Commentary

More funding! More funding!

By John McClaughry

The Public Utility Commission, at the direction of the legislature, has “joined the chorus of voices seeking climate action”. Its all-fuels energy report takes note of the state’s ambitious carbon dioxide emission reduction goals, and almost screams what’s needed on every page: “More Funding!”. (February 2021)

In July 2019 the legislature instructed the Public Utility Commission to recommend what the legislature must do to adopt “a multi-pronged approach to address Vermont’s greenhouse gas reduction and weatherization goals.” The PUC has now delivered its report. It can be summarized in two words: “More Funding!”

“If Vermont is to make progress toward its energy and greenhouse gas emissions reductions goal and commitments, the State will need to identify appropriate, stable, and robust funding and program options outside the traditionally regulated sectors of electricity and natural gas.”

“A useful citizen response would be to tell Gov. Scott and their legislators to forget about jacking up motor fuel and heating oil costs to feed a bunch of clamoring special interests at the expense of everyone else trying to stay above water during the pandemic.”

– John McClaughry

Translation: “Let’s find something to tax, to bring in the robust tax dollars required to pay, and keep on paying, for the Green agenda. More Funding!”

In particular, the PUC wants a “Thermal Efficiency Benefit Charge” – more honestly described as a new state tax on heating oil, kerosene, and propane – to “provide funds for thermal efficiency programs that benefit the users of those fuels.” The report also wants to “gradually increase the [existing heating] fuel tax to benefit more low-income Vermonters.”

The PUC unsurprisingly recommends a new tax on motor fuel, to be imposed by the multi-state Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) to “achieve financial benefits for Vermont”. Those benefits would be subsidies to favored causes like electric vehicles, heat pumps, and always more home weatherization. They would be paid for with dollars collected from motor fuel users – workers, businesses, farms, schools, local governments, and the like – that are left over after the TCI organization pockets its administrative, reporting, enforcement, legal and allowance auction costs, and generous staff salaries.

Ordinary Vermonters will get from these tax increases “an investment that will leverage private capital, produce local jobs, boost the Vermont economy, and enhance the health and affordability of the state.” Oh, come on. Nobody is dull witted enough to swallow that.

Let’s look at the sequence of events here.

In 2018 the climate change movement failed to sell even an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature on enacting their carbon tax – the ESSEX Plan. They managed only to grab $120,000 to get a “decarbonization” study from a reputable national research institution, Resources For the Future.

The RFF report that arrived in January 2019 found that no imaginable level of carbon taxes would drive down CO2 emissions to Vermont’s targeted levels, and that economic welfare losses from a significant carbon tax would be offset only by imagined “climate benefits” accruing to the entire planet. That finding was a serious downer for the climate change movement.

So the movement united behind another taxpayer-financed study, undertaken by persons dependent upon the legislature who could be trusted to make a better case for “all fuels energy efficiency” based on a carbon tax, to raise “robust” revenues to spend on the long menu of green causes.

The legislature assigned the study to the PUC chaired by an ardent climate warrior, Anthony Z. Roisman. He was a key legal strategist for the New England Coalition Against Nuclear Pollution (i.e. “Shut Down Vermont Yankee!”), and even told the public two years ago that Vermont was facing a “Pearl Harbor moment” requiring a “wartime effort” to cope with the growing menace of climate change.

Created in 1886 to regulate railroad rates, the much-expanded role of the PUC is to strike a balance between protecting consumers against monopoly overcharges, and letting regulated companies earn enough on invested capital to continue as going businesses. But in the past ten years, the legislature has made the PUC into its own reliable, like-minded manager and think tank on energy and climate matters.

Thus when the legislature wants to force Vermonters to engage in an all-out war against the menace of climate change, covets millions of taxpayer dollars to finance the cornucopia of spending urged by the Environmental Action Network, and can’t muster a majority that dares to vote for the carbon taxes needed to finance that spending, it turns to the friendly PUC to provide the cover for the tax raising: More Funding!

That’s why this latest PUC report is so forthright about declaring that it “joins the chorus of voices seeking climate action.” The PUC is doing its part by announcing that Vermont can’t meet its ambitious carbon dioxide emissions reduction goals – made mandatory by the Global Warming Solutions Act passed last October over Gov. Scott’s veto – without More Funding!

A useful citizen response would be to tell Gov. Scott and their legislators to forget about jacking up motor fuel and heating oil costs to feed a bunch of clamoring special interests at the expense of everyone else trying to stay above water during the pandemic. Otherwise, this determined climate change advocacy machine is going to keep grinding on until one or another carbon tax scheme is hung around everyone’s neck.

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  1. This is a recent lecture given by William Happer, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Princeton University on CO2 and climate change.…

4 replies »

  1. With ALL the NEW TAXation Proposals, What happens when WE THE TAXPAYER run out of money to pay them???????????????

    • When you run out of money, you stop spending money. It doesn’t matter what the tax rates are. Fifty percent of nothing is nothing.

      The only option left to the government then is to take your property by transferring all State funding obligations to the existing Property Tax (as the public school monopoly does now), and likely expand it to include a Personal Property Tax on all of your assets (your refridgerator, your car, your lawn mower, your guns) – including the savings you have in the bank and the investments in your personal retirement accounts.

      If you don’t believe this, ask yourseves what you would do if your livelihood was exclusively derived from a source that required others to pay you. Would you say, hey, this is tyranny and I won’t accept another penny from those poor souls forced to pay me?

      Think again!!!!!!!!!!

  2. So well spoken,HJ.
    If only your comment would have
    been published in all of the various media in and around Vermont.
    Politicians in Vermont really have no clue and their ideology will eventually destroy this state.

    • Re: Politicians in Vermont really have no clue….

      Of course they do. It’s survival of the fittest.

      Re:… their ideology will eventually destroy this state.

      I’m afraid not. They will simply sell what they’ve taken from you to some other fool.

      It’s yet another example of the proverbial ‘debt-trap’. The more debt one assumes, the more leverage the lender has over the debtor.

      A government monopoly (pick one – our so-called public education system, for example) entices a family to move to Vermont (paying them a $5000 stipend to relocate here). The family rents an apartment or borrows money to buy a house. As the rents or mortgage payments increase (because the cost of education increases), the family not only struggles to keep up, their children don’t learn anything. The family becomes more and more dysfunctional. For a while, the family struggles to pay their debts (thereby funding, to the extent possible, the education monopoly’s operating expenses), until the family just wears out, goes bankrupt, and loses everything to their creditors (in this case, the government cronies who foreclose on the property tax sale at pennies on the dollar). The creditors then take those assets and sell them to the next naïve family coming down the I91 or I89 corridor.

      Another metaphor is the infamous Twilight Zone show – ‘How to Serve Man’. Aliens from space arrive and, to prove their benevolence, give earthlings a manual entitled How To Serve Man. The first half of the manual teaches earthlings all sorts of technology designed to make their lives easier. Unfortunately, to late, its discovered that the last half of the manual, How To Serve Man, are recipes. It’s a cookbook.

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