Burlington “Heat Fine” Shows Where GWSA Is Heading

As the Vermont legislature shepherded the Global Warming Solutions Act into law, we at the Ethan Allen Institute pointed out some of the many possible places the law could lead: the banning of ATVs, snow machines, and other fossil fuel burning recreational vehicles, the banning of gas powered lawnmowers and lawn maintenance equipment, fireplaces and barbeques, etc. One of the red flags we raised concerned oil and gas heating systems and the possibility that they could be banned from new construction, renovation, or with the sale of a property. Well, on that front Burlington has fired the first shot.

On October 6, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger sent out a press release announcing a “Building Electrification Proposal to Dramatically Reduce New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Construction.” It does this by imposing a monstrous fee and regulatory hurdles for anyone daring to install or connect to an oil or gas heating system. As the memo states:

“In pathway one, a new building does not connect to fossil fuel infrastructure and, therefore, no further requirements apply during the permit process. In pathway two, the new building connects to fossil fuel infrastructure and, therefore, the owner would pay a “building carbon fee” of $100 per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent to the expected emissions for the first 10 years of building operation. This process would repeat every 10 years until the building no longer is using fossil fuels. The building also would be required to be constructed as “electric ready,” so it can add electrification technologies in the future.”

The Vermont Fuel Dealers Association noted that at the rate of $100 per metric ton, a gallon of oil heat would pay a carbon tax of $1.02 per gallon. The average home uses 700 gallons per year, which means the average Burlington homeowner would have to pay an upfront fee of $7140 for the privilege of staying warm over the following decade of winters, plus whatever the costs would be for installing that unused/unneeded electric infrastructure. And Burlingtonians wonder why the cost of housing is beyond the income levels of so many of its residents – and why nobody wants to build enough housing to meet demand!

Get ready for this and policies like it to come to your community when the GWSA’s 23 member Climate Counsel starts making recommendations for how Vermont can meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction mandates. Home heating and transportation are the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont, and the only way to meet the goals of the new law are to curb home heating and transportation. The only ways to do that are to ban these things outright or make them so prohibitively expensive that they may as well have been outright banned.

In other news, California just announced they will be banning the sale of cars and trucks that burn fossil fuels in 2035. How far behind will Vermont be?

- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

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  • Doug & Patricia Richmond
    commented 2020-12-15 18:46:18 -0500
    The intent and the costs are as obvious as the nose on your face. No reason beyond social shaming, political correctness

    Force citizens to do what is only a pipe dream in some perfectionist head, at a ridiculous continuing cost.

    Current housing stock will age out, wear out, or stand vacant and vacant lots will abound.

    Perhaps welfare can stay, but working folk MUST leave

    First shut off fossil fuels to City hall and every Councilor who voted for this, Let them eat their won cake!
  • Andrew Chalnick
    commented 2020-12-15 18:22:33 -0500
    Thank you for sharing. It is wonderful that Burlington is moving forward on addressing the climate crisis. I hope that Vermont can set an example for the rest of the Northeast. I also look forward to Vermont following California’s lead on driving adoption of electric vehicles.
  • Doug & Patricia Richmond
    commented 2020-11-25 14:16:41 -0500
    After zero fossil fuels within Burlington, then they can go after every power dependent industry that spplies Burlington; the lumber industry,
    the entire food industry, airline industry, home appliances, household furniture, Asphalt Pavement!!,, ……..
    Burlington should do the whole job and completely divorce itself from all oil and gas dependent products. Completely!!
    Gosh, Think of all the good they might do for the Earth
  • Doug & Patricia Richmond
    commented 2020-11-25 12:40:37 -0500
    Is it this simple?
    First shut off the heat in City hall. Second the mayors home, then the councilers.
    Tell the street dep’t that they have 12 months to dump the big highway and plow trucks, solar power?
    in favor of units powered by the sun, fairy dust, or wood combustion electricity.
    No heat or hot water in city hall or any city building.
    No or oil/gas or wood combustion powered hot water
  • Rachel Williams
    commented 2020-11-25 11:37:23 -0500
    This is one reason we are leaving Vermont as soon as possible.
  • Karl Duffy
    commented 2020-10-11 07:00:24 -0400
    Why would our people’s representatives vote for a bill like this at this time… our state’s in a serious crisis and so many issues require immediate attention and priority over GWSA (global warming), important as it is. In addition, the burden it imposes on all Vermont tax payers is beyond realistic! Vote in new blood and Legislative leadership …what we have now is simply not working!!
  • Doug & Patricia Richmond
    commented 2020-10-10 09:54:26 -0400
    it is $714, not $7000++, But still a major burden

    Where do we get all this magic new electric power?
    Force the sun to stay out 24 hours a day, and zero clouds?
    Put fans in front of windmills for times there is no wind!

    Some geniuses know NOTHING, but they sure are full of GREAT IDEAS