Benning: Clean Heat Standard wrong tool for the job

Sen. Joe Benning with wife Debbie and their Harley

by Sen. Joe Benning

For a very long time I’ve considered myself an environmentalist.  In elementary school I helped our school develop its first Earth Day program.  In high school I helped organize what we called “Walk for Mankind,” to draw attention to human impacts on the world.  In college we fought against the acid rain defoliation of our mountain forests caused by Midwest coal-fired energy plants.  As president of the Lyndonville Rotary Club I spearheaded the effort to clean up approximately five miles of the Passumpsic River.  That effort removed 32 tons of metal car parts, almost 500 tires and over 3,000 pounds of general trash- all taken to proper disposal/recycling facilities. 

Each effort required the use of proper tools to accomplish the task.  The river clean up alone required a crane, a bucket loader, hand tools and plenty of boats.  I spent many hours with snorkeling gear diving underwater to hook up a chain to numerous car and truck frames, likely deposited there initially to protect the river banks after the flood of 1927.  The right tools helped achieve the objective.  The wrong tools do not.  In fact, they sometimes result in bigger problems.

I should pause to note that I long ago accepted the fact that mankind’s use of fossil fuels is problematic.  Fifteen seconds with my nose close to the end of my motorcycle’s tailpipes with the engine running makes me sick.  Quickly.  Multiplied by the likely billions of running motor vehicles on the planet, it is not rocket science to understand that’s a heck of a lot of pollution thrown into the atmosphere.  We need to fix that.

But the tiny population of Vermont can’t fix anything unless it uses the right tools.  This essay deals with a wrong tool – the Global Warming Solutions Act and its progeny: the Clean Heat Standard bill recently vetoed by Governor Scott.    

The Global Warming Solutions Act took previous “goals” for lowering our carbon output and turned them into “mandates.”  No legislator (being honest) truly believed we would meet those mandates without draconian measures.  To avoid facing controversial proposals head on, a bureaucracy was created to make suggestions for carbon reduction, which insulated legislators from the direct wrath of Vermonters who’d be most impacted.  To nobody’s surprise, that bureaucracy suggested imposition of (in plain English) a heavy tax on fossil fuels.  Every Vermonter using an internal combustion engine and/or a heating system powered by fossil fuels would have to pay it.  The hope would be less consumption, and proponents could thus claim Vermont did something about climate change.

The sad part of this feel-good measure is that it can’t achieve the objective. If the total carbon output of Vermont’s miniscule population disappeared tomorrow, it would have virtually no scientifically registerable impact on climate change.  In exchange the only thing we’d accomplish would be to drive a substantial portion of our population into financial distress. That’s called using the wrong tool.  I’m not suggesting doing nothing.  With Vermont’s limited resources, we should be using those resources to weatherize every Vermont home to enable resilience.  Resilience and conservation are two proper tools when it comes to addressing climate change.

As a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor, I find it even sadder that all four of the Democratic candidates in this race recently took Governor Phil Scott to task for properly vetoing the Clean Heating Standard bill that would have imposed that heavy tax on fossil fuels.  Their unwillingness to consider the severe financial consequences caused by use of this improper tool is troubling.  Vermonters cannot give up heating their homes or traveling to work. I cannot condone the use of this improper tool- especially when its imposition on such a small population does virtually nothing to accomplish the objective.  We need to use our heads, as well as the proper tools, when it comes to addressing climate change.  The Global Warming Solutions Act is no solution.

The author is a senator for Caledonia County and a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

Categories: Commentary

4 replies »

  1. Thank you Senator Benning for your reasoned position on the “Clean Heat Standard” Yesterday afternoon (6/1/22) I had a young lady claiming to be conducting a survey on the behalf of VPIRG, come to my door wanting to engage me on the topic of Global Warming, Climate Change, and all things “Green”. Her first question was “how worried are you about “Global Warming?” I told her, “probably less than most”. She then asked me why ? I proceeded to tell her that making fossil fuels more expensive for the people of that State of Vermont, while mega polluters like China, and India are still planning on building more coal fired power plants, was the like urinating into the wind or shooting one’s self in the foot, and I don’t particularly like inflicting pain on myself, so someone else can take advantage of what I am denied . I don’t think she, or VPIRG are of the same mind as I am, as she did not continue to try to engage me at that point, and just suggested I check out the VPIRG web site, thanked me, and left. The fact of the matter is we already live in one of the most ecologically green states in our country, say nothing of the rest of the world, and if you took all 600,000 of we Vermonters, and exterminated us, it would not make a wits worth of difference in the climate change big picture. Bottom line it is my position that the eco-freakos should leave me (and others like me) alone, until a lot bigger part of the problem realizes that there is a problem, and when they start to catch up with us, then worry about staying ahead of the Jones’s. Bye the bye, the young lady stated that she was a Rhode Island resident, going to UVM, and was on summer break. I wanted to ask her if she didn’t think her time might be better spent convincing the residents of her own state that they should bite the same bullet she was asking Vermonters to bite, but discretion being the better part of valor…

    • This is exactly what VPERG does, they send out cute young ladies and handsome young men to try to lecture grown adults about their life choices. Haven’t we learned yet that using discretionary tactics on brainwashed young minds just doesn’t work. Next time I hope you engage one like her in conversation. You did notice though after what you told her; she was totally disarmed as to how to respond to you. Brainwashing requires learned responses like training a dog. Unfortunately, that young lady will graduate and stay in Vermont to join the other braindead progs already here.

  2. So right Joe, most Democrats care not about the welfare of Vermonters. This discussion reminds me of a bumper sticker: “Hate America, vote Democrat “ – seen on a car in a nearby state.

  3. Here’s another take on Sen. Benning’s thoughts……..Let’s talk about sharing the pain.

    Joe Biden gave a televised speech last night on gun control and then immediately jumped on his helicopter and flew to his Delaware beach house. That same helicopter will likely return him and Dr. Jill Biden to the White House in a couple of days.

    Now what do you suppose the carbon foot print is for such helicopter rides?…..Probably more than heating your home with a fossil fuel for a month during a Vermont winter……..So Joe and Dr. Jill Biden…….How about sharing the pain with the rest of us?

    How about driving to the beach house in a Chevy Volt or Bolt…….Which ever one doesn’t have the exploding battery.