In The News

July 2, 2024

Town Meeting TV -- Governor Candidate Forum with Bobby Lussier

Town Meeting TV -- Governor Candidate Forum, July 2, 2024 

Incumbent advantage, tax policy, emergency shelter. Here is a chapter list of the half-hour program:

00:00:00 Introductions

 00:01:29 Opening Statement

 00:03:56 Incumbent Advantage

 00:06:10 Property Taxes & Education

 00:09:14 Progressive Tax Initiatives

 00:12:25 Housing Investment

 00:15:07 Emergency Shelter

 00:18:42 Overdose Crisis

 00:21:54 Criminal Justice

 00:24:05 Climate Change

 00:28:10 Lightning Round

 00:30:52 Closing Comments

July X, 2024

VT Digger Candidate Survey

VT Digger Voter Guide (link when published)

Here are my answers to VT Digger's Candidate Survey:

Please provide a brief bio.

I grew up in Essex, Vermont. I studied Physics at McGill University and Computer Science at UVM, completing a BS and MS in Computer Science with a teaching fellowship and a focus on complex systems and evolutionary computation. Along the way, I helped Colchester voters reject the Circumferential Highway and helped the Vermont Electric Co-Op board realize they needed to reject the Hydro-Québec/Vermont Joint Owners power contract. I was the founding president of the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition.

I run, hike, sail, Nordic ski, and have toured several countries by bicycle. I hiked the Long Trail as part of a three-generation effort. I am a coach and instructor.

Interesting places at remarkable times: I have been to Iqaluit in the middle of winter, the Soviet Union in the lead-up to the August Coup, Cuba in the depths of the Special Period, and Bahrain during the Bahraini Uprising. I lived in Japan for two years, including through the 3/11 triple disaster — coincidentally visiting the Kobe Disaster Reduction Institute just a few days prior. There is a lot to learn from traveling and living outside of Vermont.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for governor because the Red and Blue teams are not getting the job done. I am running so that ecologists and other voters who care about our planet — the only habitable planet in the known universe — have a choice on the ballot.

Vermont has fallen behind in meeting weak climate goals set decades ago. Since then, the ecological problem has worsened dramatically. Yet Vermont dithers with elaborate technology substitution programs that are too little, too late and disregards known issues such as Jevons Paradox. Vermont politicians seem to have made a pact to deliberately ignore a large portion of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mainly from biomass energy. Lifecycle (impact across time) and Scope 3 (supply chain) emissions analyses are inevitable. It is shortsighted to ignore these aspects of GHG tracking to create a temporary illusion of progress. It’s a failure to prudently anticipate future regulation.

Meanwhile, sprawl continues to eat up Vermont's open space—farmland and forest that would be much easier to preserve than restore.

The Red and Blue teams play ping-pong for political power using the same rhetoric: climate crisis, housing crisis, demographic crisis, etc. Both teams have lost track of the ball and are comfortable with status-quo duopoly politics. Vermont needs to break out of that political game and echo chamber to develop new perspectives about its problems and opportunities. I am running to change the language, ideas, and framing of political debate.

Short Answers

Do you believe Vermonters are better off now than they were 10 years ago?

Vermonters may be better off or worse off, depending on which Vermont is considered. As a whole, we are worse off because another decade has been lost while failing to respond locally to the global ecological problem.

Do you believe Vermont needs a new education funding formula?

An overhaul and simplification of all state revenue is in order.  See “What changes, if any, would you make to the way Vermont funds its schools?” below.

Do you support imposing new taxes on the wealthiest Vermonters?

On this question, the 1950s really were the Happy Days of sensible income tax rates and less income inequality. But we need to do more than fiddle with rates. I think Barbara Snelling once called for a comprehensive overhaul of taxation. We do need to do that because taxes have policy effects. See “What changes, if any, would you make to the way Vermont funds its schools?” below.

Do you support the establishment of overdose prevention centers?

