Annette Smith: Legislature taken over by a religious cult

This commentary is by Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment. She lives in Danby.

Someone has to say it: Vermont’s Legislature has been taken over by a religious cult. No longer the representatives of all Vermonters, the Statehouse is populated by a climate claque whose only villain is carbon emissions. Nothing else matters to these true believers. They are driven by the fear that if the monster of fossil fuel emissions is not vanquished, the world will end.

This single-mindedness has been codified in the Global Warming Solutions Act, which has only one mandate: reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It created the Climate Council, whose majority is appointed by House and Senate leadership.

Annette Smith

Annette Smith is the director for Vermonters for a Clean Environment

With no guidance to assure representation from all parts of Vermont, the result is an elite group of mostly well-off people from the ‘Burlington to Montpelier bubble’ along I-89, with a couple of outliers near I-91. Only two of the 23 Climate Councilors live in towns with a high energy burden (both are Administration appointees) while 21 live in towns with low energy burdens. Nobody on the Climate Council is from the Northeast Kingdom, southwestern Vermont, or any of the towns with the highest energy burden.

No worries, though, because the Climate Council is required to assure a “Just Transition” – social equity will be part of the solutions they recommend.

That’s not how the Council’s most prominent recommendation, the Clean Heat Standard, is playing out in the Senate Natural Resources and Energy committee, where the discussion has degenerated into an embarrassing display of callous disregard for Vermont’s low- and moderate-income populations.

The first sign that the cult had taken over the political arena came with the attack on Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore and her effort to do the impossible: figure out what the Clean Heat Standard might cost. Impossible because S.5, the bill now renamed the Affordable Heat Act, has so many variables it defies rational analysis.

Sec. Moore’s honest attempt to provide the committee with an estimated cost was immediately reacted to by Jared Duval, the seemingly self-anointed King of the Climate Council who has been given hours of time before the committee while other witnesses are crammed into a few minutes. Duval called Sec. Moore’s analysis “inappropriately selective, improperly done and deeply misleading.”

Duval’s attack on Sec. Moore was unexpected. I logged countless hours monitoring Climate Council meetings, including the many subcommittees, and observed that the Administration appointees who are mandated to participate in the Climate Council are “all in” on meeting the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act.

Given that they work for a Republican governor, one might expect some foot dragging – but that is not what I’ve observed. One time, administration appointees objected to a specific action that undercut ongoing work being done by state agencies; a life cycle analysis that will take much of this year to complete. As they are in the minority, they were overruled by the House and Senate appointees.

But because politics, not science or accounting, is in control, Sec. Moore’s good faith effort to expose the very large up-front costs of S.5 was met with disparagement from the committee chair. King Jared’s modeling showing there would be a net savings does not address the fact that installing a $5000 heat pump with a 75% subsidy still requires the homeowner to come up with $1250, and that on-bill financing offered for weatherization will add to already-burdensome debt loads, especially for low-income Vermonters.

The kicker came when the author of the Clean Heat Standard, Richard Cowart, who serves on the Climate Council while simultaneously marketing the Clean Heat Standard to other states (his Regulatory Assistance Project got a $200,000 contract to sell it to Massachusetts) told the Senate committee that meeting Vermont’s emissions reduction mandate is incompatible with social equity. Never mind that the overriding principle that is supposed to guide the Climate Council’s work is a “Just Transition.”

Richard Cowart has had other big ideas for Vermont energy consumers. As Chair of the Public Service Board in the 1990s, Cowart actively advocated for deregulation of the utility sector in advance of the Public Service Board hearing testimony on the concept.

Fortunately, House Speaker Mike Obuchowski stopped Vermont from deregulating, but many states did restructure their electric utilities. The result: customers now pay more for electricity in those deregulated states.

Like electricity deregulation, the attempt to force wholesale fuel dealers to buy or create credits will raise costs for Vermonters. It is a bad idea that needs to die. Vermont has real problems as a result of the changing climate that we need to address. Solutions are best focused on reducing consumption, weatherization, resiliency, agricultural practices, protecting biodiversity, and an equitable process for locally distributed renewable energy that serves our communities.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Gillfoto and Annette Smith

33 thoughts on “Annette Smith: Legislature taken over by a religious cult

  1. Vermont Republicans should be proud and rejoicing the bills their legislators are advancing, which they indirectly voted for by running candidates that stood for something. Instead of being resentful, they should happily accept the new taxes, the new gun laws, and the further deterioration of their schools. At least we stood for something and now we stand on the steps of the Capitol peering in through the windows.

    Primaries and Elections have consequences.

  2. There is no climate catastrophe.

    We can see this clearly in balloon data, which is why alarmist scientists never refer to concrete balloon data to “prove” that CO2 is affecting the atmospheric temperature. Catastrophic CO2 warming is simply not evident in the balloon data, something climate scientist John Christy alerted us to some years ago. He was ignored by the mainstream.

    They love the narrative! They hate the science that contradicts the narrative. The narrative tells them that they must hate the people who hate the narrative.


    • I think that you are grasping at straws in your argument. The vast majority of scientists recognize the need to make changes in our energy consumption to minimize damage to our planet. If they are wrong, we will end up with a cleaner planet. If we ignore the issue and those who fight change are wrong, we may face catastrophic damage to our ecosystem. Either way economic hardship will impact the less fortunate. I personally believe that we should choose the safer and cleaner alternative.

