Smith: Legislature taken over by Climate Cult

Driven by apocalyptic fears about fossil fuel emissions

by Annette Smith

Someone has to say it:  Vermont’s legislature has been taken over by a religious cult.  No longer the representatives of all Vermonters, the statehouse is populated by a climate claque whose only villain is carbon emissions.  Nothing else matters to these true believers.  They are driven by the fear that if the monster of fossil fuel emissions is not vanquished, the world will end.

This single-mindedness has been codified in the Global Warming Solutions Act, which has only one mandate: reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  It created the Climate Council, whose majority is appointed by House and Senate leadership. 

With no guidance to assure representation from all parts of Vermont, the result is an elite group of mostly well-off people from the ‘Burlington to Montpelier bubble’ along I-89, with a couple of outliers near I-91.  Only two of the 23 Climate Councilors live in towns with a high energy burden (both are Administration appointees) while 21 live in towns with low energy burdens.  Nobody on the Climate Council is from the Northeast Kingdom, southwestern Vermont, or any of the towns with the highest energy burden. 

No worries, though, because the Climate Council is required to assure a “Just Transition” – social equity will be part of the solutions they recommend.  

That’s not how the Council’s most prominent recommendation, the Clean Heat Standard, is playing out in the Senate Natural Resources and Energy committee, where the discussion has degenerated into an embarrassing display of callous disregard for Vermont’s low- and moderate-income populations. 

The first sign that the cult had taken over the political arena came with the attack on Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore and her effort to do the impossible: figure out what the Clean Heat Standard might cost.  Impossible because S.5, the bill now renamed the Affordable Heat Act, has so many variables it defies rational analysis.  

Sec. Moore’s honest attempt to provide the committee with an estimated cost was immediately reacted to by Jared Duval, the seemingly self-anointed King of the Climate Council who has been given hours of time before the committee while other witnesses are crammed into a few minutes.  Duval called Sec. Moore’s analysis “inappropriately selective, improperly done and deeply misleading.” 

Duval’s attack on Sec. Moore was unexpected.  I logged countless hours monitoring Climate Council meetings, including the many subcommittees, and observed that the Administration appointees who are mandated to participate in the Climate Council are “all in” on meeting the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act.  

Given that they work for a Republican governor, one might expect some foot dragging – but that is not what I’ve observed.  One time, administration appointees objected to a specific action that undercut ongoing work being done by state agencies; a life cycle analysis that will take much of this year to complete.  As they are in the minority, they were overruled by the House and Senate appointees.  

But because politics, not science or accounting, is in control, Sec. Moore’s good faith effort to expose the very large up-front costs of S.5 was met with disparagement from the committee chair.  King Jared’s modeling showing there would be a net savings does not address the fact that installing a $5000 heat pump with a 75% subsidy still requires the homeowner to come up with $1250, and that on-bill financing offered for weatherization will add to already-burdensome debt loads, especially for low-income Vermonters. 

The kicker came when the author of the Clean Heat Standard, Richard Cowart, who serves on the Climate Council while simultaneously marketing the Clean Heat Standard to other states (his Regulatory Assistance Project got a $200,000 contract to sell it to Massachusetts) told the Senate committee that meeting Vermont’s emissions reduction mandate is incompatible with social equity. Never mind that the overriding principle that is supposed to guide the Climate Council’s work is a “Just Transition.” 

Richard Cowart has had other big ideas for Vermont energy consumers.  As Chair of the Public Service Board in the 1990s, Cowart actively advocated for deregulation of the utility sector in advance of the Public Service Board hearing testimony on the concept.  

Fortunately, House Speaker Mike Obuchowski stopped Vermont from deregulating, but many states did restructure their electric utilities. The result:  customers now pay more for electricity in those deregulated states. 

Like electricity deregulation, the attempt to force wholesale fuel dealers to buy or create credits will raise costs for Vermonters.  It is a bad idea that needs to die.  Vermont has real problems as a result of the changing climate that we need to address.  Solutions are best focused on reducing consumption, weatherization, resiliency, agricultural practices, protecting biodiversity, and an equitable process for locally distributed renewable energy that serves our communities. 

The author is a Danby resident and executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment.

Categories: Commentary

22 replies »

  1. So how do we unite to kill this monstrosity? A petition on, a class action lawsuit, a demonstration at the State House? The cult ignores letters, phone calls and social media protest. Got any ideas?

    • This economy-killer situation is entirely reversible but it requires the majority of voters in Vermont to embrace facts over feewings. I can understand some peoples’ desire to virtue signal publicly, but to do so in the privacy and anonymity of the voting booth is bizarre behavior. I have to assume that some people who now vote by mail think their votes are attributed to them personally by some prying eyes and are afraid to vote in a manner that may have people talking ill of them behind their backs. That has to be part of the strategy by the marxist element of our governance for instituting permanent vote-by-mail in VT.

      • Mom votes for the whole family now with mail-in. Underreported issue in 2020 with anti-Trump hysteria. Wife insists on handling votes for husband, and kids if possible. Husband no longer has option of quietly voting smart in the booth and keeping peace in the house. Many studies show that left / right is now essentially feelings / facts, marxist / meritocratist… or really, in general… women / men.

