Commentary

Climate Council Crack Up

By Rob Roper 

In the spring of 2011, then Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law the bill that was supposed to set Vermont off leading the nation to a single payer healthcare system. The activists rejoiced, the politicians puffed their chests, the bean counters got to work. Then, in December 2014 the three-year adventure in denying reality came to an end. Shumlin was forced to admit the whole scheme was too expensive, too disruptive, and simply wouldn’t work.

So, never mind!

A similar scent of impending failure is beginning to seep out from the (virtual) chambers of the Vermont Climate Council.

The Vermont Climate Council, created under the Global Warming Solutions Act, is charged with coming up with a plan by this December to lower Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions to 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In terms of costs and scope of impact, this task makes single payer look miniscule by comparison. The Climate Plan will do nothing less than reshape our entire economy, radically alter the way we live and work, micromanage our landscape, how we travel, build – and be forced to renovate – our homes, and the list goes on. The taxes, fees, fines, and regulatory mandates necessary to make this happen will be staggering.

“I don’t think Vermonters understand the Mack truck that’s coming at them when you start matching up resources to priorities this plan is going to embody. I just don’t think they understand how this is going to impact their lives and what it’s going to cost.”

– June Tierney, Department of Public Service Commissioner

Speaking bluntly, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service and Council member June Tierney said about the proposals the Council is preparing to unleash: “I don’t think Vermonters understand the Mack truck that’s coming at them when you start matching up resources to priorities this plan is going to embody. I just don’t think they understand how this is going to impact their lives and what it’s going to cost.” When Vermonters do find out, they will not be pleased.

Ben Rose, a former two-term legislator from the late 1990s serving on the Rural Resilience and Adaptation Subcommittee, also seems to understand the backlash sure to come, “There are moments when there are things worth losing one’s seat over…. If what we come up with as our highest one or two priorities are things that legislators are told this is worth losing your seat over, that’s the most powerful work the Council can do.” Translation: this is a political suicide mission because this plan will not have popular support.

“There are moments when there are things worth losing one’s seat over…. If what we come up with as our highest one or two priorities are things that legislators are told this is worth losing your seat over, that’s the most powerful work the Council can do.”

– Climate Council member and former legislator Ben Rose

Kia Morris, another former legislator no longer facing the voters, who is working for the Council as an advisor, cheerily explained, “They [legislators] are going to get some nasty-grams from their constituency. And it will have much less to do with how many points did you bring down emissions, and a heck of a lot more with ‘what happened to these jobs?’” 

“These jobs” indeed. The Council admits that thousands of Vermonters directly employed by fossil fuel providers (gas stations, heating oil, propane and natural gas, suppliers, etc.) and indirectly employed in associated businesses such as mini-marts, and automotive maintenance will lose their jobs as a result of the GWSA. They do not account for job losses likely to occur due to the increased cost of doing business in Vermont compared to other states causing businesses to close up shop or leave Vermont.

Some reality seemed to be settling in on October 22 when representatives of the Council presented their “Clean Heat Standard” portion of the plan to the House Energy & Technology Committee. Council member Richard Cowart described it as “one of the most important proposals” that will be offered by the Council. Committee Chair Tim Briglin (D-Thetford) tepidly greeted the proposal with, “My first impression of this concept is that it’s a good one… [but] I’m looking around for a better one frankly.” A better one is not likely to materialize in the mere weeks left before the plan is due.

Deliberations are further complicated by the fact that Council efforts to reach out to the BIPOC community for buy-in through a “Just Transitions” subcommittee are falling flat. Subcommittee member Mona Tolba, who also sits on the Islamic Society of Vermont, was one of many who spoke out, “I have been attending six meetings now or more, and I did not see any outreach to our communities. I did not see one single translated document of any of your action plans. I don’t really know what your action plan is…. I’m trying to help my community understand, but I need to be able to understand myself first.” 

What all Vermonters need to understand is that if we don’t slam the brakes on this “Mack truck” coming at us, we’re all going to end up as roadkill. So, as we did with single payer, it’s time to say, that was an interesting exercise. Now, never mind!

— Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

Categories: Commentary

4 replies »

  1. I guess that some do see the bigger picture. Add too the facts as stated that whatever we do, or don’t do here in Vermont (already one of the greenest states) is not going to amount to a fart in a whirl wind, and you must come to the conclusion that the people pushing this think it appropriate that only result of this is that we the people are shooting ourselves in the foot for the sake of a little virtue signaling.

  2. AND, on top of all of the before mentioned, a few people are to be recipients of a huge pile of money. It is more about that (money) and control of the masses than anything else. Typical liberal concepts.

  3. We’ve spawned a legislative culture which pursues its own “better world agendas”, rather than represent consensus wishes of their constituents. We’ve allowed our votes to be treated as an endorsement of whatever revelation they’ve discovered without any thought as to whether we’ve been convinced. Haven’t we been through loops like this before? Our forbearers read scripture and decide we needed laws to make everyone go to church on Sunday. How’d that work out for us? We’re having a debate about carbon in the atmosphere and they’ve had an epiphany…found the TRUTH and decided we need to stop our lives, maybe cut back on exhaling? This is absurd overreach by presumptive self empowered elected officials. They need to hear from us about what they are doing vs what we want…else they will continue ruling us instead of representing us. They need to hear that legislating includes assessing laws impacts on us. They need to hear that repealing laws is perhaps more important than just adding more. Let’s send them our thoughts.

Leave a Reply