When the folks at the Georgetown Climate Center put forward their memorandum of understanding for thirteen New England and Mid-Atlantic states to sign onto, it was a blow to the interstate carbon scheme that only three states (plus Washington DC) signed on. It was a further blow that in two of those states where the Governor gave the okay, Connecticut and Rhode Island, the left-leaning legislatures in both balked at adopting legislation that would actually allow their states to participate in TCI. So, as of now, they’re still out. That leaves Massachusetts, which does not require legislative approval to participate, as the only state left on the field. And now even Massachusetts’ participation in TCI is in jeopardy.
A bipartisan group of citizens, lawmakers, and business leaders succeeded in putting a TCI ballot question up for a statewide popular vote in November 2022. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s summary of the ballot item reads: “This proposed law would prohibit Massachusetts from imposing any tax, fee, revenue-generating measure, or market-based compliance measure if it would reduce or restrict the supply of gasoline, diesel fuel, special fuels, or other motor fuels available to meet consumer demand.” Needless to say, it is not likely that a majority of voters anywhere will vote to impose motor fuel taxes and rationing on themselves. Odds are that this measure will pass and Massachusetts will be out of TCI as well. And then there were none.
Why should Vermonters care? Because as the Vermont Climate Council is racing forward with grand plans to reduce our state’s greenhouse gas emissions and build infrastructure to support this effort on a truly gargantuan scale, the only funding source they have so far been able to enthusiastically identify to pay for their fantasies is TCI – and even this relative drop in the bucket for what they’ll need ain’t happening. Better they figure this out sooner rather than later.
- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute