Supporters of a new boycott against Vermont companies that support a carbon tax say three state legislators have conflicts of interest on energy policy because of their ties to SunCommon.
“How are Vermonters supposed to be heard when their legislature has conflicts of interest such as its relationship to SunCommon, the solar energy company based in Waterbury,” J.T. Dodge, of the grassroots group No Carbon TAX Vermont, told True North in a recent interview.
“We citizens should all take note that Rep. Michael McCarthy and Rep. Rebecca White were employees of SunCommon, and Rep. Katherine ‘Kari’ Dolan is married to Chach Curtis, CFO of SunCommon,” he said.
Dodge’s group is a vocal opponent of a carbon tax in Vermont. However, it supports electric vehicles and says climate change is real. The group has been growing through social media platforms such as Facebook.
“Working class Vermonters already struggle with the price of living here. Our group is against making their lives more challenging,” Dodge said.
Despite several efforts to reach Reps. McCarthy, White and Dolan, none of the legislators returned TNR’s requests for comment.
Angelo Napolitano, a No Carbon TAX Vermont activist from Moretown, says he’s not surprised legislators and business leaders involved in green legislation in Montpelier ignore journalists and citizens who question their insider influence.
“Something like 83 percent of hard-copy news and television news in Vermont is backed by far-left billionaire George Soros,” Napolitano told TNR. “So if Soros is giving the local mainstream media whatever (amount of money), legislators and businesses are going to ignore people like me.”
Dodge said he hopes the boycott calls attention to what he considers to be unethical practices in the capitol.
“Vermonters should be very suspect of the energy related bills moving through the House,” Dodge said. “The climate solutions being discussed at the Vermont Statehouse come off (as being) activist at best.”
The boycott, announced earlier this month, was spearheaded by VT802 Alliance and was quickly embraced by some members of No Carbon TAX Vermont.
“No Carbon TAX Vermont supports the boycott as certain business leaders promote and support carbon tax schemes like the ESSEX Plan, which include a carbon dioxide cap and trade component,” Dodge told TNR.
While both Vermont grassroots citizen-action groups have never joined forces on other statewide issues or candidate endorsements, they find themselves in agreement on a boycott against seven Vermont firms supporting the carbon tax.
John de Bruin, founder of VT802 Alliance and the prime organizer of the boycott, believes that “financial tax kickbacks and incentives” were made from the state to the seven companies named on the boycott list.
“I’m sure they were arranged by the same caucus group involved with pushing the carbon bills,” de Bruin told TNR last week. “ … I know for a fact that Rep. White is still listed as an employee of SunCommon. I checked the website yesterday. I would 100-percent guarantee there is a serious case of conflict here.”
However, while Dodge’s and de Bruin’s accusations may ring true to some, they are more difficult to prove. Some argue that lawmakers with links to “green” companies should recuse themselves on bills that may enrich the industry.
Dodge says the lawmakers are directly engaged in activities that benefit their industry.
“Kari (Dolan) has sponsored and co-sponsored carbon related bills such as H.18 and H.467, acts relating to siting jurisdictions over wind-powered electric generation,” he said. He also noted that Rep. White has been involved in crafting H.91, an act relating to a cap and trade program for greenhouse gas emissions caused by transportation, heating, and other energy use. He added that Rep. McCarthy was involved with crafting H.51, an act relating to restricting fossil-fuel infrastructure.
Last week, Dodge, Napolitano and several others involved with No Carbon TAX Vermont met privately with Gov. Phil Scott in his office to voice their concerns about the negative impacts of a carbon tax on all levels of the state’s economy.
“Governor Scott didn’t understand us at first,” Dodge told TNR. “He thought we are climate-change deniers and that we are against electric cars. We are neither. We believe in these things. We wanted to tell him about our plans for the state — that there are things we can do to lower our carbon footprint without such a draconian tax plan.”
According to Dodge, Vermont can start right away by giving consumers access to their home Smart Meter data so they can make their own energy use decisions throughout the day. This data would help residents save money and energy. He also recommends tree-planting to help sequester carbon.
“The common belief is that we need to tax citizens to deal with the carbon issue. Wrong. We don’t need to do it that way,” he said. “We’re also trying to fight the Vermont businesses supporting a carbon tax — the boycott is part of this. These companies have powerful brands and lots of money, (yet) their CEOs speak powerfully on how to tax us.”
Napolitano said the meeting with Scott was a good start to let the governor know citizens are overtaxed already. He also said Vermonters would likely sue over a carbon tax, should it be enacted.
“All this will eventually end up in the Vermont Supreme Court like the health insurance mandate and the gun ban,” he said. “The everyday Vermonter working two jobs has to pay Attorney General T.J. Donovan to defend the state’s side in the Supreme Court. … So any such state mandates coming down the pike mean that taxpayers will have to pay either way, whether they (mandates) are put into law or fought against, and thrown out, in the court.”
Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.