  2. The Al Gore Climate mob and the trans mafia are not interested in discussion, it is their way or as St. Michael would say ” battle “

    • It’s the same now as it was then. A communist push to topple our way of life.

      Just another generation went by with more indoctrination, more TV programming eroding the values, morals and the religion that was left, all combined with a heavily medicated culture who’s been convinced that all conflict must be avoided at all times.

  3. The insane Climate Cult and their Transgender co-religionists will eventually crash and burn themselves out. The problem is, they will take all of Vermont down with them.

  4. liberal democrats finding more ways to make my life more costly without any real benefit or improvement. Why wont they just go away or mind their own business. The world will still survive without them, probably much better.

  5. Well done Annette. Thanks for pointing out that there is only a few psychopaths trying to create this evil empire that hurst the innocent citizens of Vermont. The opposition in Maine has turned things around next door. We can do this and more. People need to realize that only Vermont and Texas can legally succeed from this woke madness being controlled by a handful of bernieidiots and not natives like us. We are the ones who are conscious. There is nothing to be afraid of today. We can begin with the town meetings by showing up and simply saying NO. Those are 3 powerful letters in English, French, and Spanish ( for illegals streaming across our border coming to Burlington and Montpelier).
    Here’s to the once and future Republic of Vermont.

    • Certainly do. He also had to deal with an arrogant super-majority legislature full of hubris- and peter shumlin as senate pro tempore. For those that forgot, Douglas’ budget veto was overridden for more spending, we got shumlin and 200+ million dollars spent to start healthcare ‘exchange’ ,figure out single payer couldn’t work….
      History repeating itself with the incessant demand to carbon tax Vermont…

  6. Can’t wait. Can set on their worthless backbends in Montpelier all they want, can’t wait to watch em try and enforce them. They haven’t enforced any laws they have put in in the last 10 years. Democrat Nut jobs. Do they realize how many people are gonna be unemployed when the put in the 12 weeks paid leave. Companies are already talking about leaving By. Some real cleaver ones. Oh yeah that’s right always for the little guy😂😂😂🤣🤣

  7. Climitard – ’klimit’tard/ A person that believes the climate can be changed by paying a CO2 tax to the government.

  8. “The end of the world is nigh!”

    It’s an ancient claim, oft repeated.

    Pretty sure that Biden and his Neocon handlers, toying with Putin, are much, much more likely to ruin the planet than tiny, carbon-neutral, hippy-dippy Vermont, but hey, Slava Ukraini, amirite?

    • What about the Ohio toxic derailment? Has the Vermont media opined on how Vermont can save Ohio or any other toxic landfill or dump. How long will it take to recover from that spill and Pete Buttplug and Joe the big guy ignored it until the people spoke up. FEMA denied assistance until President Trump joined with others to deliver bottled water to the region. The people of Vermont need to speak up. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Have we forgotten who we are?

      • The leftist Vermonters don’t care because that part of Ohio is thoroughly red & Trump supporting, and acknowledging the environmental devastation would mean accepting responsibility for the Biden administration’s comprehensive platform of malevolent negligence. If it had happened in a blue zone, or under a non-statist / leftist administration, all we’d be hearing about is how some of that plume might have even contaminated Vermont. But they will turn a blind eye to that as well, because they are entirely possessed by partisan emotionalism.

  9. Let’s put it right out there shall we. The progressive “leaders” in Vermont are doing nothing more than replacing the oil and gas titans, with their titan friends in the so-called renewable energy field.

  10. Thank you Annette. So many have given testimony or written on this bill, S.5. Now it’s time for all of us to speak to the legislature. Take action. Do it today!

  11. Vermont Republicans should be proud of the bills their legislators are advancing, which they indirectly voted for by running candidates that stood for something. Instead of being resentful, they should happily accept the new taxes, the new gun laws, and the further deterioration of their schools. At least we stood for something and now we stand on the steps of the Capitol peering in through the windows.

  12. There is a climate problem, etc. However the methods proposed for dealing with it exacerbate the problem.
    Children in Africa are dying in order to provide materials for solar panels.

  13. It’s kind of you to call them a religious cult, because this is what a Godless (or goddess-less) government looks like. Apparently, they despise independent women: single women, widows, single moms, the disabled, and the poor. But I think the deeper backstory is twofold: 1). This is a Soviet-style collective punishment of the Northeast Kingdom for refusing any more industrial wind, probably backed by the usual suspect(s); and 2.) It is an attack on our (local) food supply, as is happening in so many instances around the country. Many Vermont farmers cannot go on, given the rising prices of diesel and gas. Add a huge carbon tax, and they will shut down all the sooner.

    Also, I can’t help recollecting how real leaders care for ALL the people. Back in the day, my cousin Governor Walsh named Boston Mayor James Michael Curley “The Mayor of the Poor.” For all his faults, that is what Curley was. And so, by the power vested in me as (exiled) Princess of Massachusetts, I dub these ill-counseled rulers and their shill counselors “The Slayers of the Poor.”