Climate bill S.5 ‘checkback’ weakened by House committee

by Guy Page

S.5, the controversial “Affordable Heating Act” that would create a carbon credit program and raise the costs of fossil-fuel based heating fuels, was approved by a key House committee late last week with at least one major change: the ‘checkback’ added by the Senate under extreme pressure from citizens has been removed.

The checkback requires the Legislature to review and vote on specific costs and impacts of the carbon emissions reduction scheme after a two-year study.

As reported by the Campaign for Vermont, “In the House, the bill creating a carbon tax credit system advanced out of the Environment & Energy Committee with a concerning amendment that guts the “check-back” provision added by the Senate. This provision would require that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) bring the proposed rules (and cost estimates) to the legislature before they go into effect in 2025. The new changes allows the PUC to largely skirt this “check-back” requirement.”

The bill has been sent to the House Appropriations Committee to determine its impact on state spending. If approved without a significant checkback, the House version of S.5 will need to be reconciled with the Senate version if the bill is to become law.

The checkback was the key Senate concession earlier this session to what one lawmaker called “thousands” of phone calls and emails expressing opposition to a bill guaranteed to raise heating fuel prices – with the only disagreement being how much. The State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources estimated the impact at 70 cents per gallon.

As reported March 1 by VDC:

S.5, the Affordable Heating Act that is the successor to last year’s vetoed Clean Heat Standard Bill, was approved by Senate Appropriations by a 4-3 vote.

Among several amendments approved by Approps, the most sought after by critics was the ‘check back’ with one major change sought by its opponents, who say the plan is undeveloped, complex, and lacks clarity and transparency in its cost and manpower requirements.

The proposed checkback two years from this January gives state energy experts time to develop needed information and the Legislature an affirmative responsibility to vote on a more clear path forward.

The amendment requires that by Jan. 15, 2025, the Public Utilities Commission “shall submit to the General Assembly final proposed rules to implement the Clean Heat Standard.” No rules may be enacted “until specific authorization is enacted by the General Assembly to do so.”

Approps added that the Clean Heat Standard “shall to the greatest extent possible maximize the use of available federal funds.” It also requires customer data protection and funding for data analysts to crunch the numbers on AHA timeframe and costs.

“The checkback amendment that was approved in S5 by the Senate Appropriations Committee is a major and necessary improvement,” S.5 skeptic John Brabant of Vermonters for a Clean Environment said. “It just respects Vermonters and respects our institutions.”

Speaking on WVMT’s Morning Drive, Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D-Chittenden) said the amendment makes S.5 a two year study bill.

Categories: Legislation

13 replies »

  1. Misguided and reckless energy policies, long influenced by business interests, environmental organizations and legislators ignorance, are taking a toll on Vermonters way of life and physical and mental status . This is however is a sad result of voters apathy and gullibility. Voters who keep electing individuals caring about everything but their constituents . The work of VDC and TNR has exposed that ,while massively opposed by the public ,a diabolical and perverted bill is still coming out of committees . The arrogance and despise toward their constituents demonstrated by legislators is appalling .This is a terrifying observation. Vermont is sinking into an ideological political nightmare and Vermonters are losing their rights and their freedom of choice in the way of conducting their personal lives .

  2. Hi Guy,

    Did I miss your call to verify these claims? Is there some reason you have not provided the specific changed language that your claim is based on? What should we think about your reporting this unverified claim without citation?

    From your article above:
    “the ‘checkback’ added by the Senate under extreme pressure from citizens has been removed’

    This is false.

    “As reported by the Campaign for Vermont, “In the House, the bill creating a carbon tax credit system advanced out of the Environment & Energy Committee with a concerning amendment that guts the “check-back” provision added by the Senate. This provision would require that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) bring the proposed rules (and cost estimates) to the legislature before they go into effect in 2025. The new changes allows the PUC to largely skirt this “check-back” requirement.””

    We also did not “gut” the check back requirement. This is false.

    The new changes do not allow the PUC to largely skirt the check back. This is false.

    Here are the bill versions if you are inclined to report on the facts instead of passing along unverified hearsay. https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/document/2024/19/Bill/448148#documents-section

    Rep. Laura Sibilia

  3. Ms. Thurston is correct.
    Additionally, it appears that all energy not used in transportation will be controlled by a 3 member politically appointed commission, the PUC. Currently, the PUC members include margaret cheney, spouse of peter welch, Vermont’s newly coronated senator.

  4. These legislators are the enemies of the people. They need to be treated as the horrifying evil they are.

  5. This is scary. Constituents tell elected officials they don’t want this. They can’t afford it. I don’t understand why this S5 is moving along. I know I can’t afford to pay an extra any amount on oil for the furnace. I don’t know a lot of people who can!

  6. Well there you have it neighbors. It’s lookin like they’re goin to do this to us. No consensus building…by passing the ground swell of constrenation…no real audit impact accountability…no expiration date to force reassessment. Our lives are being ruled by our enlightened betters.

  7. Hi Guy,

    I see that you are passing along unverified and non cited claims from CFV.

    The check back has not been gutted. It has not been removed. It has not been largely taken out.

    These claims are all false.

    Here is a link to the bill so your readers can see for themselves.


    Noting that I believe I submitted a comment at 4 pm on April 17th and it is still not posted. This comment is being submitted at 7:25 pm on April 17th

    • We certainly can’t have false information regarding legislation based largely around false compensated science or WEF scripted talking points now can we? Too bad Russia and China are now partnered up and are not down with the NWO. How long before we can expect to see the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air? How will nuclear weapons utilized in the Ukraine effect the climate? Associated Press March 2023: “The British defense ministry on Monday confirmed it would provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.” What is in your stock portfolio?

  8. I read this post and then looked at the bill and couldn’t find how the check back was gutted. Though I don’t support S.5 and think it is not good energy policy for Vermont, developed by a private group whose work was not transparent and when reviewed since it became public raises numerous red flags that show it will not result in the emissions reductions that are promised but will especially benefit Vermont Gas Systems and its “Renewable Natural Gas” credit trading games at the expense of our rural fuel dealers, the allegation that the House committee changed the check back language does not appear to be accurate.

  9. This legislature, which has had a long run, continues in their attempt to appease their god of environmental purity, “who” will never be satisfied.
    This idolatrous affair will only end if and when Vermonters become truly woke.

  10. I encourage everyone to read S.5 as Rep. Sibilia has provided a handy link. You will see that the PUC must design and implement the credit trading system in all its intricacy, and fuel dealers will be required to register with the state as “obligated parties” before any “checkback” happens.

    Note that the bill currently only requires the legislature to approve the PUC’s rules, not review a new bill, with a new number, that goes through the standard lawmaking process, whereby citizens can weigh in on the known true dimensions of the Clean Heat Standard in the appropriate committees as was discussed in Senate Appropriations. Citizen input as provided in the current bill is limited to 6 required public engagement sessions hosted by the PUC, and the ability to submit comments, while the rules are being created. These sessions will no doubt be dominated by VPIRG, REV, CLF, and other well funded lobbying groups and special interests.

    As Legislative Counsel pointed out to Rep. Sibilia’s committee more than once, this very complicated bill attempts to find a balance between hurting Vermonters by increasing the cost of heating fuels and satisfying the statutory requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act, whose crafters purposefully made emissions targets mandatory without regard to cost, and in a particularly vile move, invited lawsuits against the state from anyone if progress toward the targets faltered.

    Now supporters of S.5 point to the mandated targets and the “unfunded liability” posed by these invited lawsuits as justification for passage of S.5 (and more bills in the next session dealing with transportation and renewables.) This chicanery is not the work of honorable lawmakers. The GWSA is legislative malpractice and must be repealed.

    A bill to do just that was ignored this session, much to the detriment of Vermont’s citizenry, who prefer to be left alone rather than be subjected to the uncertainties contained in S.5’s 42 brain numbing pages. They have made that clear to their representatives, whose votes on S.5 in the coming days will show if they listen to their constituents, or to their own self-righteous egos.

    When the legislature is faced with final approval of the PUC’s rules in 2025, as long as the GWSA’s “statutory requirements” are in place, lawmakers will say they have no choice but to unleash this monster.