Climate, Energy & the Environment: Blog Posts

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


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Hottest July ever recorded! (?)

                In Nature Conservancy magazine’s winter issue I read a boxed feature labelled “July 2021 was the Hottest Month Ever Recorded on Earth”. I dug online into the meaning of that statement for about an hour.

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Connecticut Governor Drops TCI

If you saw what happened in the Virginia and New Jersey governor’s races, you know that left-of-center politicians nationwide, and especially on the East Coast, are panicking about a similar voter backlash washing them out of office a year from now. Glen Youngkin, now governor-elect of Virginia, and Jack Ciattarelli, who barely missed knocking out New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, capitalized on what a lot of voters see as a tone deafness on the part of Democrats who are pushing highly ideological policies at the expense of their constituents.

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“Fundamentally Flawed” Climate Plan for VT Forests

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Climate Council will have to choose between a clearly inferior Climate Plan product by the December 1 deadline, or spending more time (and taxpayer dollars) trying to correct the current Climate Plan’s flaws.

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Calling Out the “Lack of Realism” in Climate Plan

June Tierney of the Vermont Climate Council (also commissioner of the Department of Public Service) made a splash when she called the plan to reduce Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions a “Mack Truck” getting ready to run down unsuspecting citizens in terms of its immense cost and radical impact on our jobs and lifestyle. At the November 2 meeting of the Council, Tierney doubled down and then some.

 

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The Spectacular Decrease in Forest Fires

Last month, VT Digger reported that “the West Coast fires that have ravaged parts of California, Oregon and Washington this summer have been linked definitively to climate change.”

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GWSA: Political Suicide Mission

For a while now, we have been reporting and commenting on how utterly unrealistic, economically irrational, logistically impossible, and downright nutty the policy prescriptions being kicked around by the Vermont Climate Council are. Turns out members of the Council and its subcommittees aren’t totally oblivious to this fact either. They are fully aware that they are setting up the elected legislators who ultimately support their recommendations for a political suicide mission.

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Shameless Climate Misreporting

Here’s an outstanding example of how your government, in this case the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,  puts out deliberately misleading or false news about the terrors of climate change, and how Associated Press inflated it into a scare headline.

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Everything’s on the table to save the planet! (Except the one thing that might work.)

At the September 2 meeting of the Cross Sector Mitigation subcommittee of the Climate Council, member Christine Donovan asked hired consultant David Hill a reasonable question, “If we have missed an important pathway [to decarbonization] or have been promoting a pathway that isn’t really a highly effective pathway for the state moving forward will you all be telling us that?”

The expected answer would, of course, be “Of course!” If there was some way to meet the carbon reduction benchmarks mandated in the law then one would expect the person you’re paying good taxpayer money to help find a solution to say so. Not so David Hill.

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Vermont flooding shows no signs of stopping... or increasing

A few weeks ago, VTDigger reported that “since Irene hit Vermont Aug. 27, 2011, many have warned that climate change would make similar rain and floods more frequent, and the August storm appears to be an example of that.”

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Vermont "Needs" 1,150% More Electric Vehicles by 2025

Here’s a quick peek at what the Vermont Climate Council is planning to unload on us in a month, courtesy of Matt Cota of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association.

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Another Major Leak in the TCI Boat

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.

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Climate Council is "akin to deer in the headlights"

Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment has been closely following the meetings of the Climate Council, which is drafting a sweeping plan to save us from climate change.

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The Salisbury Digester: Turning Waste into Energy

       Vermont Digger published a noteworthy story July 21 by reporter Sophia McDermott-Hughes. It’s about the largest anaerobic digester in the Northeast that has just begun full-scale production of renewable natural gas on the Goodrich Family Farm in Salisbury.

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The Ones Who Gave Residential Solar a Price Hike

If you have solar panels connected to an electric grid in Vermont, you may have been caught off guard recently by a sizeable increase in a subtle change to the “Energy Efficiency Charge (EEC).”

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The Terrors of Climate Change

       Last week I reviewed the new book by physicist Steven Koonin entitled Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, in which he explains how most of what you hear about climate science is, to put it mildly, exaggerated or insupportable.

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A Thorny Question Indeed!

At the July 26 meeting of the Vermont Climate Council, member Richard Cowart raised what he admitted might be “a thorny question.” Thorny or not, it was a very good one. It illustrates very clearly how government interventions in the free market, using carrots and sticks to influence people’s behavior in singular, predetermined ways can lead to disastrous conclusions.

