Alison Despathy: S.5 is rotten to the core

This commentary is by Alison Despathy, of Danville. She has a clinical nutrition practice in St. Johnsbury.

No amount of money or reports will fix the fundamentally flawed, rotten-to-the-core S.5 bill. Its intention and deceptive name — Affordable Heat Act — sound great, and for those who simply read headlines or believe in utopia, it is a perfect plan. Sadly this is not the case. S.5 is highly destructive.

The predatory, parasitic nature of S.5 has become more apparent. Vermont will receive at least $600 million in federal funding to support the energy transition — plenty to continue to drive this path without burdening Vermonters with higher heating costs in the way S.5 would — but greed is often overpowering.

With federal funding to do the same work that S.5 proposes, why would the Legislature contemplate passing a bill that will result in higher costs for heating fuels? Why would the thermal sector be forced into a game to “pay” for selling their products — necessary products for heating many homes. Enter the parasitic, economy-sucking, profit-hungry, monopoly-generating S.5 tapeworm.

S.5 demands a clean heat standard-carbon credit equivalent, designed to both measure progress and maximize earning potential. This generation of carbon credits benefit select entities such as electric utilities, Vermont gas, and large fossil fuel companies. These groups want in on the bogus carbon market because they stand to gain while hard working Vermonters would pay more for heat and fund this plan — thus the parasitic system falsely sold as affordable and equitable.

At the heart of this problem is the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), which requires a policy to track and monitor progress towards Vermont’s greenhouse gas reduction requirements. The GWSA is forcing impulsive action and poorly designed, destructive legislation in order to develop this plan. With a clean heat standard, actions taken with federal money will generate carbon offsets/credits. Carbon is a commodity, and the carbon market is designed to serve corporations, offer an illusion of environmental concern, create market flows, micromanage industries, and provide a source of profit. S.5 and its clean heat standard forces the thermal sector into the emissions trading trap — a game where big business and bogus environmental justice win.

In the winter of 2020, Bloomberg published an article titled “How The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental group, became a dealer of meaningless carbon offsets.” Ben Elgin states, “JP Morgan, Disney, and BlackRock tout these projects as an important mechanism for slashing their own carbon footprint. By funding the preservation of carbon-absorbing forests, the companies say, they’re offsetting the carbon producing impacts of their global operations. But in all of those cases, the land was never threatened, the trees were already part of a well preserved forest.”

Vermont social media has been circulating ads for the Nature Conservancy’s Family Forest Carbon Program — The Nature Conservancy has become a middle man of carbon offsets and is now capitalizing on this extractive market and kicking a bit to the landowners for their land’s carbon sequestration capability. Does this interfere with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) carbon offset program?  Double counting is a strict no-no in corporate carbon markets, but who’s counting anyway? Welcome to the world of corporate environmental justice where all of nature becomes commodified and financialized to serve markets, hedge funds, big business and institutional investors.

This is a dangerous path. Should global corporations and publicly traded companies be able to buy bogus carbon offsets and increase their standing in BlackRock’s ESG- Environmental-Social-Governance corporate credit rating game? BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard have gained a monopolized level of control over a majority of corporations and manage $22 trillion. BlackRock has even been referred to as the fourth branch of government. Is this who should determine what environmental and social justice look like? A glimpse at corporate culture should easily give us the answer.

Greenwashing and bogus carbon markets are also rooted locally. In November, the Vermont Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a contract for Vermont Gas Systems (VGS) to purchase biogas or ‘renewable natural gas’ produced from New York landfills and waste owned by British Petroleum. This biogas would circulate through pipes up in Canada, never make it to Vermont, yet allow VGS to have an ongoing source of bogus carbon credits. This coupled with a clean heat standard allows for profits and false messaging about “renewable energy” that will only “increase rates a little bit for customers.”

Similar to biogas, biomass and biofuels are not clean, green renewable energy. In fact, most are highly destructive based on their life cycle analysis — often more than fossil fuels. However, because they are considered acceptable in S.5, the entities using these sources can produce clean heat credits to count towards their own requirements and sell on the market or to small fuel dealers who need them in order to continue to operate.

