Roper: Vermont Climate Council is unraveling

“Now there is a palpable frustration growing between the more idealistic Climate Council committee members who are eager to put forward concrete proposals to meet the mandates and the more politically oriented members who are trying to keep things vague because they know the second those kinds of details come out the public will reject them.”

By Rob Roper

The mood at recent Vermont Climate Council committee meetings is bleak as the folks tasked by the legislature to come up with a plan to meet the greenhouse gas reduction mandates of their Global Warming Solutions Act do not have one.

It’s not entirely their fault. The task is and always was politically and logistically impossible. The whole thing has echoes of the legislature passing a law to deliver a single payer healthcare system before looking at the details of what it would cost and what it would take. When the public finally saw the price tag, dreams of single payer very quickly evaporated.

Now there is a palpable frustration growing between the more idealistic Climate Council committee members who are eager to put forward concrete proposals to meet the mandates and the more politically oriented members who are trying to keep things vague because they know the second those kinds of details come out the public will reject them.

Such an exchange took place at the August 29 Transportation Task Group meeting when Gina Campoli asked about providing an estimate of how much money the state would need to raise for just one program and where the money would come from. “For example,” said Campoli, “We need X amount of incentives and X amount of charging infrastructure. We’re spending X amount now. Then there’s a gap… to get to the numbers of electric vehicles that are necessary. This would be the easiest calculation. It’s going to require a certain investment on the part of the state both to underwrite the incentives and the cost of the infrastructure…. What’s the gap to get to the numbers we need?”

An easy calculation that any reasonable person would expect to be a top priority for any action plan, and one that shouldn’t take nearly two years and counting to answer. This unwillingness to face fiscal facts is the reason Governor Scott vetoed the Council’s Clean Heat Standard recommendation.

Jane Lazorchak, the Global Warming Solutions Act Project Director, deflected Campoli’s question, hinting that it’s okay to discuss spending federal money, but not money Vermont will have to raise ourselves. “The kinds of questions you’re diving into, Gina, are like bigger funding issue and where are there gaps and state funding needed, like weatherization is a great example. We’re floating the boat with federal dollars, but there’s going to be a cliff, so how are we going to pay for that long term?”

Yes, how? And how big exactly is that cliff you’ve put us on track to go over?

Campoli offers a rundown, including increasing Vermont’s electric vehicle fleet from 5000 to 126,000 and weatherizing 90,000 homes, “not to mention bike, ped, and transit, and all that stuff…. There are big long-term needs, ongoing, present, and future. I mean, if we think we can just put $50,000 in here and $100,000 in there and mission accomplished, we’re kidding ourselves. It’s going to be major.”

Major indeed. And new taxes on motor and home heating fuels to cover that number, which what the Council is discussing in one form or another, will be major unpopular.

But this “don’t ask for details, don’t tell costs” attitude is clearly unsatisfying to Council members who think asking and telling should be a celebrated part of the process. It’s the reason they signed up. Months passing without meaningful debate over substantive ideas led Sebbi Wu, a VPIRG employee who serves as liaison between the Just Transitions Committee and the Transportation Task Group, to ask with visible disillusionment, “Where are the specifics?”

From the other side, the frustration stems from logistical realities. As Lazorchak admits in a moment of candor, “We’ve been circling in on ‘cap and invest”, “cap and reduce’, or a ‘performance standard.’ But we don’t have—well, 1) TCI, which is probably not coming back online in our timeline of joining that in a year…. There’s just this practical nature of like Vermont cannot afford to stand up a performance standard on our own. Administratively it would be impossible. So, there’s also this component of analysis to happen around, like, How are we gonna – I just – I don’t even know. That’s where my head starts to spin. If no other New England state is really looking at this right now, how do we say we’re going to adopt one in 2024?… It’s so hard because we’re really just not capable of doing much on our own.”

So, no revenue, no interested partners, no logistical capability, no ideas, and no public support. Perhaps this is why a number of key legislative-appointee Council members are asking not to return when their terms are up next month. These folks are fleeing the sinking ship, but the taxpayers are trapped down in the hold, and we are being set up to waste a “major” amount of taxpayer dollars for “not doing much”.

The author is a member of the Ethan Allen Institute board of directors. He lives in Stowe.

Categories: Commentary

12 replies »

  1. Lots of people saw this disaster coming. The logistical impossibilities of this plan include not having the labor force to make it happen. The most practical solution is for the government to get out of this racket and let the taxpayers of Vermont keep their own money and use it to weatherize their own homes.

  2. We’re faced with a legislative culture that sees what’s good for us and then proceeds to execute their vision without any look to our re-validation on the issue at hand. Office holders seeking the common good on the presumption that they know what’s good for us…isn’t that definition of RULING? We’re condemned to being subjugated by our own voting choices…this is not the self governing roles envisioned in the ideals of our founding.

    • The best thing that could happen to the “Climate Council” would be for it to be filed in the circular file. Let the people decide if and/or how fast we need to convert to supposed “green” alternatives. In the mean time work out the details, as there is plenty to work out.

  3. Who’s going to be able to afford all these electric vehicles, anyway? Not me. I know I don’t have $50k+ or even $40k for any kind of vehicle.

    Look – In 1985 I bought a brand-new Chevy Cavalier. Cost about $7200 I believe. Out of the box that car got 40+ MPG city/highway combined. The only time it went under 40 MPG was in a cold winter when I had to spend an unusual amount of time warming it up because the temp was -20F for a week.

    Are you trying to tell me we’ve lost the technology we had nearly 40 years ago with gasoline engines? Not to mention we’ve lost 25% of that in even the most fuel-efficient gasoline powered vehicles?

    Use your brains, folks! This isn’t rocket science. It’s just the Green New Scam.

    I suggest getting the Tahoes, Suburbans, and all the other land barges off the road and put in a 40 MPG minimum law on ALL new vehicles. Just think of how much gasoline we’d save… not that that’s the real goal anyway.

    • The real goal is for the government to control when you can go somewhere. They are also working on controling what you eat, where you live, what you can say, temperature of your living space, what you buy, how many kids you have, your right to protect yourself, how long you live, etc. Time to squish the global swamp bugs

      • EXACTLY!!! Not to mention what you can grow in your own vegetable garden, IF they allow you to grow anything.

  4. The globalist agenda is failing – Hallelujah! Considering the failure of alternative energy in Europe. Considering the failure of California and Colorado being exposed for attempting to control your thermastat or charge an EV. The exposure of lies and deceit is crushing their agenda on a daily basis. Praise God! Isaih 28:3-13 He has them unraveling in the confused delusion of their drunkenness.

  5. Aside from the political/ideological motivations for all these insane policies, one has to ponder how can these politicians and board members pack so much stupid into their plans. I’ll give two of them credit for asking where all this money is coming from. Beyond that, there’s a lot of head scratching going on and some of the rats are looking for the escape hatch. The best way to ensure this doesn’t get a reboot is to vote wisely and remove the rulers to replace them with representatives to aid Vermonters, not punish them for living!

  6. Thanks to Rob Roper and the Daily Chronicle for keeping a close eye on this. As Mr. Roper says, “So, no revenue, no interested partners, no logistical capability, no ideas, and no public support.” May I add: Even with revenue, partners, logistics and ideas – NO IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT (except perhaps more open spaces as Vermonter move elsewhere)! Here’s the cost-benefit analysis – Cost: off the charts. Benefit: Zero.

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