Vermont Climate Council’s Clean Heat Standard – a disguised carbon tax on Vermont homeowners, renters, businesses, schools, hospitals and municipal governments, fell one vote short of passage on Wednesday.
VPIRG trumpets the defeat of the carbon tax as a “Win For Big Oil And Keeping Vermonters Tethered To Polluting & Costly Heating Systems.” Aside from the minuscule amounts of emissions generated by Vermont households, what VPIRG doesn’t explain is the unfeasibility of the alternative heating systems touted in the Clean Heat Standard, something EAI pointed out last December.
The Clean Heat Standard would authorize Vermont’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) to create clean heat credits for those who switch fossil fuel heating systems to electric heat pumps, advanced wood pellets, and other qualified projects. The price of these credits would be determined by the PUC and by fossil fuel suppliers, many of whom are only “one guy with a truck.” Suppliers must purchase credits based on the quantities of fossil fuels they sell Vermont households and businesses, a cost which would be passed on to Vermont households.
Worse still, households with enough disposable incomes to afford a “green” heating installation with the intent of replacing their heating system could have been left shivering come winter, since many of these newer technologies do not provider consistent heat when the weather turns exceptionally cold.
For months, experts testified before legislative committees that the workforce necessary to install these “greener” heating systems is inadequate for reaching the GWSA’s 15% emissions reduction benchmark in 2025. Consequently, passing the Clean Heat Standard offered no guarantee that Vermont would meet that benchmark. While Vermont faces the very real possibility that the state could be sued for not reducing emissions fast enough through the GWSA mechanism, passing the Standard would have burdened already struggling Vermont households, with no guarantee of escaping that lawsuit.
According to EAI President Meg Hansen, “EAI believes that Vermonters can make their own best decisions about heating fuels without the benefit of an ever-rising carbon tax draining dollars out of their pockets, to subsidize a bunch of persons and businesses favored by the Vermont Climate Council. They realized just in time that the costs were too steep to justify the Clean Heat Standard.”
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Founded in 1993, the Ethan Allen Institute is a policy research and educational nonprofit organization based in Vermont. EAI is committed to promoting policies based on the principles of free enterprise, a constitutional and limited government, and individual liberty. An affiliate member of the State Policy Network, EAI is proud to collaborate and share resources with fifty-plus similar but independent state-level public policy organizations across the nation. For more information, please visit www.ethanallen.org.