By Guy Page
Gov. Phil Scott still opposes the carbon taxation scheme known as the Transportation and Climate Initiative. However, he conceded Tuesday that his opposition might not be enough to stop it. In fact, Vermont’s involvement may not even have to be approved by the Legislature.
The TCI is a 12-state plan to impose a fossil fuel assessment on Northeastern fuel dealers, who would then recover the cost from consumers at the pump. The hefty proceeds (estimated $20-40 million) would be handed over to state governments and spent on carbon emissions reduction programs such as electric car charging infrastructure, bikepaths, and public transportation.
Regional Response to the TCI has been tepid, even in the Blue States of New England. However, the TCI is being enthusiastically considered by the Vermont Climate Council, which was empowered by the Vermont Legislature’s Global Warming Solutions Act to reduce Vermont’s carbon footprint. The TCI is, in effect, carbon taxation without the Vermont Legislature having to go on record as voting for a carbon tax. At his press conference on Tuesday, Vermont Daily Chronicle asked Scott for an update.
VDC: Governor, the Transportation and Climate Initiative is getting a lot of support from the Vermont Climate Council. What is the Scott administration’s official position on the TCI? Will you accept or oppose the TCI mandate from the Climate Council and, presumably, the Legislature?
“I think I’ve been fairly clear on TCI,” Scott said. “I don’t think it works for Vermont. I don’t think it solves the problem in many respects, and I think it just wouldn’t have any net benefit to us financially or from an emissions standpoint. So I would be opposed to it, as I’ve said before.
“But part of the problem with the Climate Council is that I don’t know as we have a choice. That was part of my problem with how it was developed. If they impose this, then i don’t know what the recourse is, to be honest with you.”
“I thought it had to be approved by the Legislature,” Vermont Daily Chronicle said.
“I’m not sure that it does,” Scott responded. “That’s that was part of my issue – that it does not have to come back to the Legislature. They may take it up, they may decide to insert themselves, but the way the legislation was written they don’t have to come back and get approval from the legislature. That’s why I vetoed it.”