraine. Every time Vermonters fill up a tank (car, home, or farm), our demand for oil increases its price, affecting all global commodities and increasing inflation. That puts money in Putin’s pocket. Through coordinated conservation, we could reduce fuel use while doing less to prop up Russia. We did it before and can do it again. I would lead the state government to make that effort – right now.

These aren't issues (around which false battle lines are often drawn), but they are principles: I am running on (1) an ecology platform with (2) Nordic model economics and (3) progressive social policy.

What would you do about the "lack of childcare" or the "childcare crisis?"

I put these words in quotes because I've received so many email messages that use the same expressions and words. Kids are the future of humanity. They and their parents deserve the best support that Vermont can muster. But I think this is an ill-posed question. "Lack of..." is the signature of a solution masquerading as a problem. It presumes that more childcare is important and necessary.

I have received a lot of correspondence about childcare, much of it characterizing the childcare system as being "broken." Is more broken childcare better? Even if it is, how could it be increased quickly? I have another idea that could be implemented immediately: a universal parent stipend. Regardless of how much childcare is involved, parents have the greatest contact with children, the greatest influence in their lives, and the greatest interest in their success. If we asked infants whether they would like to spend more time with parents or at a childcare center, what would they choose? Providing more support to parents (money, education, and services) seems like a no-brainer.

And, as we've seen with the pandemic, the government can get money flowing toward children's parents quickly. There are too many benefits of parent-child bonding to list here. The State should do everything possible to make a child's first experience as good as possible. My blog post, Ensuring a good start, looks at the parent stipend and universal pre-K in more depth. A livable minimum wage would help childcare workers and everyone else. On the older side of childcare, I would look to extend school days and schedules, among other things.

What would you do about the "climate crisis?"

Global warming is just one aspect of human civilization's global impact. The list of things that are going wrong is long: sea level rise, coral bleaching and deceleration of ocean currents; microplastics, PFAS, and pollution from other novel entities; overharvesting, overfishing, ecosystem collapse, and species extinction; climate-amplified heat waves, windstorms, precipitation events, drought, and even cold snaps. I am sure that some things are missing from the list. Greta Thunberg's September 23, 2019, speech sums up the situation succinctly. IPCC provides mostly central tendencies of modeled projections, and we know that they understate the problem by ignoring tipping points and reinforcing feedbacks. There is only one biosphere. There are too many people, consuming too many resources and causing too much damage. Our global economy operates without awareness of the limits to growth.

Red Team and Blue Team offer the same doomed response: green growth, orchestrated by complicated schemes that tend to shift impact rather than eliminate it. For the past several decades, we have been hammered with the notion that we can continue to consume more if done with "efficiency." Jevons Paradox (and Khazzoom–Brookes postulate) ensures that this will fail. The emphasis on electrification is an even slower policy response that adds to consumption with more vehicles, more infrastructure, and more stuff. Electric cars are still cars.

An emergency response that cuts demand through conservation is required. It is also the appropriate response to the war in Ukraine. We indirectly pay Russia to fight its war, made profitable through our demand for oil. Conservation in Vermont supports Europe and undermines Russian profits. The main elements of conservation: State organized and incentivized real-time ridesharing (not ride-hailing), incentivized motor vehicle fleet reduction (cutting the fleet in half would save Vermonters more than $1b/yr in vehicle depreciation alone), automated speed enforcement and highway speed limit reduction. In addition, we can reduce the amount of conditioned building space and reduce indoor air temperature. We know that Vermonters can achieve these conservation measures because they have done it before. And we know that it must be. There's a war on, and we have but one planet. Conservation addresses both problems simultaneously.

"Crisis?" What "crisis?" Why the quotation marks?

I put "crisis" in quotations frequently because it has become an overused word, used by overwrought politicians to suggest that they urgently care about something, have isolated it, and have a solution -- maybe. There are too many of these: opioid crisis, climate crisis, water crisis, debt crisis, demographic crisis, education crisis, etc. Overuse dilutes meaning and diverts attention. A thesaurus could help resolve this language crisis.