Due to this inequitable fraudulent carbon scheme, a request was made that in the S.5 bill, the delivery default agent (DDA) — the entity designated to provide services that generate clean heat measures — should be the Office of Economic Opportunity, a not for profit entity. This was ignored by Senate Natural Resources and Energy. Instead, it was determined that the DDA could be a for profit entity; this effectively would allow electric utilities, Vermont Gas and large wholesalers to continue to generate and purchase for profit carbon credits via greenwashing while small fuel dealers and their customers pay more to heat their homes.

Is this how Vermont does environmental and social justice? Vermont could demand a constructive solution and design a policy that allows for measuring progress and accountability and does not negatively impact the price of heating fuel or bring collateral damage to Vermonters, small businesses and our economy as a whole.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Edward Kimmel

5 thoughts on “Alison Despathy: S.5 is rotten to the core

  1. Thank you for your piece Alison Despathy , indeed the legislature is on a ideological insane and destructive path. S5 should have never come out the E and E Senate committee after the display of ignorance and understanding of the bill by Senators Bray , Mc Donald and Mac Cormack were exposed . The money requested from the appropriations Committee should have never been appropriated after the brilliant testimony of June Tierney exposed the weakness and dangers or the bill and when Senator Kitchel revealed to the rest of the committee the suffering and anxiety the bill was generating in her constituents and Senator Starr expressed his disagreements with the bill and the many negatives communications his constituents had expressed. Today the bill was eviscerated by the fuel dealers , the people whose job is actually to keep Vermonters alive when the outside temperatures could instead kill them . And finally some of the legislators who participate in those discussions should no longer sit at that table as their conflict of interest are evident ..

  2. This is a really well written piece.

    That this is no good and not wanted has been very clearly spelled out by the people- and with real information. Real data, real science, the most current thinking about where we are at today- (with banks now crashing from Woke policy).

    The people like this writer truly understand why this is no good- unlike the people pushing it that admit they don’t even understand it all.

    So to my mind, more emphasis now needs to go to the fact that this is truly really about power and control.. AND most likely a whole lot of corruption. The elected government is trying to steamroll right over the people saying NO.
    I have no doubt that palms have been greased to get this done.

    This S.5 Bill is but another weapon from the Liberals toolbox that they aim to forcibly install right into your living room as a money robbing device- which they insist will make you feel good.

  3. I have a simple alternative to the naziesq gwsa unaffordable heating act.. just make weatherization Fully Tax deductible (or payment if you have no tax to deduct) which in essence fixes 2 problems, 1 people would rather spend their money on themselves and 2 the government has less money to flush down the toilet of progressiveism .

  4. What’s really rotton to the core are the crazy liberals pushing this crap. They have destroyed my state! We are 2nd only to California in homelessness, 3rd most expensive to retire in and just wait for when they pass the no bail law and decriminalize all drugs law. If you think we have a homelessness problem now, it’s going to get a lot worse. These liberals don’t care anything about the rest of us. They want to push their agendas down our throat’s. The one that gets me is their 72 hour waiting period to buy a gun to prevent suicide, just a month after they got assisted suicide passed as a law????????? It’s time for normal Americans to rise up and remove the current government.

    • Hey Bob I’d like to add this to your statement.
      You are spot on when you say that the homelessness problem will get much worse (as with the crime and social rot that comes with that).

      It’s been very well proven that a great deal of the homeless population in CA, OR,WA, they are largely people from all over the country that have flocked to these areas because of these crazy laws in place that have turned major cities into disasters.. Vermont will absolutely become a magnet as these cities/states have..
      It’s all quite simple really, people are going to go where they can get away with all this.

      I’m old enough to remember DeInstitutionalization and I’d like to ask these people doing this how it’s more humane to allow the mentally ill to survive on the streets than in the hospitals they shut down.. and to create MORE of this, and to attract MORE of this is Criminal.

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