The main problem with overdose prevention centers is that they only nibble at the issue of dangerous, illegal supply. They fail to address — and may even support — the illegal market, which must be crushed to eliminate the money interest in creating new drug dependency. For existing (possibly registered) drug users, the safer supply approach, with prescription by physicians and fulfillment by pharmacists — is needed to eliminate illegal market demand. Of course, instant access to long-term residential treatment is also required.

Do you support a ban on flavored tobacco products?

Smoking and vaping are harmful and expensive activities. The state should do everything it can to reduce tobacco use. Revenue loss is a despicable excuse for continuing to allow the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Do you support increasing penalties for property crimes such as shoplifting?

Penalties already exist; they are not enforced.

Do you believe Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election?

In a democratic republic, it's not about winning but conceding and losing gracefully. Losing candidates must stop whining and accept their defeat. Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. If there was an election tainted by improper influence, it was the 2016 election.

Long Answers

What would you do to help grow Vermont's economy?

I would observe Vermont's statutory 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, our attention must first go to living within the planet's carrying capacity and planetary boundaries and addressing the urgent need to return half of Vermont to wilderness.  

Infrastructure consolidation would be a big step toward strong towns and a more effective economy.  Steady-state economics and the ‘Nordic Model’ of capitalism with universal services would guide my planning and decision-making.  

I would consider adding two years to the default pathway in the existing education system, preK-13, while expanding on flexible pathways (Act 77 of 2013) to ensure greater educational equity and opportunity. A vibrant democratic republic and ecological economy depend on a well-educated citizenry.

What changes, if any, would you make to the way Vermont funds its schools?

All state money is fungible, so let’s end gambling promotion and the education branding of state-sponsored gambling. As with tobacco, tax receipts do not justify encouraging activities detrimental to Vermonters’ well-being.

Current education taxation achieves what was intended: leveling education funding while spreading the costs around. It’s awkwardly implemented, but most Vermont residents are taxed on income. Would Vermont residents prefer to eliminate income sensitivity so high-income and second-home owners can pay less? I recall that there was a proposal to remove the threshold for income sensitivity. Whether the income sensitivity rate is flat or progressive, I would explore and probably support eliminating the threshold.

I would like to see an effort to automate education property tax bills. More effort should also be put into informing Vermonters about income sensitivity. And we should feel satisfaction — even pride — in paying taxes when we can afford to.

A good feature of education funding is that it is based on a consistently applied formula — something constantly threatened by ad hoc legislation. I have thoughts about current use versus fair market value appraisal, but those are larger issues that a comprehensive review of state revenues and tax expenditures could address. Eliminating “funds” would be a good objective. I would support creating a single, consolidated revenue stream that is adjusted proportionally to meet the demands of the state budget.

Is Vermont doing enough, too much, or not enough to address climate change? Please explain.

It's not enough and not in the right direction. Policy efforts have been incremental and retrospective, with legislation such as the Global Warming Solutions Act specifying “reductions” from past GHG emissions.

That habit of looking in the rearview mirror must be replaced by an acceptance that a climate-safe future will not be a modified version of the recent past. Vermont must establish a forward policy direction that is genuinely zero-emission and carbon-dioxide-removing while focusing on restoring half of Vermont to wilderness. Our future economy must fit within all known and emerging planetary boundaries. The elimination of greenhouse gas emissions should have happened yesterday, not in 2050. This is not a drill; it is an actual emergency. We must ‘just do it’ and do it right now.

Vermonters want an effective response to the ecological problem. Hesitant implementation, recalcitrance, greenwashing, and finger-pointing have inhibited the change that Vermonters and Vermont legislators expect.

To get to a different future, some Vermonters will need to demonstrate that future so that other Vermonters will realize that they want it, too. It will be like going to the Moon or Mars instead of marching up Mount Mansfield. The shift would not be incremental but more like moving to a new world. We’ve done big things before; we can do it again. Think sheep boom and smartphones and pandemic response.

Is Vermont doing enough, too much, or not enough to regulate gun ownership? Please explain.

I don’t understand the need for anyone to have a semi-automatic gun. If someone misses on the first shot, are more bullets, shot faster, going to make them a better hunter or marksman?

