GWSA Enforcement

May 26, 2020

by John McClaughry

Over the past year I’ve spent a lot of time denouncing what I call the worst democracy-shredding bill in Vermont history. It’s titled the Global Warming Solutions Act (H.688), and it’s now before the Senate.

Here’s one particularly deplorable feature of the House-passed bill. If the Secretary of Natural Resources does an inadequate job of issuing sweeping and invasive rules to make Vermonters stop emitting carbon dioxide, the bill allows the Conservation Law Foundation to go to court, like it did in Massachusetts, and get a court order to demand that the Secretary issue even more sweeping and invasive rules.

And if the group bringing the suit substantially prevails in the court, the court is supposed to pay its legal expenses and send the bill to the taxpayers – even if nothing actually comes of this political fund raising exercise. 

What if the Secretary of Natural Resources, who works for the Governor, replies to the Court “we’re not going to impose more stringent rules because we think we’ve gone far enough in wrecking Vermont’s economy.”

Is the court going to sock the Secretary of Natural Resources, and the Governor, with a contempt of court citation, and fine them maybe $100 a day until they do something the court finds satisfactory? Like decree a climate change surcharge on motor fuel sales? Or shut down Thunder Road?

At this point no one really knows, and I assure you it is not worth finding out.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike May 30, 2020 at 12:58 pm

If the Conservation Law Foundation is located out of state and the Senate proposes to give them this kind of authority, we’ve seen it all. What idiotic idea will be next on their agenda?????


doug richmond May 30, 2020 at 1:42 pm

Carte Blanc, free reign for advocacies literally run the state and rule all citizens.

NO escape clause, they can claim anything, everything


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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