VT Geography May Stop Carbon Tax

January 31, 2018

By David Flemming

National Life Hill in Montpelier, VT.

Carbon tax logic: if we make fossil fuels really painfully expensive it will force consumers to accept almost-but-quite-as-expensive alternatives that create no or little carbon emissions. But what happens when there is no alternative?

Such an example came up when Peter Walke of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, testifying before the House Energy & Technology Committee, recounted his own recent experience with a “green” public transportation alternative. Walke and his colleagues were using an electric bus to get around Montpelier. One day, the bus “had trouble getting up the National Life hill,” leaving several state employees stranded at work.

Now, for those not familiar, the National Life hill might be considered a vigorous walk, but its well paved, gradual incline is pretty tame compared to almost any other terrain in Vermont. This led several committee members to question the plausibility of adding such buses to Vermont’s fleet to service our rural areas, where they would have to travel over more challenging obstacles than that hill.

Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson came to a similar conclusion in a December interview, when she explained her hesitancy to embrace a carbon tax when Vermonters don’t have readily available public transportation in rural areas. “Right now, no matter what you do to the pricing, there still are not a lot of ways to get from the Islands to Montpelier.”

Which gets us to the question, what happens when legislators create a tremendous amount of economic pain, but the consumer has nowhere to go to escape that pain? This is not creating an incentive. It’s inflicting torture. And, it doesn’t solve the problem of carbon emissions.

David Flemming is a policy analyst at the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

SHAZZAM February 1, 2019 at 12:45 am

What happens? Typically when a civilization becomes so oppressed, they become – by their nature – uncivilized. The Boston Tea Party, Washington crossing the Delaware at night, the Civil War, The Battle of Athens and the Days of Rage. So many people have moved to Vermont acquiring jobs as either bureaucrats or politicians, it’s no wonder that the state is our largest employer. What do you think will happen when the underfunded commingled state and teachers pensions really go retrograde? Nothing will be safe and Mitzi & company will have nowhere to run (and no doubt be unarmed). The restoration of critical thinking with regard to saving the planet better hurry up.


Ellen February 1, 2019 at 2:50 am

Shazam,paranoid,much??? And what makes you think throwing money at the problem and creating more poverty and hardship is going to be a good thing??? Wake up and smell the coffee,climate will change in spite of mankind not because of him…


H. Brooke Paige February 1, 2019 at 7:23 am

Every scheme they develop to reduce Vermont’s “carbon footprint” has resulted in more unforeseen consequences than meaningful advancements toward their “green energy goals!”

“Carbon Pricing,” the latest clever marking term for the “carbon tax” does nothing to reduce fossil fuel consumption it merely punishes and lessens the quality of life for those Vermonters too poor or too foolish to realize they should head for the borders (of the state) before the liberal’s bankrupt them. Electric vehicles are no answer in Vermont’s cold and hilly environment, industrial wind and solar have proven to be more of a nuisance than the promised godsend and the “tree huggers” are unwilling to embrace the real “carbon free” solutions – nuclear and hydrogen cell technologies.

The legislature has embraced former Governor Shumlin’s pie-in-the-sky 90% renewable energy by 2050 dream and thus far Vermont actual carbon footprint has been headed upward as the sale of “carbon credits” have saddled Vermont with the responsibility for emissions and pollution produced elsewhere. The forced early closing of Vermont Yankee took away the state’s greatest “green energy asset. The fiction about the use of wood heating, as a “green energy” solution which is “carbon neutral’ is a major reason for the state’s increased carbon footprint since the use of wood (and wood pellets) creates significantly higher carbon emissions – on the order of 2X to 2.5X – that created by fossil fuels !

I believe that the state would have been better off if it had stuck to the simple solutions including: incentivizing improved insulation of both residential and commercial buildings and energy-saving lighting. All the rest of the scheme has been window dressing to justify a huge financial giveaway to industrial solar and wind promoters with a continuing long term burden on electric utility ratepayers.

H. Brooke Paige


H. Brooke Paige February 1, 2019 at 7:25 am

Forgot to include this link to a study on wood vs. fossil fuels for heating and power generation: https://www.wri.org/blog/2017/12/insider-why-burning-trees-energy-harms-climate


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