"Crisis" is a result of how we think about things -- or ignore things.

What would I do about it? Less word hurling, more thinking.

Collins Dictionary offers a long list of "word partners" under Political Crisis, demonstrating its abuse:

address a crisis

avert a crisis

banking crisis

cause a crisis

crisis deepens

crisis intensifies

crisis looms

crisis mode

crisis of legitimacy

crisis proportions

crisis resolution

crisis response

crisis situation

crisis stems from

crisis threatens

crisis unfolds

currency crisis

current crisis

deep crisis

deepening crisis

defuse a crisis

diplomatic crisis

discuss the crisis

domestic crisis

ease the crisis

ecological crisis

economic crisis

emerging crisis

end a crisis

environmental crisis

exacerbate a crisis

existential crisis

experience a crisis

face a crisis

financial crisis

fiscal crisis

foreclosure crisis

full-blown crisis

funding crisis

global crisis

handle a crisis

health crisis

hostage crisis

housing crisis

humanitarian crisis

immediate crisis

immigration crisis

impending crisis

international crisis

leadership crisis

liquidity crisis

loan crisis

looming crisis

major crisis

migrant crisis

moral crisis

nuclear crisis

oil crisis

ongoing crisis

overcome a crisis

political crisis

potential crisis

precipitate a crisis

present crisis

prevent a crisis

provoke a crisis

refugee crisis

resolve a crisis

serious crisis

severe crisis

shortage crisis

solve a crisis

spark a crisis

spiritual crisis

succession crisis

suffer a crisis

survive a crisis

tackle a crisis

terrible crisis

trigger a crisis

unemployment crisis

unprecedented crisis

weather a crisis

worldwide crisis

worsen the crisis

What policies would you pursue to promote social and racial justice in our state?

This question was asked by the League of Women Voters. The short version is available at their voter guide, Vote411.org.

Short Answer

Problems in transportation, housing, and government operation affect everyone, especially visible minorities and indigenous groups. Everyone benefits when we address systemic racism.

Transportation: Traffic is an environmental justice problem while traffic stops are ineffective and dangerous. Automation and road redesign would reduce vehicle damage, traffic casualties, and pollution, with significant fuel and cost savings.

Housing: It’s tempting to say “upzone” to increase density, but zoning created the problem. Decoupling development rights from land may be the way forward.

Government Operations: Bureaucracy can frustrate anyone, but it is worse for those of us without resources.

Problems in transportation, housing, and government operation affect everyone, especially visible minorities and indigenous groups. Everyone benefits when we address systemic racism.

Extended Answer


Traffic is an environmental justice problem, while traffic stops are ineffective and dangerous.

We know that speed kills and traffic is an environmental justice problem. We also know that police speed enforcement is ineffective while disproportionately putting police and the public at risk. Updating traffic management to slow motor vehicles would improve pedestrian safety and relieve the police of traffic duties. Automation and road redesign would reduce vehicle damage, traffic casualties, and pollution, with significant fuel and cost savings.

Some examples of fast actions that can be taken:

(1) Automate traffic enforcement (speed cameras, weigh-in-motion, etc.)

(2) Reduce limited access highway speeds to 55mph, strictly enforced (transit speed unlimited; real-time rideshares can probably also be allowed a higher limit).

(3) Lower speeds to 30 kph/20mph in designated downtown/village districts, known as “Tempo 30” in some places.

We know traffic signals are killers (and waste energy and equipment). Therefore:

(4) Convert signal-controlled intersections to modern roundabouts (Vermont can do this quickly with temporary modifications at many intersections).


High housing costs, NIMBYism, and bias against multifamily housing are integral to systemic racism. It’s tempting to say “upzone” to increase building density and presumably make more housing available. But zoning created the problem, and where is the evidence that more bad zoning will improve the situation. Vermont’s history of constrained zoning has made zoning changes a matter of financial gifts & takings worsened by inefficient, prescribed land use.

