Climate, Energy & the Environment: Commentaries

With few exceptions, Vermonters care deeply about preserving our picturesque environment. Many of the loudest voices for change in how we relate to our environment

All Commentaries

Commentary: Vermont’s Four Plans to Defeat Climate Change

Since 2014 the climate change activists have created four public policy plans to achieve their objectives. Plan A – the carbon tax - bit the dust in 2018. Plan B –TCI – has just followed it into oblivion. Plan C is the Vermont Climate Council’s Climate Action Plan, avoiding a visible carbon tax (except for resuscitating TCI). When that fails, there’s Plan D: send the Conservation Law Foundation into court to sue the State for not shackling Vermonters with Plan C fast enough.

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Commentary: Climate Council Crack Up

In the spring of 2011, then Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law the bill that was supposed to set Vermont off leading the nation to a single payer healthcare system. The activists rejoiced, the politicians puffed their chests, the bean counters got to work. Then, in December 2014 the three-year adventure in denying reality came to an end. Shumlin was forced to admit the whole scheme was too expensive, too disruptive, and simply wouldn’t work. So, never mind! A similar scent of impending failure is beginning to seep out from the (virtual) chambers of the Vermont Climate Council.

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Commentary: A Capitalist Success Story

            Here’s a tale of two savvy young men from Vermont who hit the jackpot by selling their startup company to a larger one for $40 million. 

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Commentary: Questions for the Climate Council

As the Vermont Climate Council readies its plans to dramatically reduce Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions, they embarked on a series of public engagement events to field questions from curious citizens. Here are some we all might consider asking.

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Commentary: Climate Council Wants “A River of Money”

The Vermont Climate Council, charged with coming up with a plan to reduce Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions to 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80% below by 2050, is finally putting forward some details about what policies it will take to do this. While they have not yet discussed many specifics of how to pay for these programs, member Richard Cowart summed it up at their July 26 meeting saying “a river of money” needs to be diverted into the cause. A river indeed!

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Commentary: Is Climate Science Settled? Absolutely Not.

          Steven E. Koonin is one of America’s leading high-level public scientists with a long career at MIT (PhD physics), CalTech (30 years, Provost) , five national laboratories, and President Obama’s Energy Department. His new book Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters is a devastating refutation of exaggerated, scientifically insupportable, and politically fabricated claims about coming climate catastrophes.


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Commentary: GWSA may stop REC Cash Flow, but not our Natural Gas Reliance

For several years, Vermont has made millions selling Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s) to other states. But the 2020 Global Warming Solutions Act will soon cut off this cash flow which would raise rates. There is also the chance that the GWSA may set in motion a chain of events culminating in electric blackouts.

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Commentary: The “Thermal Energy Efficiency” Tax

For five years now the climate change movement couldn’t get a vote on a politically dangerous carbon tax to reduce fossil fuel consumption, and produce millions of dollars to finance climate-worthy investments like home weatherization.  Now they’re trying push through a $1.3 billion over ten years “Thermal Energy Efficiency Charge”, formerly known as a tax. It will be levied not by accountable legislators, but unconstitutionally by the “unaccountable strangers” at the Public Utility Commission.

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Commentary: More Funding! More Funding!

The Public Utility Commission, at the direction of the legislature, has “joined the chorus of voices seeking climate action”. Its all-fuels energy report takes note of the state’s ambitious carbon dioxide emission reduction goals, and almost screams what’s needed on every page: “More Funding!”

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Commentary: Candid Comments Reveal Illogic Behind Vermont’s Climate Policy

Responding to an email inquiry from a concerned citizen about the real impact – and cost -- of the Global Warming Solutions Act, passed last spring over the veto of Governor Phil Scott (R), Representative Scott Campbell (D-St. Johnsbury) admitted, “Let me start by repeating that no one, least of all me, believes Vermont can stop climate change — or even affect climate change.  It’s tempting to focus on that narrow issue because of the specific metrics in the law, namely the required greenhouse gas reduction thresholds (leaving aside the unfortunate name of the Act),” and, “GWSA will not ‘mitigate’ climate change…” Thanks for the honesty!

