1-12-15 – VPIRG’s Sleazy Tactics

by John McClaughry

Two Representatives have just blown the whistle on the sleazy tactics used by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group to promote their latest cause, a carbon tax on heating oil, natural gas, gasoline, diesel and propane.

Mark Higley of Lowell and Larry Fiske of Enosburg describe a VPIRG canvassing campaign in their districts to get people to sign a postcard that read “I urge you to take action by putting a price on carbon pollution and creating an Energy Independence Fund to help us save money, reduce our dependence on fossil fuel and create jobs.”

These collected cards were then shipped to legislators to get them to support the VPIRG carbon tax.

Mark and Larry started calling the names and phone numbers on their district’s cards. They reported “we found a disturbing number of folks that had no idea what we were talking about. Many had concerns that their name, phone number and address had been used. Others were Canadian citizens and some had no phone number or address.”

`Note that the VPIRG cards did not say “Dear legislator: enact a carbon tax on heating oil, natural gas, gasoline, diesel and propane.” And for good reason – nobody would sign the cards.

This is the kind of dishonest stuff that VPIRG has done for years to please their donors and push through bad legislation. Vermonters who believe in honest politics ought to denounce this vile practice.

– John McClaughry is founder and vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Durwood January 12, 2016 at 9:07 pm

prosecute the sleazy bastards,ban them from the state


Fred Matheson January 13, 2016 at 11:09 pm

There’s got to be some sort of law to charge them with along the lines of fraud, misconception, deliberate and intentional deception in order to accomplish financial gain ??? Where’s the law when you need it ???


Rob January 13, 2016 at 11:16 pm

Someone who erroneously signed one of these cards needs to file a complaint with the Attorney General.


Paul Burns January 15, 2016 at 8:54 pm


I enjoyed our chance to debate the issues around climate change last December. We received a lot of positive feedback from folks who attended.

It’s no secret that my organization, VPIRG, differs from yours on this issue. We believe in climate change and in the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows human activity – the burning of fossil fuels – to be largely responsible for the increase in global temperatures. We also believe that we have a responsibility to do something about it.

To that end, representatives of a broad coalition of businesses, environmental groups, low-income advocates, religious leaders and working Vermonters delivered over 25,000 petitions asking legislators to “tackle global warming and save Vermonters money by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.” The petition specifically urges legislators to, “take action by putting a price on carbon pollution and creating an Energy Independence Fund to help us save money, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and create jobs.”

Each postcard and petition – including name, phone, email, address, town and zip – was filled out by the individual or in rare cases, by the petitioner who got the information directly from the person whose name is on the petition. We sent the original documents to each Representative or, in the case of 2-member districts, photocopies of the originals. We also passed along the names of individuals who signed a separate petition, along with the language in that petition.

Over the course of the past year, petitions and postcards were collected at dozens of fairs, farmers markets, public information sessions, and door-to-door throughout the state. This type of grassroots organizing represents what’s best about Vermont policy debates: civil, personal, and well-informed. It’s also the type of democratic engagement envisioned over 200 years ago when the right to petition the government was enshrined in the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 20 of the Vermont Constitution.

We understand that not everyone favors reform that will cut taxes, cut pollution, create jobs and grow the economy. Putting a price on carbon pollution will undoubtedly result in reduced use of oil and gas in the state. And we’ve already seen a willingness on the part of the fossil fuel industry to do everything in their power to obscure the truth from Vermonters – that a gradually increasing price on carbon pollution will allow Vermont to cut personal taxes, cut business taxes, and help Vermonters transition to the clean energy options of the future.

The Energy Independent Vermont coalition stands proudly with the tens of thousands of Vermonters who have called on legislators to take bold climate action.



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