Decoupling development rights from land may be the way forward. Development rights could be fairly and permanently separated from the land. Once development rights are available for use wherever appropriate, environmental performance will increase. The process becomes: “this is what we would like to build here, and we already know how much we will spend (or earn) at the development rights bank to build it,” instead of “this is what we must build to pay back the land-use gamble by soaking up all of the zoning potential on this parcel.”

It’s a big move, but so was Act 250. Deane Davis never implemented the state land use plan. It’s late, but it’s never too late to finish the job, and with the benefit of history, it can be a job well done. I support policies to:

(1) Explore a statewide development rights bank that would facilitate infrastructure consolidation and retreat from wilderness while enabling effective, car-free, compact settlement;

(2) Eliminate the development review board approach to interpreting local regulation;

(3) Expand inclusionary zoning and shared appreciation, familiar strategies that can be implemented statewide as part of statewide building codes;

(4) Further standardize zoning definitions and language. Shrink, simplify, and clarify the scope of regulations; and,

(5) Standardize compliance presumptions, with a regular process for updating presumptions.

(6) End the subminimum tip wage.

Cost, adequate standard of living, durability, and #realzero are issues that need to be addressed.

What would you do to support a vibrant economy in our state?

This question was asked by the League of Women Voters. The short version is available at their voter guide, Vote411.org.

Short Answer

I would observe Vermont's policy to use the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) to describe the state of the economy. (Act 113 of 2012)

Our economy exists within – and depends upon – its ecosystem. Therefore, attention first goes to planetary boundaries and the urgent need to return half of Vermont to wilderness, consolidating infrastructure and services for a more efficient and effective economy. The ‘Nordic Model’ of capitalism and universal services, and steady-state economics would guide my planning and decision-making.

End dithering, add two years to the existing education system, preK-13, while expanding on existing alternative pathways – ensure equitable opportunity in education. See FAQ: "What would you do about the 'lack of childcare' or the 'childcare crisis?'"

What is the connection between war in Ukraine, inflation, and climate?

In our globally interconnected economy, oil is everywhere and in everything. Look around, do you see anything not made with oil? That stack of wood was cut, split, and transported with oil -- even if you just used an axe and carried the wood all of the way from stump to stack. We eat and drink oil. We wash with it. We are made of oil. When the price of oil goes up, the price of everything rises with inflation.

And oil is a global commodity with a global price. When we buy oil, we contribute to the global demand, which raises the global price.

Russia is an oil exporter. When the price of oil rises, Russia profits. Our oil consumption helps fund the Russian war effort.

Combustion of oil releases greenhouse gases. Industrial and agricultural processes release greenhouse gases from oil consumption. Every part of our economy involves some greenhouse gas emissions from oil. Vermonters' oil consumption heats the planet.

When we use oil, we help fund the Russian side of the war while accelerating inflation and worsening global warming.

What is your bold idea?

Scott -- not Phil Scott -- asked me this question recently.

It's not that bold. Everything that is needed already exists in the state. It's just looking at the facts and saying it's time to act. But it is a big idea -- on the order of $1b/yr. (For scale only, it's about 3% of Vermont's GDP, a measure which is deprecated in Vermont; see FAQ: "What would you do to support a vibrant economy?" )

The short answer:

Real-Time Ridesharing, which is not Uber. It's instant carpool matching using existing smartphones and automobiles. These are not taxi rides; the cars involved are already going one-way, in the direction of the carpool. There is no empty backhaul with Real-Time Ridesharing. see Blog: "Real-Time Ridesharing"

The long answer:

This is an energy conservation measure that addresses the war in Ukraine, inflation, and greenhouse gas emissions all at once. State support and a firm goal of reducing vehicle kilometers/miles traveled (VKT) by half, and reducing the private vehicle fleet by half, ensure that measurable performance objectives are met. The key is to do it quickly and broadly and press on, adjusting the implementation until the objectives are achieved. This is not an incremental opportunity; network effects are involved; the broader the participation, the better the performance. The initial goal of reducing VKT will leave a considerable portion of the private fleet unused and even more underutilized than it already is.

