People should be helped to transition to electric heat, not punished, Scott says
by Guy Page
Gov. Phil Scott Friday announced his veto of S.5, the so-called Affordable Heating Act. An attempted veto override by the Legislature is virtually guaranteed.
S.5 would transition heating Vermont buildings away from market-based fossil fuels and to a state-regulated electrification. It would be paid for largely by carbon taxes assessed on wholesale fuel dealers.
A veto session is reportedly set for June 20. A spokesperson for House Speaker Jill Krowinski said in media reports he’s confident there are 100 votes to override. The final roll call vote on S.5 was 98-46.
Vermonters wishing to contact lawmakers may find contact information here.
Governor Phil Scott Friday issued the following statement:
“From the start of this conversation, I have clearly, and repeatedly, said I agree we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, including in the thermal sector. However, I strongly believe the right approach is to help people make the transition, not financially punish those who cannot afford to do so.
“Unfortunately, the Super Majority in the Legislature decided to take a completely different approach by giving an unelected commission, the Public Utility Commission (PUC), the power to design and adopt a system — without guaranteeing the details and costs will be debated transparently through the normal legislative process, in full view of their constituents.
“For these reasons and more, I will veto S.5, and I’m asking Vermonters, even the many who have already contacted their legislators, to make their voices heard and ask their representatives and senators to sustain this veto.
“When I resisted the Legislature’s original approach to the bill, they inserted a ‘check back’ provision, saying it satisfied my concerns. It does not. Some claimed the bill is essentially a study. It is not.
“As recently as Thursday’s debate on the Senate floor, Senators from both parties have called the check back in the bill contradictory and confusing. Even Democratic senators who voted for the bill acknowledged the check back is a ‘leap of faith,’ meaning a future Legislature could interpret the language much differently and only pass legislation that rubber stamps the rules and insulates themselves from the tough policy conversations, including details and costs. I believe it is irresponsible to move forward on a policy with such enormous consequences based on a ‘leap of faith.’
“Contrary to the claims of some of the bill’s proponents, components of this program will begin implementation as early as this July – long before the legislative check back in 2025. Over, and over again, I have said if the Legislature truly intended for this policy to be transparently debated in a future legislative session, it would be crystal clear, in plain language, and there wouldn’t be this much confusion and contradiction.
“This is not the kind of government Vermonters expect or deserve. But I will continue to stand up for them.”