CLF is gearing up to sue Vermont over Global Warming Solutions Act

Senators appear to be encouraging this – at taxpayer expense

by Rob Roper

The last question for Chad Whiting of the Conservation Law Foundation during his testimony in support of the Clean Heat Standard bill (S.5) now before the Senate Natural Resources & Energy committee came from Senator Mark MacDonald (D-Orange). “Are you busy with steps for a possible lawsuit that we will need [emphasis in original] in the event that we fail to move forward on this?”

Whiting replied in lawyerly fashion, “The Conservation Law Foundation is very aware of the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act. We are monitoring very closely what is happening in the Climate Council and the Agency of Natural Resources and all the departments and agencies of government and the legislature. We are certainly not taking that option off the table.”

Senator Becca White (D-Windsor) gave a thumbs up and said, “I like your answer.”

The Global Warming Solutions Act, passed by the Democratic and Progressive majorities over the veto of Governor Phil Scott and the Republican minority, states, “Any person may commence an action alleging that rules adopted by the Secretary pursuant to section 593 of this chapter have failed to achieve the greenhouse gas emissions reductions requirements pursuant to section 578 of this title.” And that, “In an action brought pursuant to this section, a prevailing party or substantially prevailing party: (1) that is a plaintiff shall be awarded reasonable costs and attorney’s fees….”

Several witnesses (and basic math) are on record that Vermont is not on track to achieve those reductions by the first milestone in 2025, nor the second milestone in 2030, so the anticipated lawsuit now appears inevitable.

It is not that Vermont isn’t doing considerable work on climate change. We spend an estimated quarter billion dollars a year on climate related projects. The problem is that the GWSA mandates are logistically and financially impossible to meet.

For example, in order to meet the 2025 reduction goals, Vermont would have to increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads from just over 7000 where we are today to 27,000 – in two years. A supply chain bringing this number of cars to Vermont does not exist. Demand for EVs is driven in large part by subsidies to the purchasers, and there is no revenue source to pay subsidies to drive this level of demand. Moreover, accommodating this number of electric vehicles would require public and private infrastructure investment (charging stations, electrical panel upgrades, new power generation, etc.), and neither the funding or the labor force to do this work exists.

Similar issues are rampant within the thermal weatherization portion of the GWSA. Jared Duval of The Energy Action Network and the Vermont Climate Council estimated Vermont currently has about 700 weatherization workers, but, “we will likely need somewhere in the range of 5,000 weatherization workers by sometime around the middle of this decade if we are to achieve the weatherization recommendations of the Climate Action Plan.” Again, that’s just two years away.

Given an already tight labor market, Vermont’s generally shrinking workforce, and the fact that this particular industry (electricians, plumbers, etc.) is facing a retirement bubble, we can safely say that a seven-fold increase in this labor force over the next two years is not going to happen, and the work isn’t going to get done.

But our elected representatives have made sure that Vermont taxpayers can and will be sued, potentially at a cost of multiple millions of dollars in attorneys’ fees, when the impossible fails to materialize.

The Conservation Law Foundation has a track record for this sort of litigation. They successfully sued Massachusetts for failing to meet the goals of that state’s 2008 version of a Global Warming Solutions Act, and now boast on their website in the aftermath of that court victory, “CLF now has a proven model for pushing for legal climate goals in other states that will usher in the end of the era of fossil fuels in New England.” So, to say they consider a lawsuit as simply an option on the table is exercise in understatement. They are chomping at the bit.

The CLF and similar groups such as VPIRG, Vermont Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club all lobbied in favor of passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act, insistent that the lawsuit provision remain included as “the teeth” the bill needed in order to be enforced – by them and their lawyers. A cynical observer might conclude that these organizations intentionally pushed (and in VPIRG’s case helped elect) politicians to pass impossible mandates specifically so they could, in fact, sue the state and reap the harvest of millions in legal fees (along with the assuredly lucrative public fundraising campaigns that would accompany such a lawsuit) as a result.

That our politicians were either gullible enough to go along with this scheme or corrupt enough to be complicit in it does not speak well of their sense of responsibility to look out for their constituents’ best interests. Purposefully and unnecessarily putting Vermont taxpayers in legal jeopardy is indefensible and irresponsible.

Even for those constituents who believe whole heartedly in the goals and methods of the Global Warming Solutions Act, the lawsuit provision of the GWSA will only serve to shift the millions of dollars necessary to prosecute and defend the court case (Vermont taxpayers would have to pay both the plaintiffs’ and the defendant’s legal bills) away from actual climate projects, and could potentially delay actual progress.

Several Republican legislators led by Mark Higley (R-Lowell) have put forward a bill, H.74, to repeal the Global Warming Solutions Act and its lawsuit provision. But given the Democrats’ new super-supermajority status in both chambers of the legislature, it would take a massive public uprising for that bill or anything like it to even be considered.

Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. This article reprinted with permission from Behind the Lines: Rob Roper on Vermont Politics, robertroper.substack.com

Categories: Legislation

17 replies »

  1. I’ve never seen anybody so seemingly giddy about the probability of being sued. That goes a long way in proving where these “Representatives” heads are at . You would think that the stench would be enough to make them pull their heads out !

  2. Climate evangelism has rooted deep in Vermont’s liberal and socialist elitists. While your representative or senator may be well-intentioned, they are naive or corrupted. This is about furthering the agenda and lining pockets, campaign fund accounts and graft, not Vermont’s minuscule carbon output.
    The CLF and VPIRG have been working on these suits for several years, in anticipation of filling the Washington County court docket in 2025. For those that forgot, all of the climate suits will be brought in Washington County, by law. VPIRG and CLF as well as the other future litigants whom wrote the GWSA made sure to have a sympathetic court for their fleecing of Vermont’s climate worshiping sheep.
    It is astounding how few Vermont voters and residents still cannot see thru the bombast and lies to the money machine created, at their considerable expense and discomfort- fully believing the tales told and eagerly awaiting “climate justice”.
    Of particular note, mr. baruth and ms. krowinski need to get their respective pigeons under control- macdonald and white to start- to curtail their giddy enthusiasm at the
    upcoming disaster that awaits Vermont. Or maybe not. The clear disrespect for the Vermont Constitution these people have sworn to uphold should be evident to all, but
    as evidenced by past November’s election results- too many still believe this fairy-tale.

    • I hold no hope for Baruth or Krowinski doing anything but riding herd to the slaughter house. They are the biggest part of the problem with the present rendition of “The People’s House.” It has become the “The Supreme Soviet, or National People’s Congress”, and the “collective” will do as they say, because they know better than us, what is in our own best interest.

      • And the most alarming part of their actions is that they are not dictators who came in the dark of night…WE THE PEOPLE voted for them in overwhelming numbers. Shame on us VT voters.

  3. I just had a visit at the DMV in Mount Stupid. What I saw wondering in to deal with their registration or license issues allowed me to see with my own eyes why this state votes the way it does. Just go to a Walmart and if you have any critical observation skills, you will understand too. We are living in the Idiot Apocalypse, the useful idiots on parade, some still wearing masks over their faces. I never considered myself to be above others in any way, I have now changed my mind. These are not my people, I guess it’s not their fault and then, maybe it is. If your mission in life is to not try to advance your intelligence, you are the people who have put us in this dyer situation as well as yourself. However, you might be to stupid to understand that cutting your own throat is not good for you. “Beam me up Scotty, there’s no intelligent life down here”. From Star Trek

    • The Eloi, common people willing to be slaves and the Morlocks, democrats enslaving the Eloi. Usually an evil army invades a peaceful happy country, in this case a peaceful happy state invited the evil in and gave them Carte blanche.

  4. “Mount Morons?”ollar

    Never a $Dollar they can’t spend

    Never a mandate they cannot create

  5. Attention: This is not NY BernieCity any longer.
    “That our politicians were either gullible enough to go along with this scheme or corrupt enough to be complicit in it does not speak well of their sense of responsibility to look out for their constituents’ best interests. Purposefully and unnecessarily putting Vermont taxpayers in legal jeopardy is indefensible and irresponsible.”
    And they want to put in a huge international power company line through our pristine state.
    Wake up. We’re less than a million people. Leave us alone. Aren’t the dead and dying over fentanyl enough for these psychopaths and their crooked lawyers?

  6. I have little choice but to keep my thermostat at 62F in the winter and wear fleece jammies and a ski cap indoors at all times. I don’t get any perks for it from the state, but it does keep users and losers from wanting to move in with me.

  7. As if Vermont had any control over the earth’s climate! Meanwhile it will be minus twenty something degrees throughout the state this weekend and I definitely have plenty of snow at my house. But all I hear about is the death of winter!

  8. I have heard it said that the best way to get rid of a bad law is to enforce it rigorously.

    To this end, I propose that, at the right time, conservatives launch a class action suit to enforce the provisions of the Vermont Global Warming Act. The sooner the real costs are felt by Vermont’s citizens, the sooner this act will be repealed. In the interim, we should be demanding now, an accounting of the real costs associated with the implementation of this act, no hedging. Are electric cars scarce? Will we have to pay a premium to reserve the cars that are available so Vermont customers can buy them? These costs should be included, along with infrastructure improvements and everything else.

    At the same time we should hammer away at the flawed findings on which the Vermont Global Warming Act was enacted. The IPCC is far from a non political entity. Their claim that human activity is responsible for the observed climate change is far from settled science. As with our recent brush with government sponsored misinformation regarding Covid, free speech concerning climate change has been suppressed. If we protect scientists that are willing to speak out and publicize them, perhaps others will come out of the closet and join the fray.

  9. Dwight Deafer may be on to something. Draw up forms to sue the state, whereas you need only to fill in the blanks. Flood them with these ,by the hundreds. Be sure and include that you are a republican voter looking for your piece of the pie.