By Guy Page
H552 is a 50-page low-carbon transportation funding and regulatory wish list sponsored by 61 lawmakers, including five members of the House Transportation Committee. To reduce transportation carbon emissions, it would:
Fund zero-fare public transit in fiscal year 2023. Free bus fares began during 2020, supposedly as a pandemic response for financially-strapped Vermonters.
Require employers who provide employee parking to have Level 2 charging stations for six percent of parking spaces. Grant funding would be available.
Require some employers to have plans to reduce carbon emissions of commuting drivers.
Provide grant funding for non-profit housing to install level 2 charging stations.
Prohibit bicyclists from riding abreast in most instances (part of a bike safety measure)
Require the State update prior commuter rail feasibility studies
Charge a feebate to gas guzzlers and pass along the proceeds to fuel-efficient drivers. Or in H552’s words, it would “implement a self-funded feebate program based on pleasure car efficiency.”
The schedule of rebates and feebates would be set and overseen by a newly-created Efficiency Fees and Rebates Task Force. The seven-member appointed board would make recommendations “consistent with the Climate Action Plan.”
For example, light trucks of 16 MPG or less would pay a $500 “efficiency fee” or feebate. Light trucks of 26 MPG or better would receive a $950 rebate. Passenger vehicles and SUVs would have similar incentives.
Provide funding for a lengthy list of programs, including support for emissions repair, electric bikes, and zero-carbon schoolbuses and public transit buses.
‘Pleasure car’ is the State of Vermont term for the single-passenger car you drive to and from work. Feebates are the opposite of rebates – they take from the gas guzzlers and refund money to the fuel-efficient drivers.
“Feebate systems are one of the best available policy options to reduce passenger car emissions,” the International Council on Clean Transportation says. “Feebate systems impose a fee on vehicles with high CO2 emissions or fuel consumption (i.e., low fuel economy) and provide a rebate to vehicles with low CO2 emissions or fuel consumption (i.e., high fuel economy).”
The five Transportation Committee co-sponsors are Reps. John Bartholomew, Mollie Burke, Curtis McCormack, Gabrielle Stebbins, and Rebecca White. No Republicans signed on as co-sponsors.