Peterson: why I voted No on S.5

VT carbon 51st in nation, heating oil consumption dropping

By Rep. Art Peterson

The Global Warming Solutions Act, passed in 2020, was the reason I pursued a House seat that same year. In my mind there was no possible way that emission reductions in Vermont would affect the world climate. They would, however, have a very noticeable effect on all of our pocketbooks in the form of a carbon tax on fossil fuels. 

Rep. Art Peterson

I I strongly opposed this act and got elected to a House seat. Now, three years later, we have bill S.5 that establishes the “clean heat standard” in line with Act 153. It says: 

“Under this program, obligated parties shall reduce greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the Vermont thermal sector by retiring required amounts of clean heat credits to meet the thermal sector portion of the greenhouse gas emission reduction obligations of the Global Warming Solutions Act.”

This monster bill is 38 pages long, filled with the complicated legal framework necessary to purge Vermont of fossil fuel usage. It establishes “clean heat credits” and “clean heat measures” that will be used by fuel dealers to wean their customers off fossil fuels. 

In theory the way it works is that the fuel dealer will be required by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to purchase and then retire a yet to be determined number of clean heat credits every year by convincing their customers to install costly “clean heat measures” like electric heat pumps or solar hot water systems. In effect, dealers are putting themselves out of business but will also be forced to pass the cost of the credits on to their fossil fuel customers. 

That added cost to the customer is unknown at this time. An estimated cost of $.70 per gallon has been used; Democrats claim that is too high, some claim it isn’t high enough. The lack of specifics is troubling. The bill gives broad powers to the unelected PUC to run the show and, of course, expands state government by adding six new positions to the tune of $1.725M annually. It defines what is and is not renewable fuels and measures, sets up rule-making, and establishes a “check back” in Section 6 of the bill by February 15, 2024 to determine how badly the plan will hurt the consumer. Supposedly at that time things can be adjusted.

A study was done in 2017 that listed carbon emissions by state for the United States and all its territories. Vermont ranked 51st in the nation in emissions according to the information on Wikipedia. Here are the stats of the last few states on the list:

Annual CO2 emissions in 2017 (millions of metric tons), Wikipedia:

  • #43 Puerto Rico 19.8 (territory)
  • #46 Maine 15.4
  • #47 S. Dakota 14.5
  • #48 N.H. 13.4
  • #49 Delaware 12.3
  • #50 R.I. 10.0
  • #51 Vermont 5.8 (.1% of total U. S. emissions)

On top of this Vermont accounts for .0014% of worldwide carbon fumes. Does it make any sense for the least polluting state in the nation to take the kind of draconian approach to emission control that S.5 dictates? Requiring Vermonters to reduce carbon emissions to stop climate change is like pouring a bucket of water in Wallingford’s Lake Elfin and expecting to see the lake level rise. It’s not going to happen.

Last Thursday when debate over S.5 raged in the House chamber, the representative reporting on the bill freely admitted that this program would not have any effect on the climate. If that’s true then the results of this undertaking will not be a “global warming solution” and so the primary purpose of the bill is debunked. 

Vermont is already doing its part to convert to cleaner energy without the state telling us to do so. According to the U.S. Department of energy in 2003 Vermont homes used 112 million gallons of heating oil and kerosene. By 2019 that had been reduced to 84 million gallons. Meanwhile the supposed “clean” electricity is still 88% produced by non-renewable resources. 

Innovation and competition will change and improve the heating and utilities industry, leading to less polluting products and fuels in the future. To this legislator that approach is far preferable to any state mandated program like S.5, which is a solution in search of a problem. I voted no and I hope Governor Scott vetoes the bill.

The author is a Vermont House Representative for Clarendon and West Rutland.

Categories: Legislation

10 replies »

  1. Shouldn’t the State of Vermont, Department of Buildings and General Services take the first step in this effort before expecting the citizens to dive in ? Maybe things have changed since I retired in 2018, but at that time the old buildings which make up the Capitol Complex were anything but efficient. Said “Complex” was heated by a wood chip burning boiler with 2 oil burning backups which kicked in when the primary wood chip boiler could not handle the load, or was off line for whatever reason. On at least one occasion (heating season) the oil for the “back ups” was oil purchased from a Canadian supplier, and was of a thicker viscosity which required preheating to burn in the boilers. Shortly before I retired, a lot of the down town Montpelier area was added to the State Office Complex’s load on these boilers. The last I knew there were no solar panels on any of the state buildings, and I don’t remember one wind turbine on the complex either ! What I guess I am saying is that these duplicitous legislators expect us to do what they say, not as they do, so shut up and take it !

  2. This legislation is obviously not going to have any actual measurable, positive effect on the planet but is solely intended to market Vermont’s legislative body as caring and activist champions of environmental virtue. The promoters of this economy-crushing measure envision the goal simply as an opportunity to fulfill their life’s ambition of being interviewed on the state house steps by CNN, MSNBC, VPR etc…
    Hang on to your wallets, Vermonters, and take pride in who you you voted for…

  3. Vermont state is actually building a facility, in which it has hired a well company to install a thermal well. I assume this is to heat the building. Obviously, the cost of this well will be passed on to tax payers, who will also be forced to pay the carbon tax to use heating oil. There is no way a homeowner can afford to have a thermal well dug.

    I have also pointed out to our legislature numerous times over the last two years that nothing Vermont does will impact the global carbon emissions. This is a political agenda driven by the United Nations, which demands compliance from all partner countries, which includes the US.

    • I was at CPO-3. As far as I know, no Congress (Democrat or Republican) has ever approved or confirmed our commitment to any of this madness. Sacrifice without ANY measurable return on the cost is economic or responsible.

  4. Thank you Rep. Peterson for your vote.
    Sad to say, virtue signaling has taken precedence over common sense and serving the people in the Vermont legislature.
    Seems to me, either the expansion of the welfare state will explode once S.5 goes into effect, or the population will shift to a majority of wealthy people.

  5. Thank you for voting no. It’s too bad that the Legislators in this state ignore the facts and call it disinformation when it doesn’t fit their plans. Unfortunately our Federal Government has been doing that also since 2020. I guess they have been indoctrinated well!

    • Sorry. I am old enough that I can identify this madness, at least, to the beginning of the Clinton administration at the DOE>

  6. And of course, buried in this act are the results of greed. The amount of conflicts of interest associated with many of the sponsors is remarkable. Are there no conflict of interest rules legislators have to follow? Isn’t it unconstitutional for a legislature to turn over its oversite responsibilities to an unelected entity? Who is watching the hen house one this.

    Thanks for a clear warning.

    And just wait until the 16-year-olds get to vote!

  7. From the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution:

    “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    This passage of the 14 Amendment gives the U.S. Supreme Court the power to strike down state laws that previously would have been beyond its jurisdiction prior to the Civil War.

    Forcing fuel dealers to put themselves out of business and citizens into poverty is exactly what the 14th Amendment prohibits!

    Whatever happened to free and fair markets, do they even exist anymore?

    Obviously lawmakers think they can justify strong arming us, but where is the greater good in violating the 14th Amendment?

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