The Carbon Tax and the New Speaker’s Choice for Energy Chair


Rep. Mary Sullivan, Carbon Tax Sponsor

by Rob Roper

There will be changes in the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee come January. Longtime chairman and major Carbon Tax advocate Tony Klein (D-East Montpelier) decided to call it a career and not run for re-election. Vice Chair of the committee and a proud sponsor of last session’s Carbon Tax legislation, Kesha Ram (D-Burlington), gave up her seat to run for Lieutenant Governor, and lost in the primary.

The other big change in leadership is, of course, the new Speaker of the House, Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero). Johnson, who has a reputation as a moderate (her voting record can be interpreted differently), will send a big signal with her appointments to this committee as to what kind of leader she will be: one who listens to the voices of voters, or one who listens to the ideological partisans and special interest donors in her own party.

Incoming Governor Phil Scott won a decisive victory over Democrat Sue Minter largely because of the Carbon Tax issue. Scott promised to veto the thing, Minter hedged – and lost big time. Will Johnson choose to challenge Scott’s veto promise by moving forward with Carbon Tax legislation, creating a contentious relationship with the executive branch, or will she kill the Carbon Tax, signaling a willingness to work together in areas of common ground?

Seven Days reports that a leading contender for the chairmanship of Natural Resources & Energy is Mary Sullivan (D-Burlington), who was the lead sponsor of H.412 (the Carbon Tax bill). A more radical Carbon Tax warrior could not be imagined. If Johnson gives Sullivan the job, this would mean the Carbon Tax remains a major priority for the Democratic Caucus and its leadership.

A similarly radical appointment would be to move David Deen (D-Putney), the other lead sponsor on H.412), from Fish, Wildlife, & Water Resources over to energy. There are other poor choices: Click here to see who the big Carbon Tax supporters are.

Johnson could send a positive signal by appointing newly elected Brian Keefe (R-Manchester) to the Natural Resources & Energy. (Chair is too much to ask for a freshman of the opposition party, but a seat is reasonable.) Keefe used to work for Central Vermont Public Service Corporation before it merged with Green Mountain Power, so he certainly has the background and expertise to serve on this committee. He also campaigned against the Carbon Tax and knocked off an incumbent, Steve Berry, who was a sponsor of the legislation. With Keefe, Johnson could signal that she heard the voters, cares about their concerns, and wants to work on issues of common ground.

We’ll know soon.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Izzy Simons December 9, 2016 at 10:42 am

The Koch brothers have their hands up the buts (like puppets) of the EAI.
Vermont Watch Dog is another case of this too.


Jim Sawhill December 9, 2016 at 11:18 pm

Not only is that pointless, it is plain rude!


Jim Bulmer December 10, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Sorry, Izzy, EAI is one of the few sources of the truth. If screaming liberals have problems with facts that’s their problem. Suggest you take two aspirin and call your shrink in the morning.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

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.

Latest News

VT Left Wing Media Bias Unmasks Itself

July 24, 2020 By Rob Roper Dave Gram was a long time reporter for the Associated Press, is currently the host of what’s billed on WDEV as a...

Using Guns for Self Defense – 3 Recent Examples

July 24, 2020 By John McClaughry  The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal last week published eleven news stories about citizens using a firearm to stop a crime. Here are...

FERC ruling on solar subsidies could help Vermont ratepayers

July 21, 2020 By John McClaughry Last Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finalized its updates to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), in what the majority...

The Moderate Left’s Stand for Free Speech

July 17, 2020 By David Flemming Harper’s Magazine, a long-running monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts, is hardly what you would call a ‘politically...

Trump’s Regulatory Bill of Rights

July 16, 2020 by John McClaughry “President Trump [last May] issued an executive order entitled  ‘Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery.’ The executive order includes a regulatory bill...