“Own it and come out swinging” on new carbon tax, senator suggests

By Guy Page

Sen. Dick McCormack (bottom left) says the “Enhanced Energy Savings Act” should be called what it is – a carbon tax.

by Guy Page

The proposed “Enhanced Energy Savings Act” is a carbon tax, and maybe the Senate should “own it and come out swinging,” one senator told his fellow Natural Resources and Energy Committee members yesterday.

The EESA exists only in a draft authored by Chair Chris Bray (D-Addison). It would “set a goal of weatherizing 120,000 homes within 10 years” and “establish a thermal energy efficiency charge” to pay for it. 

Homeowners would pay more to stay warm (2 cents/gallon for oil/propane/kerosene, less than 1% for natural gas and electricity) to pay for the weatherization of 120,000 more homes in the next decade.

In draft form, the word “tax” is crossed out and replaced with “thermal efficiency charge.” That bit of legislative literary legerdemain caught the attention of Windsor County Sen. Dick McCormack. 

“Do we want to call this money that we’re going to be charging people an efficiency fee? I think it’s a tax,” McCormack – A Democrat and longtime liberal arts teacher –  said. “And I think it’s a carbon pollution tax. And I think that I don’t want to be in the position of appearing to be hiding something and then arguing about the semantics after the fact.” 

“It’s going to be seen as a carbon pollution tax and i think that’s accurate and we’re going to end up having to defend that policy anyway,” McCormack advised. “In which case maybe we should own it and come out swinging.”

Legislative lawyer Ellen Czajkowski said it’s not technically a ‘carbon tax’ – it’s more of a charge on a heating bill. “There isn’t specifically anything real in this language referring to carbon and the rates are not based on the amount of carbon, so I don’t think – at least at the moment – it is a carbon tax.”

McCormack was first appointed to the Senate in 1989. He’s had this discussion before.  “Right, yeah, I buy your argument Ellen. I don’t think all of my constituents will buy the argument,” McCormack said with a chuckle. “For them it’s their money and the state is taking it, and we’re taking it for our purposes. But that’s my cross to bear. Your job is to make sense. My job is to sell it.”

The committee then discussed who would sponsor the bill and when and how it might be introduced. As of this writing, the “Vermont Enhanced Energy Savings Act” has not been scheduled for introduction. 

Categories: Energy

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7 replies »

  1. Legislative lawyer Ellen Zajkowski said it’s not technically a ‘carbon tax.’ – it’s more of a charge on a heating bill. (2 cents/gallon for oil/propane/kerosene, less than 1% for natural gas and electricity). Okay I guess that a poe-tate-oe is not a poe-tot-toe, and a toe-mate-oe is not a toe-mat-oe .

  2. With this new fee does that mean that the charge in my electric bill that goes to Efficiency Vermont will be discontinued? As far as weatherization of 120,000 homes in 10 years forget it. There is not sufficient labor in Vermont to do even 12,000 homes in 10 years.

    • My thought exactly. This is just another redundant jobs program adding to the constantly growing hackarama like Massachusetts has. Efficiency Vermont has grown enormously in the last 20 years but, like many non-profits, the amount that actually goes toward helping homeowners is small compared to what it spends on salaries and benefits and glossy promotions and subsidies that ultimately benefit certain industries.

  3. “thermal energy efficiency charge” baloney, becomes 2 cent tax, becomes 10 cent tax, then 50 cents, then $1.00 a gallon — As fast as they can go!!
    All this while they send out $1000’s in checks over and over for the folks driven out of work, or not.?!

    ” I’m from Vt. Legislature, and I am here to help?”

  4. Why are legislators afraid to call a tax a tax, especially here in Vermont. Are you not elected to serve we the people, and not be self serving? In a time when people are unable to work due to Unconstitutional mandates, or working from home, which is questionable at best, do we need more taxes?


  6. Unfortunately people keep voting for these liberals, i.e. the Democrats. The Democratic platform is all about taxes and taking away your rights as a citizen!
    We have to vote these people out before Vermont becomes unaffordable to make a living.