A friend sent me the video of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy committee meeting of April 15, discussing the Clean Heat Standard bill (H.715). Twenty nine minutes in, it yielded this these gems:
Sen. Mark MacDonald (Democrat, Orange Co.): “I don’t understand it, I can’t explain it so I don’t understand it.”
“They (the Public Utility Commission) in theory understand what we are not able to explain. We are asking them to design the thing that will work. But we can’t explain what we are asking them to design.”
A minute or two later Chairman Sen. Chris Bray (Democrat, Addison Co.) admits: “you could see the price of [heating] fuel rise.”
Sen. MacDonald: “When John McClaughry says we’ve got a fuel tax, a carbon tax, I think John’s correct – isn’t that what we’re doing?”
Sen. Bray: “Right. In essence you’re building into the price of fuel the cost of reducing the [carbon dioxide] emissions”
Let’s give the senators credit for candor. Yes, forcing your heating fuel distributor to buy Clean Heat Credits, that the Public Utility Commission can issue in unlimited quantities to heat pump installers, weatherizers and other favored businesses and homeowners that are doing something that reduces carbon dioxide emissions, will drive up the price of that fuel. And who will pay the higher price? You will, if you use heating oil, propane or natural gas.
The senators now admit what I’ve been saying since early February .It’s a stealth carbon tax.
After recognizing that important fact, the four Democrats on the Committee voted 4-1 to report to the bill to the Senate. The lone Republican voted no.
To watch the discussion, click here.
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Instead, what will happen, I predict, will be that ordinary people, those not having these ideas about “saving the planet” and of “climate change is an existential crisis,” those ordinary people will go to an alternative. That alternative will be, but only in the very, very short term, wood heat. Pellet-wood will likely not be used to any extent, as the Ukraine-Russia war is pushing the Europeans to frantically search out other pellet supplies, noting that pellets in Europe are sourced from Russia. The Europeans are already contracting for the entire pellet-manufacturing capacity of Quebec, so there will be precious few pellets left for domestic consumption. And firewood will not be taken up to any great extent, due to drying times and the overall capacity of the forests to supply sustained levels of firewood.
So what will happen is that the average Vermonters will substitute propane with coal. You will see lots of coal furnaces get installed, and coal smuggling by the truckload from Upstate New York will be the next big start-up business. Coal has great energy density, there is a lot of it out there, the price is stable and cheap, and it provides certainty. Coal today runs about $33/ton, and when washed and bagged in 50-lb bags and shipped in, the retail price will be about $120/ton. The eco-warriors will attempt to outlaw coal, but like heroin, it will have this great mark-up margin and will induce wide-scale smuggling. You cannot stop coal being smuggled in when it is all nicely bagged, and even if not; I predict there will be clandestine bagging operations set up in the rural parts of the State and, like moonshine, coal will be brought in, in staggering quantities.
You are not going to shut down rural Vermonters from heating their houses, so if you are adamant about making propane so expensive that nobody can pay for it, the result will be a large-scale shift to coal. Beware the unforeseen results of really dumb policy decisions, Senators.