State Headliners: Plan for stealth carbon tax enters Phase 3 today

By Guy Page

Even as Vermont legislative leaders and our governor insist they have no plans to push a carbon tax, the state of Vermont is participating in a multi-state initiative that will almost certainly by this December recommend a carbon tax on transportation fuels.

Vermont’s participation in the Transportation and Climate Initiative has been active since at least 2018 and has buy-in from all three branches of Vermont State Government: explicit support from the Legislature and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), and strong implicit encouragement from the chair of the Vermont Public Utilities Commission, the state’s “energy court.”

Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, and Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont.

The northeastern state Transportation and Climate Initiative, facilitated by the Georgetown Climate Center, describes itself as “a regional low-carbon transportation policy proposal that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism.” … [and]… to complete the policy development process within one year, after which each jurisdiction will decide whether to adopt and implement the policy.”

Phase 3 of the plan — state officials’ review of stakeholder and expert comment — begins today and runs through November. The TCI website says that in Phase 3, “TCI state leadership reviews input from stakeholders and expert analysis to develop specific regional policy options to share with the public, inviting feedback.” Final plan details will be announced in December, allowing each state to decide by 2020 whether to participate.

Illustrated by a photo of two charging electric cars, The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources – TCI website page  outlines the planning process:

1. By end of 2019: complete and publicly release a policy proposal​.
2. By end of 2020 (if VT concurs): Vermont General Assembly enacts enabling legislation and begins to explore potential investment scenarios​.

In plain English, Vermont transportation fuel dealers (and the drivers who buy their gasoline and diesel fuel) will pay for exceeding an arbitrary “cap” which will get smaller every year. It’s supposed to “incentivize” drivers to buy less gas/diesel and maybe buy a TCI-subsidized electric car instead. But whether they do or they don’t, the State of Vermont will get a big chunk of change from TCI that it can spend on car charging stations, EV subsidies, etc.

The ANR website compares TCI to another regional cap and trade system in which Vermont participates, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which every year pumps a million or so dollars into state coffers. But that comparison has a fatal flaw: Vermont pays virtually nothing into RGGI because we have virtually no fossil-fuel producing electricity power plants.

In other words, RGGI is all gravy for Vermont. Not so the TCI, because Vermont has hundreds of thousands of carbon-emitting tailpipes attached to cars and trucks, many of them driven by rural Vermonters who need them to get to work, school and stores. Vermont is a big RGGI winner and a terrible TCI loser. We are a high-carbon emitting state for the transportation sector. In the picturesque words of one Vermont state senator, under TCI Vermont will be one of the states that “carries the bricks.”

The Vermont Legislature in the 2019 Transportation Bill (Act 59) authorized ANR to participate in TCI planning: “This act, through the spending authorization for the Policy and Planning Program, supports staff work in collaboration with the Agency of Natural Resources to negotiate the Transportation and Climate Initiative agreement with other participating jurisdictions. TCI jurisdictions are negotiating a regional low-carbon transportation policy proposal that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism and allow each TCI jurisdiction to invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure.”

The TCI plan to spend carbon tax proceeds on “low-carbon transportation infrastructure” should make it an easy sell to PUC chair Anthony Roisman, who on the July 8 Dave Gram Show plugged a July 1 PUC report boosting electric vehicles and urged Vermont to a “war-time footing.” Fair warning from the PUC chair: Vermonters, get ready to sacrifice.

Except for State House Headliners, news coverage of Vermont participation in the TCI has been almost non-existent. The irrepressible John McClaughry blogged about it for the Ethan Allen Institute (Jan. 2 “Here Comes the Carbon Tax Again”). A lengthy July 4 story in Vermont Business Magazine on the virtues of carbon “cap and invest” gave TCI a single paragraph. A VTDigger reporter covered a December 2018 TCI announcement but its news team apparently hasn’t touched the issue since. VPR and Seven Days search engines shows zero hits for news about “TCI Transportation Climate Initiative.” In fact the most recent news about Vermont and the TCI appears in the July 30 American Journal of Transportation, a national trade journal.

Perhaps the shortage of news coverage is just a matter of timing. TCI requires every state to hold a public input meeting. Vermont scheduled and held its meeting on May 14, at the National Life building. The Power Point agenda although not the minutes are available on the ANR/TCI web page. What else was happening on May 14? Not much except the House of Representatives was scheduled to debate bills on the $15 minimum wage and gun control. So if the press was chasing a sexier story, it’s not ANR’s fault.