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Commentary: Goodbye to TCI

On December 21 Gov. Phil Scott bailed out of the proposed 12-state Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), at least for 2021.  Only three of the twelve hoped-for state participants have agreed to implement TCI (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island). Eight others, including Vermont, agree to keep on meeting, talking and negotiating, but the process is likely on life support. The twelfth state, New Hampshire, wants nothing to do with TCI.

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Commentary: Meet Your New Climate Government

Meet Your new Climate Government:  The Global Warming Solutions Act, enacted over Gov. Scott’s veto, establishes a 23-member Vermont Climate Council to create a Plan directing state agencies to adopt rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Fourteen of the 15 legislative appointees are screened and true climate activists. They outnumber the administration appointees, and the lone  fuel sector member,  14-9.  Hold on to your wallet.

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Commentary: TCI Looks DOA

The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), referring to the organization itself rather than the policy, has put off publication of their final proposal for a multi-state, regional carbon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel for well over half a year. Originally, they promised to release it in the spring of 2020, then hinted at summer, and are currently operating under a promise to do so this fall – a window rapidly closing. Presumably, the delays are part of a strategy to hold off until a politically opportune time. It doesn’t appear such a time will ever transpire. Increasingly, TCI looks dead on arrival.

The latest blow comes from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who, up until a very short time ago, was TCI’s biggest cheerleader. But now, according to the Boston Herald, “Gov. Charlie Baker said governors are re-evaluating support of a controversial carbon tax designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions….”

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Commentary: Renewable Energy and Blackouts

California has just suffered electrical blackouts affecting over 200,000 people, and there will be more to come on hot summer evenings. Why? Because California has become infatuated with subsidizing solar and wind powered electricity, which disappears when the sun goes down and the wind stops. Vermont is heading down that same mistaken path.

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Commentary: Candidate Questions for 2020

Here are 16 incisive questions, fairly stated, to put to your candidate for the legislature, Governor and Lt. Governor. Voters deserve to know what they’ll get by giving their votes. That’s what makes democracy work.

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Commentary: Global Warming Solutions Act Needs a Scott Veto

The GWSA is likely to land on Gov. Scott’s desk at the end of August. There are five reasons why it deserves his veto. “He can take his stand on the liberties and economic well-being of Vermonters, accountable democracy, constitutional separation of powers, far more important spending priorities, and protecting the state from costly virtue-signaling nuisance suits, all in a misbegotten bill that will produce no detectable effect on climate.”

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Commentary: The Final Push for GWSA

The Senate may be about ready to vote on the Global-Warming Solutions Act (H.688). The bill, heavily promoted by the Energy Action Network, would create a counterfeit government within the government, instruct state agencies to issue rules (that no legislator would ever vote on) governing anything and everything needed to drive down Vermont carbon dioxide emissions to arbitrary levels, and authorize law suits against the state if the process isn’t fast enough to suit the climate warriors. Responsible Senators should consign the democracy-shredding GWSA to a place of eternal rest.

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Commentary: Scrap the “Common Property Amendment"

Proposal 9 declares that the people have a right to a clean environment and gives the green light to the Conservation Law Foundation to sue to get it. The state’s natural resources, it states, are “the common property of all the people”. Here comes the feudal King, and there goes  243 years of freehold and liberty.

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Commentary: Act 250 and the Perfect Climate Conscious State

On its 50th anniversary Vermont’s Act 250 is being updated to propel the people of the state into the new era of menacing climate change. The new bill tightens the regulatory grip over rural areas, expands the jurisdictional threshold, creates a three-person Super Board, and even requires applicants to assure “environmental justice”, whatever that may mean.

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Commentary: The Legislature’s New Climate-Driven Priorities

The 2020 legislature is racing ahead on a new course: pushing forward with three sweeping measures to defeat the Menace of Climate Change: Transportation and Climate Initiative, Global Warming Solutions Act, and injecting a climate change criterion into Act 250 development permits. What would Vermont’s economy look like after five years of this program?

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Commentary: GWSA: The Worst Democracy-Shredding Bill in Fifty Years

The Global Warming solutions Act (H.688) purports to combat the Menace of Climate Change by authorizing unaccountable bureaucrats to regulate any and everything to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to impossible levels. The bill gives the Conservation Law Foundation standing to sue the bureaucrats for not oppressing people fat enough – at taxpayer’s expense if the plaintiff “substantially prevails.” It would shred democracy by exempting every legislator from ever having to vote on the results.

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