Governor Gavin Newsom recently ordered the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. Since the 1990s, sixteen states including Vermont have adopted CARB's more stringent emission standards in place of regulations enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency. Newsom's mandatory transition to zero emission vehicles will therefore have a domino effect in the CARB states, which will be legally bound to outlaw the sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
The Climate Council has called for 170,000 heavily subsidized electric vehicles on Vermont’s roads by 2030 – up from 4,360 last year. EVs have some legitimate attractions, but range anxiety and charging time trauma persist. For those boosting EVs while proclaiming “environmental justice”, prominently featured in the Climate Action Plan, mining for battery ingredients cobalt and lithium involve very troublesome consequences, ranging from water consumption to river pollution to unspeakable child labor in the Congo.
Four court cases, including one from Maine at the U.S. Supreme Court, are likely to open the way to expanded parental choice in education. But the four powerful Vermont education lobby groups are feverishly working to persuade the legislature to declare “Fund Only Public Schools”.
The Executive Director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association testified before the House Energy & Technology Committee that if the “Clean Heat Standard” currently being contemplated becomes law, he expects it to drive ten to fifty Vermont home heating fuel dealers (oil, propane, natural gas, and kerosene) out of business. This would cost multiple hundreds of people their jobs and leave tens if not hundreds of thousands of Vermonters scrambling to find new heating fuel suppliers.
If I give you $100, and you spend it in Wyoming, how does that help the Vermont economy? Answer: it doesn’t.
Earlier this month the Scott Administration released the Report of the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Agriculture. The Report is well-written and constructive, but for many people seriously concerned with this subject, it is likely to be a disappointment.
This year, the tri-partisan Legislative Apportionment Board (LAB) recommended that the Vermont legislature re-draw house and senate district boundaries (we do this every ten years following the census) so that there would be 150 single member house districts and 30 single member senate districts. This would be a change from Vermont’s current mishmash of one- and two-member house districts and one-, two-, three- and six-member senate districts.
Some years ago, faced with the many competing spending demands before the Senate, I would say “all this state needs is a diamond mine”. That is, with an inexhaustible supply of dollars in the till, all worthwhile projects and programs could be funded - and a quite a few that weren’t worthwhile – without laying higher taxes on our voters.
When we talk about Vermont’s nearly $6 billion unfunded liability, most of us think about the teachers’ and state employees’ pensions. But these two giant liabilities only account for half of the state’s total unfunded liabilities. Where’s the other half?