Commentary: Shock Poll (NOT)! Vermonters Don’t Want to Pay ANYTHING for Democrats’ Climate Agenda

Campaign for Vermont finally asked Vermonters directly the question our elected representatives have been avoiding for years in regard to their Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) fantasies: How much are you willing to pay to support the law’s greenhouse gas reduction mandates? Vermonters’ overwhelming answer: not a #*&% thing!

When asked, “How much a year should Vermont residents be asked to pay in increased taxes in order to meet the Paris Climate Accord’s target of being carbon-neutral?” 50 percent answered nothing at all. Another 15 percent said $10 a year or less, and 23% said between $10 and $100 a year.

Ummmm… that ain’t gonna cut it. Just the thermal sector portion of the GWSA, the Clean Heat Standard, is estimated to cost the average Vermont household over $500 a year. The transportation portion, when enacted, is likely to cost Vermont drivers in the neighborhood of $10 per fill up. Changes to the Renewable Energy Standard under discussion for next year are estimated to add tens, potentially hundreds, of millions of dollars to Vermonters’ electric bills over the next decade. And all of these estimates are conservative. Back to the poll….

The policies for how to extract this money from the populace were even more unpopular. Asked if they supported or opposed “A plan by the State Legislature to subsidize CLEAN home heating systems and weatherization improvements by imposing a surcharge or tax on carbon-based home heating fuel, such as natural gas, home heating oil, kerosene, propane, and other forms of fuel,” 63 percent of Vermonters opposed the law, a majority (52 percent) strongly so. This sentiment was reflected in the tsunami of calls and emails lawmakers received before the Clean Heat Standard bill votes last spring. But, in spite of their constituents, 120 out of 126 Democrats in the House and Senate supported and voted to override Governor Scott’s veto of the Clean Heat Standard Bill (S.5/Act 18). Every Republican, like the majority of Vermonters, opposed this carbon tax.


Even less popular than the tax on heating fuel was the prospect of a similar tax on transportation fuels. Asked if they support or oppose “A surcharge or tax on GASOLINE AND DIESEL FUEL and use the revenue to build more electric vehicle charging stations and incentivize the switch to electric vehicles?” a whopping 71 percent of Vermonters opposed the idea, 59 percent strongly so. A second question asked, “If such a plan were to pass, how much of a tax or fee on gasoline and diesel fuels would you support?” Fully 63 percent reaffirmed they wouldn’t support paying anything more. Not a penny.

As for the poll question’s qualifier, “if such a plan were to pass”, the Climate Council and the Agency of Transportation are working on such a plan as we speak. Such a bill has to pass if Vermont is going to fulfil its mandates under the GWSA. And, such a bill, S.24- An act relating to the Clean Fuels Program, sponsored by Senator Becca White (D-Windsor) is on the wall in the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee waiting to be taken up.

The questions Campaign for Vermont is asking are the questions that should have been asked and explored by lawmakers back in 2019-2020 BEFORE the Democrats’ pushed through the Global Warming Solutions Act over the Governor’s veto. Still, 108 of 113 Democrats in the House and Senate voted to override that veto in the fiscal/intellectual dark of night.  

Why did the majority party actively dodge answering questions of cost before passing two laws — two so far and more in the pipeline — with literally billions of dollars of new tax implications attached to them? Because they know they’re pushing polices that the people who elected them and who they are supposed to represent don’t want and can’t afford.

I applaud Campaign for Vermont for their approach to these issues. Presenting a cost/benefit proposal is really the only accurate way to gauge genuine support or opposition to a policy. Almost anybody will support almost anything if they think it’s free.

In fact, CfV did ask Vermonters -- without including a cost point -- if they supported the concept of Vermont meeting the Paris Climate Accord targets, and 64 percent said they did (29 percent were still opposed). Sure, why not? But when given the opportunity to weigh a cost/benefit for pursuing such a goal, the overwhelming majority of Vermonters see the costs of these programs as outweighing the benefits -- by a lot – and reject them.  

Rob Roper is a freelance writer with 20 years of experience in Vermont politics including  nine years as President of the Ethan Allen Institute, Vermont’s free


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