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“Sacrificing” the Sick to Vermont’s Green Energy

Annette Smith, Executive Director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, gave some harsh testimony to the Science and Data Subcommittee of the Vermont Climate Council Meeting on July 21. The Subcommittee was discussing how to calculate “economic analysis of the costs and benefits the costs of climate action” including the health impacts of various policies. The health costs of climate action are frequently brushed under the rug, as the health benefits are talked up.

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Endangered Species Act Foils E-Car Manufacturing

Everybody from President Biden down to Gov. Scott is busy promoting electric cars as the major means of cutting down the 43% of Carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector. California wants all cars on the road to be electric by 2035.

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Climate Council says the “C” word! Carbon Tax

During the July 8th meeting of the Vermont Climate Council’s Cross-Sector Mitigation Committee, the group started to delve into some of the details of what “the plan” to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions might actually look like. In a nutshell, how you drive, heat your home, and heat your water are going to have to change. Needless to say, subsidizing multiple tens of thousands of Vermonters into electric vehicles, weatherizing many thousands of homes, and switching out existing heating systems for many more will cost a mountain of money.

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The Vermont Climate Council and Critical Race Theory

The debate over Critical Race Theory in Vermont has largely focused on education, policing, and with Covid, healthcare. But, in case you missed it (and judging by the very small number of YouTube views, you have) it is the dominant lens through which the Vermont Climate Council is approaching its mission of greenhouse gas reduction.

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Far Left CT Legislature Punts TCI

When the Georgetown Climate Center released its final proposal for the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) last December, it was a bit of a fizzle for advocates of the de facto regional Carbon Tax scheme as only three of the thirteen (plus D.C.) negotiating states agreed to sign on: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Now there are two.

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30 Vermont farms in Sierra Club Crosshairs

Here’s the latest on the climate change battlefront. Guy Page of the Vermont Daily reported last week that “The Vermont chapter of the Sierra Club is standing with the national Sierra Club petition to the Biden administration to regulate dairy farms of 500 or more cows under the Clean Air Act, due to air pollution and climate concerns. If approved, the regulations would affect about 30 Vermont farms, at least to start with.”

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Thermal Energy Efficiency Tax Vanishes, for Now

Last week I devoted three radio broadcasts to Sen. Bray’s proposed Thermal Energy Efficiency Tax, disguised as a charge on your electric bill to raise millions of dollars to subsidize 120,000 home weatherizations over the next ten years.

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Legislators Debate Doubling and Expanding the Bottle Deposit

There is a proposal making its way through the Vermont House of Representatives to raise and expand Vermont’s bottle deposit law (H.175). The bill would double the cost of a standard bottle deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents, and it would apply the deposit to “water bottles, wine bottles and containers for all noncarbonated and carbonated drinks, except for milk, rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, hemp seed milk, and dairy products.” It would also create a 15 cent deposit requirement for liquor bottles.

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Burlington Heating Tax & Opportunity Vermont

The climate activists have found a new target for their mandates, restrictions, and taxes – the City of Burlington . They’re pushing a resolution that would lead quickly to a ban on burners, boilers, furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, and dryers that use natural gas. The resolution could also allow a carbon tax on Burlington residents that decide to keep their current heating system rather than converting to electricity. Imagine that! A natural gas free Burlington!

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Robbing the Transportation Fund to Pay for “Green” Priorities

There is a bill currently before the House Transportation Committee, “An act relating to transportation initiatives to reduce carbon emissions” (H.94), that any Vermonter who has routinely experienced a miles-long, tooth-rattling ride over pot holes and frost heaves should be concerned about.

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A ‘Climate Emergency’ Power-Grab: One Scenario

If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s that governors across the country have more power  during “states of emergency” than absolute monarchs did 500 years ago. A week ago, I wrote about how Vermont has the worst legislative oversight of the governor’s emergency powers in the country.

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Green Police Will “Break Your Will!"

So, the Vermont Climate Council, established by the Global Warming Solutions Act passed last year, has started their work in how to figure out the ways in which Vermont can reduce its greenhouse gas emission to 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050. It’s a daunting task. some would say impossible – others would say impossible and a useless gesture in virtue signaling that will accomplish nothing at great expense. But…

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Why We Signed the TCI Opposition Letter

Three weeks ago I wrote a commentary titled “Goodbye to TCI”, the Transportation and Climate Initiative. Only three of the intended 12 state governors agreed to sign on to this regional gas and diesel fuel tax scheme. Gov. Scott was a notable non-signer, because he didn’t see much merit in slapping motor fuel taxes on Vermonters in the middle of a pandemic.

