Weathersfield – Anthony Roisman, a prominent environmental lawyer who had been serving as president of the Hanover Co-op board of directors, has been appointed chairman of the Vermont Public Service Board.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Thursday announced his pick to lead the PSB, a quasi-judicial body that regulates utility rates, service quality and the placement of energy infrastructure such as large-scale wind and solar projects.
“I’m just delighted,” Roisman said in a telephone interview from his Weathersfield home. “I consider this a very special opportunity. The administrative law, as it relates to energy and utilities in general, is an area in which I have practiced for a long time. The Public Service Board, in this state, has such a wealth of resources that increase the probabilities that we can make sound decisions that will be beneficial to the state of Vermont.”
Roisman will formally begin the role on June 12, replacing Jim Volz, a 2005 appointee of Gov. Jim Douglas who was reappointed by Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2011.
“Tony has been involved in administrative and legal proceedings involving energy facilities and energy issues for more than five decades, and I believe his experience will serve Vermont well as we navigate the transition to a cleaner and more affordable energy future that supports stronger economic growth and lower costs for families and employers,” Scott said in a Thursday news release announcing the appointment.
A 1960 graduate of Dartmouth College who later earned a law degree from Harvard Law School, Roisman has either overseen or been directly involved in some of the country’s most well-known environmental cases in the last century.
After serving as a senior staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, he headed the Hazardous Waste Section of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1979 to 1982, where he oversaw but, he said, did not directly participate in the Love Canal pollution case in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
As executive director of Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, from 1982 to 1987, he filed early legal briefs in a civil lawsuit for alleged injury from pollution in Woburn, Mass. – a case later detailed in the bestselling book A Civil Action.
Roisman also has served as an adjunct professor and research fellow at Dartmouth, and delivers frequent lectures for the American Law Institute, according to a release announcing his appointment.
In 2015, he was elected to the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society’s board of directors, of which he later became president.
Roisman said he was stepping down as Co-op president on Thursday. The board met Thursday evening and Bill Craig, of Thetford, was named the new Co-op president.
Earlier this year, Roisman, together with Norwich lawyer Geoffrey Vitt, secured a settlement on behalf of a Hanover family whose well was believed to have been polluted by Dartmouth’s former dump site for lab animals at Rennie Farm.
Scott, a first-term Republican who opposes wind energy development on Vermont’s ridgelines, recently told Vermont Public Radio that his next Public Service Board chairperson would share his aversion to turbines.
Roisman said on Thursday he planned to decide cases based on relevant laws and regulations and on the evidence presented to him.
“My personal opinion about whether I like industrial wind is not really anything that’s relevant to my job,” he said.
With Margaret Cheney, a former Democratic state representative from Norwich, Roisman will comprise an Upper Valley majority on the three-member board. The third member is Sarah Hofmann, an attorney who lives in Montpelier.
Roisman said he looked forward to conducting “very good, robust review(s)” of energy projects with the help of the Department of Public Service, Vermont utilities and an engaged public.
“That’s great,” he said of the resources available to him as chairman. “That couldn’t be better. That’s how the good decisions are made.”
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