State of Vermont advertises for permanent bureaucrats to plan, implement S.5

by Rob Roper

When the legislature passed S.5 into law, “standing up” the Clean Heat Standard program, they appropriated funds to hire six full-time bureaucrats to… do what exactly? The Democrats who voted for the bill defend their unpopular decision by insisting S.5 is “just a study.” Nothing that will eventually cause your home heating fuel bill to spike an extra $0.70 to $4.00 per gallon as best estimates say it will.

This party line talking point was again stubbornly put forward by Manchester Representatives Kathleen James (D), and Seth Bongartz (D) in a recent op-ed. To hear them tell it, “So instead of putting this program into place, S.5 commits the state to an intensive two-year fact-finding and design process. We’ll get the facts through impartial studies and draft the rules that would govern the proposed program. All of this information will come back to the legislature in 2025 to consider next steps.”

The Republicans who voted against the bill, including Governor Scott who vetoed it, argue, no, S.5 is not just a study. It immediately puts the Clean Heat Standard into law. Regardless of how the legislature votes in 2025 on the rules governing the program, the program will remain in place as the law of the land (unless, as is possible for any law, it is actively repealed.) So, who’s telling the truth?

Well, the first classified ad appeared on the Public Utilities Commission’s website seeking to fill its three newly authorized by S.5 Clean Heat Standard related positions: “one permanent staff attorney, one permanent analyst, and one limited-service (up to three years) analyst.” (The other three positions created for CHS work are in the Department of Public Service.)

Hmmm… Why is the PUC hiring two permanent employees and another to a three-year contract in order to perform just a study that’s due in eighteen months? Seems odd, no?

What will these folks be doing?

“All three new positions will focus on designing and implementing Vermont’s Clean Heat Standard. This is a performance-based standard recommended by the Vermont Climate Council, and recently enacted by the Vermont Legislature, that is intended to achieve Vermont’s thermal sector greenhouse-gas-emissions reductions necessary to meet the requirements of the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020.” (Emphasis added.)

“Designing and implementing.” Not studying. Not fact finding. Implementing…. What else does the PUC say these jobs will entail?

“The recently enacted S. 5 requires the establishment of a “clean heat credit” evaluation program, a technical advisory group, an equity advisory group, a credit tracking and trading system, and a registration system.” (Emphasis added.)

“Requires the establishment” of all these elements of the program. Again, not just study. Not just design. The establishment.

The job description wraps up:

“Specific duties of the positions include conducting public process regarding the Clean Heat Standard; researching how to establish a system of tradeable clean heat creditsestablishing a registration system and records requirements for obligated entities; reviewing filings related to the Clean Heat Standard; appointing and supervising one or more default delivery agents to provide statewide clean heat measures; developing program budgets; evaluating clean heat measure credit values; drafting proposed rules; representing the Commission at legislative committee hearings regarding the Clean Heat Standard; assisting in the development of Commission policies related to implementation and enforcement of the Clean Heat Standardand managing consultants assisting with the Clean Heat Standard.” (Emphasis added.)

So, just a study? Just a fact-finding mission? Next steps come later? No, S.5 is definitely not these things. Anybody who tells you different is not telling you the truth. Money talks, and this is what the state is going to pay people to do.

The con game taking place now is the majority party passed an unpopular program while perpetuating the fiction to their voters that they didn’t actually pass it. My prediction for 2025, when the vote on the final rules takes place, is that they will reverse themselves and tell their constituents that the Clean Heat Standard is already in place, and they are powerless to repeal it. The question is, will Vermonters pay close enough attention to recognize the first charade, and remember well enough see through the next one.

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  • Rob Roper is a freelance writer with over twenty years’ experience in Vermont politics and policy.

14 replies »

  1. This legislative session crossed the line from pretending to outright lies.
    It is now obvious that the legislative majority enjoys schadenfreude.

  2. If the Biden Admin can use prosecutorial discretion to ignore enforcement obligations of immigration laws, it seems to me that the Gov Scott could use executive discretion not to allocate enforcement resources toward collection or enforcement of carbon mandates under S5. If the unconstitutional panel wants to impose penalties on heating oil companies for failure to buy carbon credits, who is going to enforce the law if Gov Scott orders state police to stand down and focus on other, actual law enforcement?

    • Scott does not have control of the Vermont Attorney General’s office, a rabid marxist
      named charity clark does.
      The US Attorney General serves at the pleasure of the President, The Vermont AG is an elected position. The current AG, clark has already shown she follows the instructions of her masters, not her oath of office.
      Remember, this is a revenue source for state government as well as a means to control production and behavior. The CHS (S.5) is a law now, like it or not. It expands government- requires revenue to operate and has a negative impact on most of Vermont’s citizens. And anyone that uses energy to create heat in any form in Vermont cannot “Opt Out”. The perfect liberal/marxist program.