The US Constitution's Second Amendment, as currently interpreted, makes it difficult to regulate firearms strongly. But I keep wondering about the application of originalism to firearms. The guns that were available during the American Revolution were nothing like the straight-shooting, rapid-fire guns that exist today.

What would you do to help ease Vermont's housing crisis?

Housing is an industry. “Lack of…” is a tell-tale sign of a solution in search of a problem. There have been some poorly supported claims (“Act 250” and “Airbnb”) about the causes of the “crisis,” Are Vermonters being hustled? I would like a precise consensus on what " housing " means and a deeper analysis of available information. Would a bump in nonresidential property tax rates shift more units from vacation to residential use? If so, that would be an effective, rapid policy response.

Most housing development is small-scale and not affected by Act 250. Casually observed in Underhill: at least 9 units of what would have been affordable type (apartments and accessory dwelling units) housing units have not been built — at existing structures — because of local government decisions. The same has been true in Jericho. The rise of Development Review Boards (DRBs) coincides with the onset of the housing crisis. Vermonters should look carefully at the local review process. DRBs were supposed to separate planning from zoning and regularize the project review process. Success? NIMBYs and BANANAs hide out on local DRBs. I would consider placing all zoning review with the District Environmental Commission for consistent handling and smooth transition to Act 250 review for larger projects. As a side effect, local planning commissions may be incentivized to write concise and straightforward town plans and zoning ordinances. All towns could be required to undertake critical area analysis (not necessarily relating to Act 59 of 2023) and produce an official map (24 V.S.A. § 4421). There’s more.

How would you address the rising homeless in Vermont? 

‘Home’ and ‘Housing’ share the same thesaurus entry but are not equivalent. Housing is not part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; shelter is. Shelter can be many things, such as a bivouac sack, an igloo, a moveable yurt, or a mansion.

Camping should be considered an indicator of housing need, but also always an available option. Camping may be a necessary response to disaster; why not prepare for disaster?

Sleep is more fundamental than shelter and should be considered an essential liberty, health promotion, and disease prevention. Sleeping outside may be preferable to other options.  The state should do everything it can to ensure that Vermonters can sleep in a clean, quiet place whenever needed.

Quality sleep, good nutrition, and meaningful activity (not paperwork) are necessary for health and effective participation in our culture, economy, and democratic republic. Learning to design and build shelter by doing is a meaningful activity that would address demand. I would explore any opportunity to create a pod and tiny house production system that engages people experiencing homelessness. 

Homeless Vermonters may be ready to explore the zero-emission, ultra-low-impact ecological economy we need. Planning, development, and funding could aim at that future through design competitions for places of sleep, work, and play.

What would you do to increase access to health care services for Vermonters?

Making Vermont the best place to be a family doctor would be a good start. Does this mean more money, better working conditions, healthier patients, patients with the enthusiasm and discipline necessary to follow medical advice, or something else?

When people say “health care,” they sometimes mean medical services. This may be a significant distinction. The difficulty of leading a healthy lifestyle is an emergent property of our economy; more money can be made from illness than health. 

Reducing demand for medical services could free up funds and allow better use of medical resources. Policy can promote healthy behaviors. Related to the tax overhaul, I want to take a comprehensive look at how state policy influences these behaviors.

If prevention is more cost-effective than other medical care, it should be pursued to reduce costs. Incrementally and universally adding proven health measures to Green Mountain Care would have benefits well beyond cost containment. 

Here’s a “three-prong” approach that doesn’t rely on a big-bang replacement of existing medical systems: 1) environmental health, 2) public health, and 3) universal preventive care. Possible action could include sugar tax, active transportation, local food production and nutrition benefits, improved working conditions, precautionary regulation of novel entities, organic agriculture, modified school sports rules, all-ages recreation clubs, proven highway safety countermeasures, indoor air quality improvements, state monopoly/monopsony of tobacco/liquor/cannabis/gambling, and universal shelter, nutrition, dental hygiene, vision, counseling, primary medical care.

