Colburns: Climate Action Plan will put VT farmers out of business

Visual commentary by JT Dodge

By Mark Colburn (co-authored with Hope Colburn) 

Since hearing concerns from many fellow Vermonters about the recent House vote on the bill entitled Vermont Clean Heat Standard, I have done considerable research on the Vermont Climate Council’s Climate Action Plan and the Vermont Clean Heat Standard.

What I have learned is very concerning. We are a multi-generational, native Vermont farm family, with a lot of money invested in our agricultural operation, ranging from beef cattle, cropping, vegetable growing, poultry raising, and a very large investment in maple syrup production. Fossil fuels are a very necessary part of our energy needs. The nature of our operation and equipment does not lend itself to electrification. 

Mark Colburn, Glover beef farmer and maple syrup producer

I had written my Vermont legislative representative about my concerns over high heating oil and diesel fuel costs as a result of this bill. In their answer to my concern about the future cost of heating oil and diesel fuel (fossil fuel) for our agricultural operation, they stated that we might expect to see a 1.5% increase per gallon for fossil fuels. Off-road diesel fuel for our equipment, which is less expensive than highway diesel for trucks because of no highway use tax, cost us $4.13/gallon on March 11. If it goes to say $8/gallon in the near future, that will be a 200% increase, not a 1.5% increase! 

The VCC has stated that they want to push the price of fossil fuel so high that the average Vermonter can’t afford them and will have to go electric. Even if this is denied by some, it is no secret that this is one of the goals. We can’t “go electric” in our agricultural business but will go out of business because we cannot afford $8/gallon heating oil for our sugaring operation where we boil sap from 40,000 taps to make 10,000 gallons of maple syrup each year.

Nor can we afford $8/gallon for diesel fuel for our equipment. Boiling that much sap with wood products is not feasible either. People won’t and can’t pay us $75/gallon for our maple syrup. I have heard rumors of a possible exemption for agricultural businesses. That poses two distinct problems: if fossil fuel use in Vermont is really as bad as some try to tell us, how can you exempt agricultural businesses? Will forestry equipment be exempted? How will that go over with the construction companies and their fossil fuel use? What will the highway truckers think of carrying the burden all by themselves? Get ready for some serious blowback. 

For those Vermonters who are expected to heat with heat pumps, unless you have just built an extremely energy efficient house and install multiple heat pumps, you cannot heat it with a heat pump during Vermont’s coldest winter months. Even with a highly efficient home, you will need something for fossil fuel backup heat. Reminds me of the fallacy of going “green” by depending on solar and wind electric energy. What happens in a bad winter ice storm when the solar and wind electric generators can’t produce for days? Answer… crank up the fossil fuel electric generators, if the owners can still afford to keep them in standby mode. 

We are only one of many Vermont businesses that have the same fossil fuel energy needs. To have a council of unelected members set future energy standards for all Vermonters for the foreseeable future, which do not appear to be obtainable, is not good governance. It will be very injurious to the average Vermonter’s economic wellbeing and lifestyle. Some legislators who support the Climate Action Plan report have stated in writing that all of these efforts will not stop or even affect our climate change. These major and drastic actions being initiated will not result in any temperature decrease. 

If you or I were entering into a business venture that required a large sum of money and would have enormous consequences on our financial and physical and mental wellbeing (stress related), we would certainly want to do due diligence before jumping in with both feet. That said, I, like many other Vermonters, am at a loss to understand why the legislature would not want to wait for the March 15, 2023 report on the projected costs and benefits of the Clean Heat Standard. When the VCC was appointed in October of 2020, they were tasked with coming out with their report by December 1, 2021. They rushed to make that deadline. The first go around on a project as large and life changing as this requires a second look. There is no reason to rush. 

Since the legislature will be getting a report on the projected costs and benefits of the Clean Heat Standard on March 15, 2023, why would waiting a year for all of this to settle out make a difference? Answer, it wouldn’t. After seeing the report, the legislature might find it harder to pass it. The relatively small amount of CO2 emissions the State of Vermont will put out over the next year is tiny relative to the world or USA emissions.

Vermont produces the least CO2 emissions per year of any state in the US. Vermont produces annually only 0.1% (1/10%) of all the total US CO2 emissions! The next state, Delaware, produces 2X as much as Vermont at 0.2%. This statistic is one that I have never seen nor heard during all the discussions about Act 153. Why? Vermont’s percentage of the annual worldwide CO2 emissions is so infinitesimally small that I would have to use up so many zeroes to the right of the decimal point that I would run out of zeroes.

Shame on those 96 House legislators for voting against the amendment to wait for the March 23, 2023 report before voting on the VT Clean Heat Standard.

In reading Governor Scott’s December 1, 2021 Administration Signing Statement on the VCC’s report, I am concerned about references to the VCC’s recommendation for state-level land use planning and statements, like a state-wide goal on “no net loss” of “natural lands”.

To add insult to injury, I just came across House bill H.606, Community resilience and biodiversity protection. Very concerning to us and will be to most Vermonters when they dig into it. Most Vermonters don’t like state wide land use planning and control of this nature. 