      • Clearly leftists are quite comfortable using their power. But I don’t think the US attorney is going to be enforcing state laws and I’d like to see how much Charity Clark can accomplish without any cooperation from the state police, the sheriffs offices or other law enforcement agencies in the state. It’s time for sensible people to start pushing back on tyrannical policies, especially those like S5 which will benefit only the careers and bank accounts of the politicians and their cronies. While you may be right that this is a revenue source for the government, my impression is that it’s not money into the general fund, so I believe the only programs that get deprived of funding if money isn’t collected would be those established by S5.

  3. Rob,

    I must be missing your point.

    Who did you think was going to design the program, draft the rules, conduct the fact finding and study the potential costs?

    We can’t just snap our fingers and have the completed work appear. We need the work to be done in order for the legislature and administration to make informed decisions in 2025.

    Magic thinking is not going to help protect Vermonters from the financial costs associated with the global energy transition that is already underway.

    Rep. Laura Sibilia

      • PS. In regard to your question, who did I think was going to do this work, per the GWSA:

        (a) On or before December 1, 2021, the Vermont Climate Council (Council) shall adopt the Vermont Climate Action Plan (Plan)….
        (b) The Plan shall set forth the specific initiatives, programs, and strategies, including regulatory and legislative changes, necessary to achieve the State’s
        greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements…

        So, I thought the Climate Council was tasked with this work. If not, what are we paying these clowns $2 million a year to do? I watch all their meetings, and I can tell you they aren’t doing much!

    • Hi Laura. Thanks for engaging. My point is that S.5 is not a “study bill.” If it were, it would look like the Rand Study that looked into universal childcare costs. They do the study, bring back their findings to the legislature, then and only then does the legislature craft a bill implementing a program — complete with rules, costs, funding sources, etc. fully explored — and pass it into law, or not. S.5 is not that, but that is how it was and is being sold to the public. That’s how it was sold to key senators to get it passed. This is dishonest. If a private company acted this way it would be considered fraud. That’s my point.

      With respect, the “magic thinking” is that this is fair, affordable, feasible, or will have any detectible impact on climate change — another dishonest selling point used to push this bill. (I know you have admitted this won’t do anything to impact climate change, but yours is a fairly lonely voice on this rather salient fact.)

      Thanks again for your comments. Happy to discuss any time.

    • Ms. sibilia’s comments are disingenuous at best. The definition of study, for the purpose regarding S.5 would be “a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation”.
      Drafting rules and designing the program- particularly by full time state employees doesn’t seem to fall into the above definition. But here we are, using all manner of different meanings for words to fulfill a narrative. Magic thinking, It appears is the norm from our legislators.
      In the final analysis, will the PSB report also indicate what ms.sibilia’s conclusion currently is? That S.5, the Clean Heat Standard will have no effect on climate change?

    • Re: “I must be missing your point.

      Who did you think was going to design the program, draft the rules, conduct the fact finding and study the potential costs?”

      Ms. Sibilia: I don’t know about Rob’s ‘point’… whether or not ‘these clowns’ are ‘doing much’.
      But you present another typical false dichotomy.

      The choice isn’t in what the legislature is doing, or what they’re not doing, or, as you put it, who Rob thinks they are. The unspoken alternative is whether or not they should be doing anything at all.

      Just because you can’t figure out how to successfully ‘snap your fingers’ or indulge in ‘magical thinking’ to address ‘the global energy transition’ doesn’t mean those are the only alternatives to your legislative meddling. Ironically, it appears that it is you and your colleagues who are the ones playing the irresponsible role of the sorcerer’s apprentice.

    • Seems to me the Legislature snapped their collective fingers and ramrodded a law through in record time. Above all, not the only ramrodded law to be pushed through at the record speed. What happened to the days that proposed legislation would take a few years tops to get through both chambers? The great lie and Vermont grift: “The Public Utility Commission is a three-member, quasi-judicial commission that supervises the rates, quality of service, and overall financial management of Vermont’s utilities: electric, natural gas, telecommunications, and private water companies. ” Considering utility rate hikes are the norm, service quality a fallacy, broadband fairytales since 2007, water (municipal and private) polluted and tainted with chemicals, and this commission justifies of budget of $4 million dollars – $3.5 million of it salary and “fringe benefits” alone. Of course, this figure doesn’t include the side hustles granted to them or the Legislature by the utility lobby. The politcal machine and their corporate sponsors are nothing but liars, deceivers, and theives. Playbook known.

  4. We are being abused. The question from us for anyone who seeks our vote is coming down to “what are you going to repeal?” Biggest list wins. That ought to make it simpler.

  5. nO inside info, But ISuspect the DEms and Progs are hoping fo have a full rollout by Gov. .Zuckerman in 2025.

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