S.5 is FORCING people to pay more for heating fuels
by Rob Roper
It’s a line we hear from our politicians all the time when they are implementing a tax or passing some draconian regulation. “We’re just asking (insert whoever is about to get screwed) to help” by paying a little bit more or giving up a valuable aspect of their life or livelihood. It is a phrase not absent from the Clean Heat Carbon Tax debate.
It popped up again most recently in an article in the Addison Independent interviewing Senators Chris Bray (D-Addison), chair of the Natural Resources & Energy committee and lead advocate for the tax, and his seatmate, Ruth Hardy (D-Addison).
The reporter plays along, writing, “To meet that standard, fossil fuel importers would have been asked to help subsidize cleaner heat options — primarily for low- and middle-income Vermonters — such as weatherization and heat pumps [emphasis added].”
Hardy is quoted directly as saying, “And all this bill does is ask that the fuel dealers become… part of the solution [emphasis added].”
Let’s be perfectly clear here. This bill S.5, and these senators aren’t “asking” anything, except in the sense that Don Corleone “just asked” that band leader to sign over Johnny Fontane’s service contract. For those who haven’t seen The Godfather, Al Pacino’s iconic line from the movie describing the transaction is, “Luca Brazzi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.”
With S.5, our elected representatives aren’t “asking” us to pay more to heat our homes with oil, propane, natural gas, and kerosene, they are forcing us to do so. They aren’t asking us to voluntarily retrofit our homes with expensive cold climate heat pumps and water heaters that may not work in Vermont winter weather, they are making us an offer we can’t refuse.
Senator Mark MacDonald, who can always be counted on to commit candor, was at least honest about this when he said, “We’re in the business of forcing people… to use less fuels [emphasis added].” After which his colleague Senator Becca White (D-Windsor) can be heard agreeing, “Yes.”
MacDonald may have missed that part of our Declaration of Independence that states, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” but at least he’s up front about what he thinks his role is as an elected representative of his constituents – who overwhelmingly do not consent to this legislation.
When someone asks you for something, by definition you have the right and ability to refuse. And should this bill pass, Vermont fuel dealers will not have the opportunity to politely decline the request to purchase “clean heat credits,” the cost of which will necessarily be passed along to customers, who will also have no choice but to pay those higher costs.
The Global Warming Solutions Act mandates – a mandate is not a request – that Vermonters lower our greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, and until that law is repealed, we will be forced to comply.
George Washington warned us, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence-it is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” S.5 is not a responsible action. If it were, the politicians and activists pushing for it would have no problem deriving the consent of the governed to move forward with it, and would have no qualms being truthful about their intent.
So, I’m just asking that our politicians at least be honest about what they are doing with this bill, and I’m just asking our media to help be part of the solution in creating a truly informed electorate by holding their feet to the fire and not let them get away with what is so very transparently a lie.
Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. This article reprinted with permission from Behind the Lines: Rob Roper on Vermont Politics, robertroper.substack.com