By Guy Page
A Republican candidate for the Vermont House of Representatives is pounding a climate hawk incumbent Democrat for his support of carbon taxation.
Frank Empsall is trying to unseat two-term incumbent Rep. Scott Campbell (D-St. Johnsbury). Republican Scott Beck holds the other seat in the two-seat district. Empsall finished third in the 2020 general election, but hopes that growing dissatisfaction with Campbell’s carbon tax voting record makes the difference this year.
No other Democrats are running, leaving Campbell in what many political observers believe is a difficult position, because some Democratic voters who would vote ‘double-D’ will instead choose one of his Republican challengers. And now Empsall is taking aim at what he clearly believes is Campbell’s point of electoral vulnerability – his strong, consistent advocacy for carbon taxation and other costly ways to reduce Vermont’s carbon emissions.
In the State House, some lawmakers are known for ‘favorite issues.’ Campbell is a Climate guy. A weatherization professional, he has introduced climate legislation, fought hard for its passage on the House floor, and co-sponsored other bills aimed at carbon reduction. Not surprisingly, he’s a member of the Joint Carbon Emissions Reduction Committee.
On September 12, the Committee to elect Frank Empsall took out an ad in the Caledonian-Record, the venerable, locally-owned daily newspaper whose coverage area includes St. Johnsbury, Concord, and Kirby, the three towns in Campbell’s district. The ad accurately states that Campbell was:
- Lead sponsor for the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020. The GWSA required the State of Vermont to make deep cuts in carbon emissions, or face legal action.
- Champion of the ‘Clean Heat Standard,’ which would drive up the price of heating oil for homes and businesses. (He supported it in all three roll call votes.)
- An advocate for Vermont joining the 10-state Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) “to raise the tax you pay on gasoline and diesel fuel for your car and truck.” (Specifically the TCI would tax the wholesale fuel dealer, who then would pass along the added cost to consumers at the pump.)
“The most important cause in Montpelier for Scott Campbell is driving up your energy prices to make you stop using gasoline, diesel, heating oil and propane – all to defeat what he believes to be catastrophic ‘climate change’,” Empsall writes in the ad. “If that’s not your most important cause, say No to Mr. Carbon Tax Scott Campbell and send Republican Frank Empsall to represent you in the House. He will work to protect you, not tax you out of existence.”
This morning, Vermont Daily Chronicle asked Campbell to respond to the ad.
“I don’t chose to respond to deceptive, obnoxious ads such as what my opponent just placed,” Campbell replied. “Regarding the climate crisis, the status quo is untenable; the global energy transition required is an economic disruption; the resulting transformations in world, national and local economies will challenge Vermont and the NEK. What’s his and other naysayers’ suggestion? Just saying no is not an answer. It’s a failure of leadership.”