Commentary

Roper: Legislature ducks accountability for disastrous energy bill

By Rob Roper

Since January, the House Energy & Technology Committee has been batting about a bill that would impose a “Clean Heat Standard” on consumers of fossil fuels used to heat our homes and businesses. In other words, pretty much all of us.

Rob Roper

It’s clear that this policy is going to have disastrous repercussions. With inflation, federal energy policy and war in Ukraine already driving up the cost of oil, kerosene, natural gas, and propane, the “Clean Heat Standard” will – intentionally — make this even worse. Vermonters will find it even more expensive to stay warm in winter.

Make no mistake, the majority of legislators very much want to do this to you. It is their objective in passing the bill because they don’t like fossil fuels. What they don’t want is for you to hold them accountable for the meteor-like impact they have directed at your wallet.

So, to that end, the way the Clean Heat Standard bill works is the legislature passes some very broad goals and outlines around the generically popular notions of reducing thermal greenhouse gas emissions while handing off the details – the real dirty work of crushing the consumer, wiping out small businesses, and taking the state economy — to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). To be clear about what’s happening here: the legislature is authorizing that an unelected body design and implement a program that will have major economic consequences while having no idea what it will cost, how (or even if) it can work.

This is by design, because they want plausible deniability that they knew what this law would do when they voted yes. But they do know. They just do not care.

Rep. Jim Harrison (R-Chittenden) put forward an amendment that would force the legislature to vote (for or against) the PUC plan after it is complete. This way the legislature would cast a vote knowing full well what the costs, mandates, bureaucratic overhead, and economic impact analysis predict. 

That, argued the seven members of the Energy & Technology Committee who shot down the proposal, would be disrespectful to the PUC. What a load of horse manure!

They also said that if what the PUC came back with really had problems, the legislature was still free – though not obligated – to do something.

To this, Rep. Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe), one of the two committee members who supported the Harrison Amendment, noted that Act 46, the school district consolidation law passed in 2015, was created along the same lines. And, when it became clear that law was not being implemented as the legislature ostensibly intended, and the unelected State Board of Education was exerting authorities under the law no one – again ostensibly – thought they had, the legislature did absolutely NOTHING to correct the situation.

They just shrug their shoulders and say, we didn’t do this! But, yes they did.

Let’s not fall for this again.

– Rob Roper is on the Board of Directors of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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4 replies »

  1. Perhaps, Rep. Scot Campbell can tell the citizens of Vermont why he voted for the Clean Heat Standard after previously admitting Vermont cannot cannot stop or even affect climate change……..Remember, Rep. Campbell sat on the House Energy and Technology Committee when all the testimony was presented on the Global Warming Solutions Act……Testimony leading him to believe that Vermont cannot stop or even affect climate change.

    Rob Roper has repeatedly pointed out Rep. Campbell’s comments in his commentaries, which make Vermonters wonder if our legislators have any idea of what they’re doing in pushing more and more mandates that will have no impact on climate change…..Mandates that will have economically crushing consequences on all Vermonter’s.

    Can Rep. Campbell or any other legislator who voted for the Clean Heat Standard and other related legislation can tell us how they will make lives more affordable, life better or mitigate climate change in any measurable way.

    Please, will the 96 legislators who voted for the Clean Heat standard speak to the people of Vermont in this space on how this bill will help?

    All members of the Vermont media must question those legislators who vote for climate change actions to explain the reasoning behind their votes……This includes all Vermont media going beyond VDC and TNR to include: VTDigger. Seven Days, VPR, all the Vermont TV stations and other media.

  2. The worst piece of public policy legislation in Vermont history. As if the state needed another nail in the coffin.

  3. The headline of this article shouts out ” Legislature ducks accountability for disastrous energy bill”……And that’s putting if mildly.

    Last night (3/18/22) on Vermont’s PBS show, Vermont this Week, the issue of whether or not the Clean Heat Standard is going to reduce the cost of fossil fuels was front and center. Rep. Tim Briglin, Chairman of the House Energy & Technology Committee had this to say about the Clean Heat Standard Bill:

    ” This is the first step in helping Vermonters reduce reliance on fossil fuels, it is also a first step in helping Vermont reduce fossil fuels and determine how we’re going to get the money.”

    And that’s all Briglin had to say. He said nothing about the cost, benefits or what the controversial Clean Heat Standard would actually do to mitigate climate change……Briglin said nothing!

    It’s worth noting that Tim Briglin is a smart guy. He graduated from Cornell, has an MBA from Standard University and a long career in the investment business. A career that requires sharp focus on cost/benefit analysis and return on investment. Briglin has essentially spent his entire adult career focusing what the return on investment will be before making a decision.

    In the case of the Clean Heat Standard, Briglin has abandoned the lessons of his MBA education and a long investment career while working on the biggest deal of his life and instead has fallen prey to climate change ideology delivered by activists and renewable energy interests.

    Briglin has failed to cite any hard numbers related to cost, benefits or return on investment to justify passing the Clean Heat Standard out of his committee…….All he can say is ” This is a first step in helping Vermonters reduce reliance on fossil fuels……..”

    It’s doubtful that Briglin’s effort, as in this case, would pass muster before any rational investment committee asked to approve an investment of such magnitude…….A rational investment committee would reject the plan…….While a legislative committee would duck accountability and move the bill as has happened with the Clean Heat Standard.

    This is not an investment the people of Vermont want or can afford……..And what makes it even worse? It will do nothing to stop or even affect climate change.

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