It’s still not too late to comment on the TCI – there’s an online comment portal. For more information on Vermont carbon taxation in general and to connect with anti-carbon tax activists, go to the No Carbon Tax Vermont Facebook page.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources

13 thoughts on “State Headliners: Plan for stealth carbon tax enters Phase 3 today

  1. I was going to add my comments to the TCI page but it appears almost all of the comments are from one or another “Climate Lobby” group. This looks like another rigged system trying to get more funding. More taxes from us and the money goes of to never never land…

  2. I guess Vermont is not only the spear tip for socialism but the stooge for the United Nations and agenda 21, that’s some major astro turfing.

  3. if you have two options when you buy a car, one gets 50mpg and the other 25 mpg, they are pretty much the same, which one do you choose?

    you have two homes, one costs $500 to heat for the year the other costs $5,000 to heat for the year, which one do you choose?

    Do you need a carbon tax to make these decisions?

    Is there a conservative or republican on the planet who wouldn’t choose the greener option? Nope!

    Vermont only needs to make available these options and people will choose correctly, they are doing it already. Carbon Taxation’s sole purpose is to flip the society to a socialist format, with all the fuels, money redistribution and state run health care, etc. we might as well go full soviet union, they’ll have all our money anyway.

    Carbon Taxation has a much to do with a clean environment as
    Eating Twinkies has with losing weight.

  4. None of the information on the linked websites give us a clue as to what this will cost individuals who have to drive to the store, to work, heat their homes, and can’t buy a EV because just like Thomas Edison found a 100 years ago, the technology just isn’t practicable.

  5. I want them to end all jet travel into and out of Vermont for starters. If the object is to limit CO2, that is a best starting point.

  6. With several auto makers experimenting with EVs, one has to wonder if the charging ports on these vehicles will be compatible with all new charging stations currently being installed.Tesla’s efforts for example. Also will the charge at home units be able to accommodate several brands if an owner changes make? Have not heard any dialogue addressing this detail.

    • Good point, you have metric spec cars from Europe and SAE inches in the US. But the topper is this is all being decided by braindead leftards who destroy everything they touch, control.. You can count on it being a total mess and them being exempt from having to use EV.

  7. There is an event going on in Burlington as of this writing; named: “Festival of Fools”.

    Just wait until January of 2020, and the recessed version of this event will take place in the Vermont Legislature, and more than likely run until May, whether we need it to or not.
    This no-carbon non-sense is a huge farce, another way to re-distribute wealth, and the heavy hand of government is forcing this non-sense on towns via forcing them to adopt Energy Plans which are written by the knowitalls in the Head Shed (Montpeculiar) . Some towns are balking, all should be, For this has implications that in time will go way beyond energy plans. The content of the plan is misguided as well as the process. Everyone should read it : Comprehensive Energy Plan.
    The road map to much trouble ahead.

  8. Whats going to happen when the moderate income and low income people can’t find
    a good cheap used car to replace their worn out used car.. Their not going to be able to buy used toy battery cars as they will need $15,000 to replace the batteries on top of the cost of the overpriced toy car. Is the state, like the idiot AOC, going to pay them to stay home and not work??? This whole plug in world they want is a ASSAULT on the average and low income citizens to say nothing of the destruction of our national power grid. No Nukes, No Coal, No Gas, No Diesel = NO ELECTRICITY. No or not enough Electricity means no Economy..

  9. After years of involvement, concern for the environment, and diligent scrutiny, I have decided that this climate change discussion is far overblown, fraught with issues, and infested with special interests an scaliwags. A carbon tax if you do some research is counterproductive, does not serve any remote purpose, and unfortunately backed by people who have either done no research or by people who know exactly what they are doing!.

  10. What a joke, just another way to pork the average working taxpayer for foolishness
    stop all the subsidies and watch what happens !!

    These foolish Legislators think they can save the world, Hell they can’t even save the
    state from Debt, Drugs & Taxation…….shameful, but we all know they have no SHAME.

    To all the flannel shirt Vermonters when you see one of these Vehicles struggling this
    winter, don’t forget to give them a toot when you drive by …………

    To all legislators voting this nonsense in, you better be driving full electric vehicles
    or well …….you understand.

  11. I can’t hear the word “Democrat” without thinking “Regressive taxation.” No legislator who pushes electric vehicles should be allowed to possess or utilize any carbon fueled personal vehicle. When state vehicles and police cars reach the end of their service life are they replaced with battery powered cars? Why not?

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