VT Energy Goals, Carbon Tax, and Climate Change: Examining priorities for VT Legislature in 2014

by Mathew Strong

Two seemingly unrelated but interesting things happened over the past two weeks while we were all holidaying. First, on Dec 16th, the Department of Public Service released a draft of the Total Energy Study on ways for Vermont to get to its 90% renewable energy goal by 2050, with a carbon tax being the likely course for this legislative term. Second, on Christmas Eve, an expedition to Antarctica to study the melting ice became trapped in… ice, and is still trapped, despite two ice breaking ships attempting to free them, although the passengers have now been rescued via helicopter.

While these things seem unrelated, they are in fact one and the same issue. Two more important things occurred this year. One was that more record low temperatures were recorded in the U.S. this year than record high temperatures, marking the 17th year without any warming of the planet. In another cooling trend, the other important thing Vermont was ranked dead last of all fifty states in Economic Outlook, with the 48th highest total tax burden (according to the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index of 2013).

“We are trying to explore a full range of scenarios to help inform what getting to 90 percent renewable by 2050 looks like,” Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia said in an article on VTDigger.com

According to Willem Post, a founding member of the Coalition for Energy Solutions and an engineer with 40 years’ experience specializing in energy efficiency for buildings and building systems, the DPS study is a “catch-all document that is presented as a starting point for discussion to get to 90% of ALL energy from mostly in-state renewables, not just electrical energy which is only 1/3 of all energy.”

“No state in the US has such a goal. Even rich Germany’s ENERGIEWENDE does not have such a goal. The 90% goal is beyond rational to this energy systems engineer (and similar engineers elsewhere) who has been in the business for over 4 decades” said Post in an email.

Vermonters enjoy the distinction of the 5th highest electricity rates in the country, beaten only by Hawaii, Alaska, New York, and Connecticut. A carbon tax would add to that burden.

Senators Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer proposed a nationwide carbon tax in 2013, as part of a bill known as the Climate Security Act. It would have created $3 Trillion in taxes by 2030 and according to The Heritage Foundation’s analysis, “the economic impacts would include (after adjusting for inflation):

  • A family of four losing more than $1,000 of income per year,
  • Over 400,000 lost jobs by 2016,
  • Coal production dropping by 60 percent and coal employment dropping by more than 40 percent by 2030,
  • Gasoline prices rising $0.20 by 2016 and $0.30 before 2030, and Electricity prices rising 20 percent by 2017 and more than 30 percent by 2030.”

While we aren’t too concerned about coal production in this state, the effects of a carbon tax, on top of our current economic outlook and tax burden would be yet another reason for businesses and taxpayers to move from or avoid moving to here. Vermont is currently capitalizing on horrific tax policy decisions in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois (www.howmoneywalks.com) as people flee those states for the relative tax haven here. Everything we do as a state should be to encourage this transfer, not stifle it.

While we all should do our part to conserve the limited resources encapsulated in our little sphere, doing more to incentivize efficiency and new technology may be a better solution than penalizing everyone, especially those who can’t afford it (the middle class and poorest will always bear the biggest burden of any tax or regulation as costs are transferred to customers). Removing taxpayer subsidies and taxes from all forms of energy will enable the marketplace to make more efficient decisions. Trying to pick winners and losers with taxpayer cash actually delays the inevitable shift. Put everyone on a level playing field and people with limited dollars in their pockets will always choose the most efficient, reliable sources of energy.

Global Climate Change science continues to shift, almost daily, as evidenced in this compilation below. The issue that is not changing is the fact that Vermont does not need another tax.

GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE AND RECENT WORLD NEWS COMPILATION

“IPCC SILENTLY SLASHES ITS GLOBAL WARMING PREDICTIONS”

“Unnoticed, the IPCC has slashed its global-warming predictions, implicitly rejecting the models on which it once so heavily and imprudently relied. In the second draft of the Fifth Assessment Report it had broadly agreed with the models that the world will warm by 0.4 to 1.0 Cº from 2016-2035 against 1986-2005. But in the final draft it quietly cut the 30-year projection to 0.3-0.7 Cº, saying the warming is more likely to be at the lower end of the range [equivalent to about 0.4 Cº over 30 years].

Five projections of global warming, 1990-2050, compared with the linear trends on two observed datasets. IPCC projections are mid-range estimates. The trend (green) on the HadCRUt4 monthly global mean surface temperature anomalies reflects the warming at 0.11 K decade–1 observed since 1950. The trend (dark green) on the RSS satellite data reflects the zero trend that has now persisted for more than 17 years. Both observed trends are extrapolated to 2050.”