June 25, 2024

Seven Days -- Primary Voters' Guide

Seven Days -- Primary Voters' Guide

The Voters' Guide is a big file. Here are my answers to the survey questions:

What is your occupation and most recent office held? (20 words or less)

Sailing instructor and substitute teacher. I was a Selectboard member in Underhill.

Why are you running for the Democratic Party nomination? (50 words or less)

The blue team and red team play political ping-pong over minor differences while claiming to address housing, climate, and “demographic crisis.”  I run to link such crises, offer an environmental perspective, and, as a fusion candidate, be a change agent. It’s a civic duty.

What are the most important issues facing Vermont today? (50 words or less)

False battle lines are often drawn around issues. I am running on principles of ecology, ecological and Nordic model economics, and progressive social policy.

Name 3 accomplishments that qualify you to address them (60 words or less)

(1) I successfully lobbied Vermont Electric Coop’s board to reject the VJO/Hydro-Québec contract.

(2) I helped Colchester voters realize that the Circumferential Highway — like ring roads everywhere — was a transportation failure by design.

(3) A lone voice on U46’s Facilities Committee, I helped U46 realize that Essex Tech Center should remain on the High School campus.

Briefly describe your approach to tax policy in Vermont. (50 words or less)

All money is fungible and taxes implement policy. Having "funds" for one thing or another and asking, "How are you going to pay for that?" piecemeal is silly. Vermont should overhaul its approach to taxation, resulting in a single taxation formula that is adjusted to meet the total expenses of each budget cycle.

September 27, 2022 

Seven Days -- Time to Choose: The 2022 Election Guide

The Seven Days 2022 Election Guide is a big (33MB) file and a bit difficult to find online. Here are my full answers to questions asked in the guide:

How will you help make childcare more accessible and affordable for working families? (50 words or less)

I received a lot of correspondence from providers about a broken system. Vermont should look at a universal stipend for parents, which would probably reduce demand for expensive, labor-intensive infant care while encouraging parent-child bonding. A livable minimum wage would help resolve low pay for early childhood education and improve working conditions and participation across the entire economy.

How will you help Vermonters cope with inflation? (50 words or less)

Inflation is driven largely by fossil fuel energy prices – functions of supply and demand. We don't have much influence on the supply of fossil fuels, but Vermonters can do something about demand. Vermont can organize conservation with a short workweek, real-time ridesharing, fleet reduction, infrastructure diet, and rethinking housing. 

Vermonters have been soaked with a message of "efficiency," but  Jevons Pardox (bonpote|NewYorker|Frontiers) shows us that efficiency tends to increase consumption. And if it doesn't increase consumption within a particular sector, it happens as substitute consumption elsewhere.  Conservation, not efficiency, cuts costs and emissions. Conservation can do this quickly, much quicker than efficiency efforts could hope. Whatever happens with prices, Vermonters win as conservation reduces expenses by reducing consumption.

What actions are you taking in your own life to reduce your carbon footprint? (50 words or less)

I minimize driving my Honda Gen 1 Insight, which -- more than two decades after its introduction -- is still the most efficient fossil-fueled car produced for the US market. With careful driving in good conditions, 75mpg or better fuel economy is commonly reported.   I have driven the car approximately 5000mi/yr since buying it in 2015.  I estimate that it emits about 0.8 metric tonnes of CO2equivalent emissions per year – That's 0.8 tonnes too much, and it is just accounting for the fuel burned in the car. There are other emissions that are not accounted for: fuel production and distribution, insurance, fees, tires, parking,  and of course, the manufacture of the vehicle, which is reported to have been about $60k total cost in 2000. When all of that is taken into consideration, it's clear that a car is a car no matter how far it can go on a gallon of gas. A car requires roads that require construction and maintenance; it crashes; it kills; it maims. Private cars are a social and environmental dead end. It will be much easier to abandon cars if Vermonters do it together and all at once.

An EnergyStar cool roof is installed on my home. It is a simple color variation that increases albedo and works to keep the roof cooler.  

Cool and cold zones reduce heating demand.  Like most homes, there is more than one thermostat in our house. Only one zone is occupied at any time, so the temperature in most of the house can be cool or cold. Turning down the thermostat has an immediate effect on fuel consumption, and it does not cost any money. I do some pushups and put on a sweater or hat if I am feeling cool.