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VT Rep.: Make Covid lockdown permanent to fight climate change!

Yes, we saw this coming and here it is! Many, including us at EAI, have quipped over the last nine months that if you like the Covid economy, you’ll love the Green New Deal/Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA)/Etc. Well, now Rep. Curt McCormack (D-Burlington, and chair of the House Transportation Committee) penned an op-ed, “Winning the climate and Covid wars with WWII tactics,” in which he argues, “If the Covid-19 pandemic can reduce our carbon emissions in one month by the same amount as we need to reduce per year, 7%, to avoid catastrophic climate change, can we not do this on purpose [emphasis added], in an orderly well-planned fashion?”

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Sierra Club Natural Gas Appliance Ban

The climate change warriors in California, led by the Sierra Club, have a wonderful new idea to make Californians suffer. It’s similar to the “impact charge” (tax) that the Burlington City Council wants to impose on natural gas appliance and hearing users.

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Vermont & Mass. compete to leave taxpayers with largest climate bill

12 years before Vermont passed the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) in 2020, Massachusetts passed their own GWSA in 2008. The two policies mirror each other closely. Perhaps irrelevant, if you discounted VT and MA politicians' need to one-up each other.

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Pro-TCI Group Accuses TCI Ally of "Anti-Regulatory" Activities

One pro-TCI group has accused another pro-TCI group of anti-regulatory activities. They both miss the mark.

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Cota on Burlington Gas Furnace Tax

Here’s an interesting news item from last Friday. The Burlington City Council has banned backyard wood burning fire pits  due to concerns about air pollution.

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Scott’s Improbable New Idea for Affordable Electricity

On October 14 Gov. Phil Scott and four other New England governors – not including New Hampshire’s  -  announced their support for major changes in the governance of the New England electricity market, which is conducted by the Independent System Operator ISO-New England.

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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.

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Speaker of the House: GWSA means LESS accountability to meet climate goals.

For the past two years, how many times have we had to hear from Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) advocates that Vermont’s 2005 goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions “lack teeth,” and this dentally challenged nature of our policies is why Vermont has consistently failed to meet those goals. We need big, sharp, serious teeth! And those teeth were going to be the citizen lawsuit provision of the GWSA. This allows that if Vermont isn’t on track to meet the targets in the law, “any person” can sue the state at taxpayers’ expense. 

Here’s just a sampling of the bicuspid obsession from the last biennium…  

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Jon Margolis on GWSA

Vermont Digger’s liberal political columnist Jon Margolis recently weighed in on the recently enacted – over the Governor’s veto – Global Warming Solutions Act.  Here’s the interesting part:

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Global Warming Meadow Muffins

Two weeks ago, when Gov. Scott was about to veto the Global Warming Solutions Act, the media was quick to interview activists strongly opposed to the veto – but of course at least to my knowledge the media didn’t bother to interview anyone outside the Scott administration who had said for nine months that this bill was really bad for Vermont.

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The Superabundance of Climate Lobbyists

I took some time last week to work through the photo book of registered lobbyists at the Vermont State House, with a particular eye for the number of them announced as working for “climate change” legislation.

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You Don’t Give Blood When You’re Bleeding

Yesterday the Vermont House of Representatives voted in favor of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), sending the controversial legislation to the Governor’s desk for either his signature or a veto stamp.

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California Heat Wave/Black Outs Highlight Flawed “Green” Policies

California is suffering a major heatwave with temperatures coming in at significantly over 100 degrees. Compounding the danger is the unfortunate reality that California’s electricity capacity – arguably the most “green” in the nation – can’t handle the demand needed to run the air conditioning. California Governor Gavin Newsom admitted that California’s extreme shift to renewable energy sources is at the root of the current crisis.

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Massachusetts TCI Bill

That’s the eleven-state agreement to drive up gasoline and diesel fuel taxes to get people to stop driving internal combustion cars, by relieving them of millions of dollars to insulate somebody else’s home, subsidize electric cars, build charging stations, bike paths, and so on. The same proposal is before the Vermont legislature.

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