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(READ MORE FROM THE ARTICLE HERE)http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/01/ipcc-silently-slashes-its-global-warming-predictions-in-the-ar5-final-draft/

“THE CHOICE MAY BE GLOBAL WARMING OR A NEW ICE AGE SAY SCIENTISTS”

“Once again, however, climate science is revealing a more complex reality. Evidence increasingly suggests that man-made global warming may actually be preventing a worldwide calamity, in the form of a new Ice Age.”

(READ MORE FROM THE ARTICLE HERE) http://www.thenational.ae/uae/science/the-choice-may-be-global-warming-or-a-new-ice-age-say-scientists#full

“GERMAN SCIENTISTS PREDICT GLOBAL TEMPERATURE WILL DECLINE THIS CENTURY.”

(READ MORE FROM THE ARTICLE HERE) http://tucsoncitizen.com/wryheat/2013/12/04/german-scientists-predict-global-temperature-will-decline-throughout-this-century/

“We may be witnessing the sun’s last dying gasps before entering into a long slumber. The impact of that slumber on Earth’s climate remains the subject of growing scientific speculation.”

“The latest solar data from this month reinforces the belief that our sun is headed into a long-term period of low solar activity. As time goes on a link between decreasing solar activity and the halt in global warming 17 years ago becomes harder and harder to deny.”

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(READ MORE FROM THE ARTICLE HERE) http://informthepundits.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/november-2013-sunspots-trends/

“GLOBAL SEA ICE AMOUNT HIGHEST IN 25 YEARS.” (READ MORE FROM THE ARTICLE HERE) http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/dec-16th-global-sea-ice-highest-for-25-years/

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“RECORD WITNER ICE COVER IN ANTARCTICA”  “Winter sea ice cover in the Antarctic has grown to its largest extent since satellite records began in the late 1970s, defying most climate models and muddying the waters of the global warming debate.” (READ MORE FROM THE ARTICLE HERE) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/record-winter-ice-cover-in-antarctica/story-e6frg6xf-1226745602870

 

“12/31 GLOBAL SEA ICE WAS THE LARGEST EVER RECORDED”  “Climate experts say that global warming is melting sea ice faster than expected, which is why the poles currently have the most sea ice ever measured” (READ MORE FROM THE ARTICLE HERE) http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/december-31-global-sea-ice-area-was-the-largest-ever-recorded/

“EU MOVES TO BLOCK UK WIND FARM SUBSIDIES”  “The European Commission is to order Britain to end wind farm subsidies.

Officials have told ministers that the current level of state support for renewable energy sources must be phased out by the end of the decade.” (READ MORE FROM THE ARTICLE HERE) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/renewableenergy/10548157/Europe-wants-to-block-UK-wind-farm-subsidies.html

“CLIMATE CHANGE EXPERT SENTENCED TO 32 FOR FRAUD”  “The EPA’s highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison Wednesday for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job.” (READ MORE FROM THE ARTICLE HERE) http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/18/21943533-climate-change-expert-sentenced-to-32-months-for-fraud-says-lying-was-a-rush

“UK PRIME MINISTER PUSHING AHEAD WITH FRACKING FOR NATURAL GAS”  “British Prime Minister David Cameron has called on European leaders to press ahead with fracking after seeing off the threat of new EU restrictions on the industry. He urged European companies to start fracking in earnest after EU officials confirmed that there would be no new legislation. Speaking in Brussels yesterday, Mr. Cameron said that the Commission’s decision marked a “good result. We’ve got to follow through on that and now make sure that this industry can really go ahead,” he said.” (READ MORE FROM THE ARTICLE HERE) http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article3955519.ece

“GERMANY WILL BE ADDING MORE COAL POWER PLANTS” (READ MORE FROM THE ARTICLE HERE) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-27/germany-to-add-most-coal-fired-plants-in-two-decades-iwr-says.html

LINKS TO INFORMATION USED IN THE ARTICLE

http://vtdigger.org/2013/12/24/state-prepares-chart-path-toward-energy-goals/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2013/12/31/record-cold-temperatures/4264237/

http://alec.org/docs/RSPS-6th-Edition?utm_source=Main+alec+site&utm_medium=RSPS+Download+page&utm_campaign=RSPS+Download+calculator

http://www.coalitionforenergysolutions.org/

http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_5_06_a

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/04/boxer-sanders-carbon-tax-economic-impact