Climate Redistribution from Vermonters to Billionaires

January 16, 2020

By David Flemming

At least one progressive legislator is willing to admit it: vehicle feebates are carbon taxes. Worse, he admits feebates may not even stay in Vermont. They could end up in the pockets of out-of-state billionaires funding green energy.

On Tuesday, January 14, the House Committee on Transportation considered putting new fees on all gas or diesel powered vehicles below a yet-to-be determined miles per gallon threshold.

A feebate aims to lower “transportation related fuel consumption and carbon emissions using two primary elements.” These are “rebates awarded to purchasers of low emissions vehicles” which are funded by “fees assessed on the purchase of vehicles that emit more GHGs and are less energy efficient.” Sounds like a carbon tax to me.

And while some legislators may have qualms about calling it as such, committee chair Curt McCormack did not. “I really like feebates, but it could be an indirect carbon tax,” he said.

Leading up to this admission, was some other forthcoming analysis. Discussion of electric vehicles led McCormack to say “costs are coming down. At point do we consider (electric) vehicles without incentives?”

“A lot of people no longer consider those factors in their purchasing decision.” Vehicle manufacturers are “going to have to hit that price point. The danger is if the price point is above the level where the incentive kicks in, they would just raise the price. (The manufacturer) would capture the rebate.”

There are two classes of businesses in Vermont: those that cater to the needs of their neighbors and those that cater to the “needs” of the legislature. If you fool several customers once, you won’t be in business long. Fool the legislature and/or the federal government, by raising the price of EV’s to match any state/federal subsidy, and it seems they’ll turn a blind eye so long as they like your mission statement.

McCormack frankly admits vehicle feebates create the incentives for hoodwinking the government. And yet, he “really likes” them. Of course, the only foreseeable reason for this support can be to ‘fight climate change.’

Just 10 years ago during Occupy Wall Street, progressives clamored for a government that showed less favoritism for business. Now that has gone out the window.

The ends (climate action) justifies the means (giving big businesses on ‘climate crusades’ whatever government funding they ask for). Hardworking Vermonters could already be putting money in the pockets of billionaires like Tesla owner Elon Musk (net worth $26 billion) whenever a Vermont dealership sells an electric Tesla. And now, apparently, our legislators want to tax everyday gas-powered vehicles, which may put even more money in the hands of billionaires.

Climate action has a veneer of social justice around it. But prod that presumption a little bit, and climate justice simply becomes government redistribution from those ‘too frugal to purchase the shiny new climate toys’ and toward ‘those who don’t know how to get rich without government funding.’ It is becoming apparent that even social justice warriors, like all of us who love freedom and equality, must oppose the most extreme climate alarmists.

David Flemming is a policy analyst at the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

sheppy14 January 18, 2020 at 11:27 pm

Thanks for writing this Op/Ed David. If it walks and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. I called Robin Chesnut-Tangermin, Sarah Copeland Hanzas and Stephanie Jerome out on this in Rutland last month, and they swore that this was not a carbon tax.
Me thinks you are correct, and the 83 Vermont legislators who make up the climate caucus need to be aware that they’ve been found out….they would lie when the truth sounded better!


Mike January 19, 2020 at 4:28 pm

When will these clowns stop tilting wind mills and get down to dealing with the peoples’ business????? McCormack and his cronies must have a hidden agenda because the logic being used just doesn’t fly. He must think we’re stupid. Throw the bums out!!!!!


Keld Alstrup January 19, 2020 at 9:11 pm

Of course it is a tax. Quack, quack, quack…


Jeanne V January 20, 2020 at 2:20 pm

Oh, it’s a tax, all right. Quack, quack. Why beat around the bush about it? Honesty is still respected these days. But shoving a carbon/fuel/pollution – whatever – tax down my throat will not make me buy an electric car. I can’t afford to buy one on set retirement income. Vermont keeps saying how it has a changing demographic, people getting older, etc., and less young people working, etc. The older gen is probably not as interested in electric cars as the younger ones who are working. I make a point not to drive around all over the place and wasting gas/money, just go out when I need to. Not cost effective for me to buy an electric car. Screw the carbon tax. And my home fuel. You(tax mongers) want to pay to change my home heating to something else?


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