The more I learn about the VCC, the Climate Action Report, the Clean Heat Act, and other parts of the Act 153, and how the majority of our Vermont legislators are accepting this as fact without fully understand the ramifications of it, the more concerned I become.

Mark and Hope Glover raise beef cattle and produce maple syrup at their farm in Glover.

21 replies »

  1. Cheers to Mark Colburn and Hope Colburn. You’ve made ALL good points backed by history and evidence . If you havent sent that to your reps and senators , please DO. Maybe they’ll respond better than mine.

    This Algore climate lunacy needs to stop before ALL of our prosperity stops.

    • Do we have any farmers in the legislature or more so on this unelected commission that decided this for everyone!

  2. The legislature has gone full feels before reals, emotion & instinct over reason, and grandstanding, hollow virtue signals over practical reality, and no, they don’t care about you. They only care that they get to imagine that people think they care about you. What they really care about is themselves, and it makes for terrible public policy. They will turn a full blind eye to the actual hardships they create in their imaginary efforts to save the world from such unenlightened folks as you and I.

  3. Thank you Hope and Mark for contacting your legislators. More need to. We must rise up and defeat the Democrat leadership doing this stuff to us Vermonters. They are hurting us all. Thank you,

    Gregory Thayer

  4. It will kill vt farmers and people with open land. and older Vermonter’s on fixed income with older home’s. and it will change Vermont as we know it.

  5. Climate Marxism – Control the means and (re)distribution of production by controlling the means and distribution of energy. It’s the marriage of the Degrowth Movement with Marxism.

  6. Vt has entered full blown Communisum & don’t know it!
    New Hampshire has twice as many people & 1/2 the gov employees., no income tax & no sales tax.
    Time to take back your land.
    Climate is fake brainwash.
    There is no fossil fuel, crude is put in the ground by our Lord!
    Imagine fossil enough to make crude, stupid as the earth is not that old even.
    Rob John to pay Jill!

  7. It’ll put much more than farmers out of comission. But hey….call your local representatives. Lot of em drive EVs or hybrids and are more than happy to tell you it’s all good!!!! My Gawd they are so smaht. Happy motoring and fahming folks. Goodbye Vermont.

  8. Thank you for this analysis. It’s a total lack of fiduciary responsibility to have moved ahead on this without waiting for the 2023 report. And I only know one person in Vermont with a heat pump and she has told me it doesn’t work and she has to rely on something else. Electric bills go up too, I hear, when you start charging your EV; particularly in those NE states that drastically increased their electro rates in 2021.

  9. I was, and to a degree still am, a “tree-hugger”. That being said, all of this will simply pave the way for “Big Agra” to take over. “Capitalism” vs. “Free Enterprise” in the definitive sense.

  10. Share this story to every legislature (unlike most of our reps not sharing much with us until the final bell…there are exceptions but few, very few) SO SHARE with all people and officials …its perfectly written and truthful……I am stunned this year at all the changes our Vermont gov is making… is going to hurt all of us…..

  11. Past legislatures have used the phrase “unintended consequences” as a fall back to blame their defective legislation on- and to a degree is has been accepted by voters. As this group of elitist legislators head for the finish line with glaringly incompetent “climate change” bills, boards and councils- the end result will so dramatically affect every Vermont resident, negatively- I cannot fathom how this group can consider themselves legislators, upholding Vermont’s Constitution in any sense. While some of this group may believe that they are effecting change for the good, I am now convinced most consider themselves the elite socialists, carving out their place in the “new world order” they worship. All animals are equal, Orwell wrote- Some animals are more equal than others.
    For those legislators that forgot- The Vermont Constitution directs legislators in Chapter 1 Article 6:
    “That all power being originally inherent in and consequently derived from the people, therefore, all officers of government, whether legislative or executive, are their trustees and servants; and at all times , in a legal way , accountable to them.

  12. No farms, no food, no food, no people, no people, no taxes.
    The Democratic legislators are driving Vermont into the ground.

  13. Thank you, Mark and Hope for sharing your thoughts on this very important issue: our future in Vermont!! Please consider sending your comments to the weekly and daily newspapers for publication.



  15. READ: Portrait of Vermont held hostage, coercion, bullying, lies and propaganda the tool – that COUNTS on Vermonters lacking the common sense inherent in our bones, dirt, and lives.

    Who is writing this script?
    UN Sustainable DEVELOPMENT Agenda 2030 (even its title gives away who will be benefiting from their sustainable goal developmenst -SDGs).

    What affect does wifi cell towers and antennae have on cows, calves, and soil acidification?
    Quite a lot, once you dig into the copious research, at this point in time, on biologics and soil microbes.

    We are destroying Vermont to replace it with an engineer and computer programmers limited, facile version of ‘life’ should look like here. And being coerced, bullying and controlled into compliance.

    “If you don’t like it, you can leave.”

    I say its time to REALLY take back Vermont from these soulless beings imposing tyranny on Vermonters.
    With what is ahead, farmers like the Coburns are going to keep us alive.
    But only if they can afford the fuel to do so.

    Welcome to the Dystopian State of Chinarmont, whose soul has been sold to Mammon.

    Or not.
    We get what we accept.

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