Big savings occur when the fleet shrinks. Current annual depreciation is well over $ 2 billion. Cut the fleet in half to save about $1b/yr. It's a simple model and simple math, easy to understand. There is a first-mover advantage in ridding Vermont of what will soon be obsolete technology.

When half of the cars disappear, traffic congestion evaporates, fuel consumption drops, gas stations in downtowns and villages can be converted to other land uses, parking minimums become even less rational, and parking lots can shrink even faster. The possibilities for restoring compact settlements and conviviality become more apparent.

Other things need to happen with land use and transportation, but eliminating single-occupant vehicle trips and shrinking the car fleet is an opportunity for billions of dollars in cost reductions. For folks concerned about a vibrant economy, the cost of living, or Vermont's environment, it is a clear win, win, win.

What are the most important challenges facing our state, and how do you propose to address them?

This question was asked by the League of Women Voters. The short version is available at their voter guide, Vote411.org.

Short Answer

Vermont is dependent on its natural environment for myth, brand, and economy. Elements include sugaring, reliable snow, winter sports, fall foliage, and temperate summers. We depend on a Holocene climate and stable ecosystems.

Already, greenhouse gas emissions should be negative, and a retreat from wilderness should be underway to address biodiversity loss, carbon sequestration, and more. The ecological problem must be seen as a whole. Short-term, I would focus on food self-sufficiency and energy conservation – organized and substantial – addressing inflation, the war in Ukraine, and climate. Long-term, our way of living must be examined.

What Vermont traditions do we need to preserve in the Green Mountain State?

This question was asked by the Brattleboro Reformer. The short answer was published in the Reformer's election guide.

Short Answer

Open primary voting is a Vermont tradition that needs exercise to be meaningful. With open primaries, the PeterForVermont.Earth fusion campaign seeks write-in votes – “Peter Duval” for Governor – on all primary ballots. And for voters who care most about our environment, writing in “Peter Duval” for Governor on the Progressive Party ballot is an effective vote to keep Earth front and center in Vermont politics.

Vermont’s billboard ban is another tradition that needs to be refreshed. I pledge to never, ever print lawn signs, which are distracting roadside blight. Even though the Secretary of Transportation regularly warns them, it seems like every candidate illegally places signs along our roads. When politicians break the law, it sets an example for the rest of us. I would work to restore respect for Vermont’s Sign Law. [10VSA495(d)]

Half of the Earth, including half of Vermont, needs to be restored to wilderness. I didn’t decide that; smart people who know ecosystems — like E.O. Wilson — determined that. Everyone who visits the west coast of Vermont looks across Lake Champlain at one of the best examples of wilderness restoration on the planet, Adirondack Park. It would be my job to make that happen in Vermont. Fortunately, that is also the way toward a sustainable, steady economy as we prune uneconomical infrastructure. And it would help restore Vermonters’ liberty to roam on foot, termed ‘hunt and fowl’ in Vermont’s 1777 constitution, a tradition that predates settlement and reflects Vermonters’ understanding of the importance of the natural environment.

Of all the Vermont traditions, progress toward ‘inhabitant’ suffrage may be the most important. So, become an informed voter and, on August 9 and November 8, wield that power. Vote!

Extended Answer

2-year terms for state-level offices is a tried and true process that shortens campaigns. It provides for the complete dissolution and reconstitution of the government. Routine inspection of a candidate's record is more deliberate and less disruptive than long terms, which invite recall elections that undermine democracy.

Many Vermont traditions contribute to our Vermont myth, which is an outdoor, place-based brand -- nationally and globally: compact settlements surrounded by open (not enclosed) land; town meetings; skiing (alpine, Nordic) and snowboarding; vacationing in Vermont; leaf-peeping; sugaring. A hot climate will damage or destroy many of these traditions. To maintain the traditions, Earth's climate needs to be restored to Holocene conditions. We should not accept a lesser goal.

If there are traditions worth keeping, then there must be traditions that should be abandoned. And there are probably some things that are not traditions but, because "tradition" is a potent shield, some people may present them as traditions. Single-occupant vehicles are ubiquitous in Vermont but are they a tradition? Hunting may be a tradition that's ready for transformation or obsolescence.