A 12kW solar photovoltaic net meter system is in progress at our house. It took many years to arrive at the right system installed in the right place. As time passed, the size of the system tripled. There's room for system expansion.

I eat less meat and more beans than I used to. There's always an opportunity to improve diet.

Do you support the Vermont Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment? 


Why or why not? (20 words or less)

Article 22 enshrines an important right, one that exists in current state law (18 V.S.A. Ch. 223).  It also appears to create a state interest in pregnancy – perhaps something to correct later.

Seven Days 2022 Election Guide

September 21, 2022

Town Meeting TV -- Governor Candidate Forum with Mark Johnson

Town Meeting TV -- Governor Candidate Forum, September 21, 2022 

Election integrity, education finance, New Burlington High School and building codes, pollution and the global ecological problem were discussed. 

Next time, my answer to Hoyt is: I am confident in Vermont's election system. I am not here to defend others against your allegations of corruption. That's not a matter for political campaigns.

September 16, 2022

WDEV -- Tunbridge World's Fair, Interview with Lee Kittell

August 2, 2022

Brattleboro Reformer -- Elections 2022 | Candidate Profile: Peter Duval

This is the long version (561 words), written before the word limit was applied. I shaved it to 470 words, and then it was disassembled to a question by question format. Read the result at

Red & Blue teams play ping pong for political power using the same rhetoric:  ‘climate crisis’, ‘housing crisis’, ‘demographic crisis’, etc. And both teams lose the ball. It’s no surprise because Red & Blue chase the same swing voters, telling them whatever they want to hear. Vermont needs to break out of that echo chamber and think differently about its problems and opportunities. 

The PeterForVermont.Earth campaign addresses the issues by finding underlying problems and connections. For example, our consumption connects many of our ‘crises’ to the war in Ukraine. Every time Vermonters fill up a fuel tank (car, home, or farm), our demand for oil pushes up its price, affecting all global commodities. That puts money in Putin’s pocket. We could be doing less to prop up Russia’s war machine while improving our own situation in the process.  Through coordinated conservation, we can reduce fossil fuel use. I would lead the state government to make that effort, with every department helping Vermonters to conserve energy and resource, right now. We demonstrated, at the beginning of the pandemic, that we can make big changes. 

My policy and project experience in transportation, land use, and energy is good preparation for the necessary change as Vermont confronts simultaneous problems. Computer scientists deal with complicated and complex challenges every day, and that training means I will look for simple, comprehensive solutions to seemingly isolated problems; livable wage, grade 13, and parent stipend have good potential to resolve multiple issues now, not in ten years. 

As a sailor and househusband, I have encountered many potentially dangerous situations (perhaps someone falls off a boat at dusk). Navigating risks and rewards requires anticipating contingencies and adapting to the moment – solo, with kids, or with a crew. 

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, choosing to write-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 will begin by pledging to never, ever print lawn signs. They are haphazard visual blight and hazardous roadside distractions. It seems that every candidate illegally places signs in the road right of way, even though the Secretary of Transportation reminds them not to, early in every election cycle. [10VSA495(d)] I would work to restore respect for Vermont’s Sign Law. 

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 — decided 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. As a politician, it’s my job to make that happen in Vermont. Fortunately, that is also the way toward a sustainable, steady economy. And it would help reestablish Vermonters’ right 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, ‘inhabitant’ suffrage may be the most important. On August 9 and November 8, exercise that tradition. Vote! 

July 14, 2022

Town Meeting TV -- Republican Governor Primary Candidate Forum with Meghan O'Rourke

Town Meeting TV Republican Governor Primary Candidate Forum YouTube Live Stream, July 14, 2022. 

Fusion campaign, pensions, intergenerational equity, prop 2, prop 5, term lengths, professionalized legislature, war in Ukraine, conservation versus efficiency, global ecological problem, mega hydro and biomass, and the probability of running as an independent candidate in the general election are discussed. 

