“I DON’T THINK VERMONTERS UNDERSTAND THE MACK TRUCK THAT COMING AT THEM… THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THIS IS GOING TO IMPACT THEIR LIVES AND WHAT IT’S GOING TO COST.”
– June Tierney, Public Service Department Commissioner and Climate Council member
In 2020, the Vermont legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) (Act 153) over the veto of Governor Phil Scott. The basic crux of the law mandates that Vermont must lower its greenhouse gas emissions to 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80% below by 2050. The GWSA created the Vermont Climate Council, a 23 member board, to come up with a plan to do this and present it to the legislature by December 2021. If, moving forward, Vermont fails to meet these mandates, or fails to follow the recommendations of the Council, the GWSA grants legal standing to anyone, citizen or not, to sue the state and claim attorneys’ fees at Vermont taxpayers expense.
To see how your legislators voted on key issues related to the GWSA click on the links below:
KEY ELEMENTS OF THE CLIMATE ACTION PLAN
In order to meet the mandates laid out by the GWSA, the Climate Council has put forward a basket of proposals, some of which can be implemented via rule through the existing authority of the Agency of Natural Resources, and some of which require legislative approval and or changes in law. Some of the key elements in the Climate Action Plan include:
- Mandate that Vermont join the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI). TCI is a multi-state carbon tax scheme on gasoline and diesel designed to increase the cost of motor fuels by forcing dealers to purchase “credits” in order to sell these products. The cost of the credits would be passed along to drivers, and the number of credits available for purchase would shrink each year, driving up their cost and decreasing the overall supply of motor fuels. The first year cost of TCI to Vermont drivers is estimated at $20 million on top of existing taxes, and that number would increase annually.
- “Clean Heat Standard”. This is a state-only version of TCI for home heating fuel, mandating that wholesalers of heating oil, propane, natural gas, and kerosene purchase “credits” in order to sell their product to Vermonters. The cost of these credits will, of course, be passed along to consumers driving up the cost to heat our homes.
- Weatherize 90,000 Homes by 2030. There are a number of problems with this target. First is the cost, which could be in the billions. (One council member cited $10,000 per home, or just under $1 billion, and another cited a total estimate of $2 billion.) There is also the fact that the labor force and other necessary resources do not currently exist in Vermont at a scale that would make the timeframe for this mandate realistic.
- 42,000 EVs on the Road by 2025, 170,000 by 2030. Between now and 2025, 1 out of every 4 new vehicle purchases must be of an electric vehicle. As with the weatherization mandate, this runs into feasibility issues in regard to cost and supply chain. There are currently less than 5000 EVs registered in Vermont today, almost all of which involved some level of taxpayer funded subsidy. The subsidies necessary to increase the number of EV purchases by this degree would be in the multiple tens of millions. Moreover, even if 40,000 Vermonters could be coerced into buying EVs, the infrastructure (electricity generation, public charging stations, residential charging ability) to support them does not exist nor, again, does the money and labor force exist to build it within this timeframe. An additional unintended consequence of this policy would be decreased gas and diesel tax revenue flowing into the Transportation Fund, which goes to maintain our roads and bridges — another cost that will have to be made up by the taxpayer.
- Ban Fossil Fuels for Cooking & Heating. No more natural gas, heating oil, and propane for cooking (after 2030), or for water heating (after 2035) or home heating (after 2040). Property owners will be responsible for retrofitting their homes and businesses with electric options for these necessities, though the Council recommends some subsidies be available at taxpayer expense. This provision will be enforced through a “time of sale” provision, meaning that a property that is not in compliance with this mandate cannot be legally sold.
- Ban on Sale of New Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles by 2035.
- 50% Fewer Cow “Emissions” by 2030.
- 100% Renewable Energy Mandate by 2030. The plan also calls for ramping up existing regulations on electricity — requiring Vermont source 100% of our electricity as a state from renewable or carbon-free sources by 2030
- Clean Heat Standard
- Rental Registry/Mandates
- Contractor Regulations
- “Time of Sale” Provisions for Property Owners
- Feebates on High Mileage Vehicles.
UNINTENDED (OR NOT CARED ABOUT) CONSEQUENCES
- Thousands of Jobs Lost.
- Everything must be electrified. But heavily subsidized wind turbines and solar electricity farms will never generate enough to meet the demand. Whether our power grid can transmit that huge amount of electricity shipped in from somewhere else is extremely doubtful. Meanwhile, the utilities are forced to buy power from net metered solar panels at or near the retail cost of power, leaving other electricity consumers to pay the utility’s cost of poles, wires, maintenance, and profits.
IMPACT ON CLIMATE AND FUTURE WEATHER EVENTS.