June 29, 2022

Seven Days -- Not All Heroes Wear Capes: The 2022 Primary Election Voters' Guide

The Seven Days Primary Election Guide is big (35 MB) and a bit difficult to find online.  Here are my full answers to questions asked in the guide:

What is your occupation and most recent office held?

Most recently, I am a househusband and sailing instructor, with a background in physics, computer science (UVM, BS and MS), energy project development, transportation and land-use advocacy. I was a Selectboard member in Underhill, and I held various appointed positions in Essex, Jericho, and Underhill.

Why are you running?

Political rhetoric in Vermont has converged. Blue team and red team politicians are playing a fierce ping-pong game over small differences and frequently just lose the ball… accomplishing nothing. They claim to be addressing the housing crisis, the climate crisis, and the so-called “demographic crisis”— among other crises. At best, they are pouring once-in-a-century money onto a business-as-usual fire. They are missing underlying patterns and problems that connect the many crisis symptoms. Red team and blue team are avoiding difficult issues. But we must identify and talk about those issues, and we need to do it right now — consumption is chief among them. Consumption links all of these crises and the war in Ukraine.

Vermont donated $1 per Vermonter to humanitarian aid for Ukraine, which was nice, but has Vermont done anything to reduce fuel consumption in this moment of war and high prices? Every time we consume petroleum, whether for motor vehicles, heating homes, making fertilizer — or making snow — we contribute to the global demand for fossil fuels. That demand drives up the price of oil and methane. It empties Vermonters’ pockets and it puts money in Putin’s pocket while funding the Russian war effort.

Let’s not forget that this is a food disaster and a refugee crisis, too.

We Vermonters could be doing a lot to cut back on consumption, and we should do that even if the only motivation is to have a more effective economy that is competitive with other states. But I think Vermonters have more noble motivations and want to do the right thing for Ukraine, for our kids and future generations, and for Earth’s fragile biosphere. It’s the only biosphere, and maybe we should call ourselves “planetary biofilm” as a reminder of exactly how tiny our habitable place in the universe is.

If I were governor right now, I would be working overtime to find ways for Vermont to organize Vermonters to conserve resources and grow food. We already did it at the beginning of the pandemic, with open streets, remote work, learning pods, and a shift toward outdoor recreation. We can do that again, smarter (for example, real-time electricity pricing and real-time carpooling) and more deliberately, drawing lessons on effective, low-energy ways of living from around the world.

I am running as a fusion candidate (, a Vermont tradition. Jim Douglas and David Zuckerman are two recent examples. Voters can write-in “Peter Duval” on any ballot for governor (and for any other office, BTW). Or, do double service to your state by choosing the Republican ballot and checking “Peter Duval” for governor, helping that party return to its Aiken/Davis/Snelling tradition.

Name 3 accomplishments that qualify you for the office you're seeking. (60 words or less)

(1) I successfully lobbied Vermont Electric Coop’s board to reject the Vermont Joint Owners contract with Hydro-Québec. As I recall, it was the only utility to make this decision without the public pressure of a membership vote or municipal election. And it was the only utility to grow larger, acquiring Citizens Utilities, which had made the mistake of participating in the contract.

(2) I helped Colchester voters realize that not only would the Circumferential Highway damage the Malletts Bay Area and its sandplain, but that it was a loser of a transportation project — like all ring roads. Colchester voters successfully terminated the project west of I-89, which was the death knell for the rest of the project. The last remnant of the 1950s freeway scheme, the Southern Connector (now renamed Champlain Parkway and Railyard Enterprise Project) is likewise counterproductive and should never be completed.

(3) As the minority voice on the Essex Junction Educational Center Facilities Committee, I convinced the board that the Technical Center should remain on campus with the High School. This allowed students full access to all classes, without having to ride buses between sites. This is a current issue for Burlington High School.

Name a Vermonter past or present who inspires you and tell us why. (50 words or less)

Ralph Flanders, because there are too many living Vermonters to name, and he was an engineer-politician with firm positions who brought forth the censure of Joe McCarthy.

June 13, 2022

WDEV -- Vermont Viewpoint Interview with Ric Cengeri