      • I think that should be the vast majority of government funded Scientists. It’s like pushing racism they go where the money is. If we were truly looking for clean energy we would be building more nuke and hydro power plants. Speaking of dirty, mining in the US has been regulated almost out of existence but we are going to rely on other countries doing the “dirty” work mining toxic Lithium and and other finite minerals needed for ev batteries. Replacing all ic auto’s with electric will deplete the known reserves of lithium, copper and other minerals needed and leave toxic batteries polluting the earth. Not much of a solution if you ask me.

      • We have balloon data from 10s of thousands of balloons from about the 1960s covering the arctic to the tropics, launched twice each day. These data should show some effect of CO2 in our atmospheric temperature profile, because in essence what CO2 must be doing is distorting the lapse rate. Models predict this.

        Yet as John Christy demonstrated and as the Connollys showed, there’s no distortion of the atmospheric temperature profile as predicted, and this dirty little secret is likely why climate scientists never refer to balloon data as concrete proof of their theory. That data doesn’t show it.

        Although of course CO2 radiates infrared, it appears that what climate scientists ignored and what balloon data as well as satellite data show, is that the atmospheric pressure profile dominates over radiative effects: temperature cools with decreasing pressure, period, and according to well-established laws. There isn’t even any distortion of this temperature profile with more-or-less humidity, as one might expect, since H2O is the most abundant greenhouse gas, beyond that predicted by the lapse rate formulas that have no terms for radiative effects (that should be a clue.)

        Those inclined toward a scientific view of global warming based on hard data might be interested in looking at skew-T diagrams.

        CO2 catastrophe is pseudoscience based on a radiative paradigm presumed to reign supreme. Balloon data does not support this supremacy.


        • This is a spurious argument, Kevin. Manufacturing solar panels and EV cars both create massive amounts of pollution and absorb energy. Neither has any net benefit in the big picture: indeed, if the world converted to these technologies overnight (even IF that were possible), it would expend most of the planet’s resources in one go. Cash-to-clunkers, ethanol production, and even recycling programs have all created illusions of change while being counterproductive. It is worse than inaction because it results in a false sense of accomplishment. The definition of “boondoggle.”

  3. I have lived in Vt. for 79 years and raised my family here, Vt. was one of the best state’s in our country for many years and I find myself ready to move from the state I used to love. Our little state thinks now we can save the world by taxing us more by your electric cars and windmills & tax credits for all your heat pumps and credits to get rid of oil and carbon tax for all Vermonter’s, your driving all of us mid income residents from this state. We no longer can afford to live here.

  4. All you have to do is watch the channel 3 news to see what’s wrong, WCAX. Listen to VPR if you want to be sickened. This is just two examples of how the media has dumbed down the population. Mom and Pop democrat still think the party is their savior. Little do they know that the progressives have infiltrated the party and now could care less about Mom and Pop Vermonter. And you can’t change their minds. McDonald and Sears are to good examples. They both have decades in the senate and have engineered the destruction of the state. Add to that the legislature is a foreign body. The majority of members are not from Vermont and have no connection to our culture and customs. We all know the problems, at least those of us paying attention. The problems and lack of solutions are all planned because instead of electing a legislature of Vermonters, who would work to solve our state problems, the voters have elected an ideology. This is what happens when a virus invades a body. In Vermont’s case, the virus killing the host is progressivism. As an example, Phil Baruth and Martin LaLonde, both from out of state and here to message their egos and spread the progressive disease that has failed wherever followed. So, what can we do about it since we can’t vote our way out? Who has the answers or the money for the lawsuits, where are the republicans?

    • Yes all those decades long Legislators are the ones with the State House power to push the agenda thru. However, none of the people you mention are that intelligent, IMO. They believe what they are told to believe and they are are fed it from enviro lobby groups and activists, all over Montpelier. But the “rainmaker” who is really the culprit “behind the curtain”….is the Conservation Law Foundation….CLF. . It’s they who control so much of demanded legislative agenda. The CLF is the one feeding all the “save the planet” lies….to Sen. MacDonald, Sen. Sears, Sen. Baruth etc…..they are nothing but “mouthpiece puppets” for their real “master”….the CLF. The terrible thing is that the CLF is not a citizen elected body, nor are they appointed by any Gov’t branch….the CLF has controlled so much in VT for about 30 years…and the list is long of their terrible actions….Essex Circ highway, Lowes, Stowe Mtn parking lot…you name it, they’ll sue to stop it… thru lobbying and they excel at ‘LAWFARE-WARFARE “. When the book & obituary is someday written on the downfall of VT, the CLF deserves the longest chapter.

  5. It’s kind of you to call them a religious cult, because this is what a Godless (or goddess-less) government looks like. Apparently, they despise independent women: single women, widows, single moms, the disabled, and the poor. But I think the deeper backstory is twofold: 1). This is a Soviet-style collective punishment of the Northeast Kingdom for refusing any more industrial wind, probably backed by the usual suspect(s); and 2.) It is an attack on our (local) food supply, as is happening in so many instances around the country. Many Vermont farmers cannot go on, given the rising prices of diesel and gas. Add a huge carbon tax, and they will shut down all the sooner.

    Also, I can’t help recollecting how real leaders care for ALL the people. Back in the day, my cousin Governor Walsh named Boston Mayor James Michael Curley “The Mayor of the Poor.” For all his faults, that is what Curley was. And so, by the power vested in me as (exiled) Princess of Massachusetts, I dub these ill-counseled rulers and their shill counselors “The Slayers of the Poor.”

  6. Thank you Annette Smith this commentary. The question is, we what we can do to elect more people to oppose such flawed policies. Governor Scott who has consistently vetoed this impractical and costly legislation keeps getting elected by wide margins whereas the overall Republican brand has in many places in our State become such that people will simply not vote for a Republican.

    If we truly want to stop this sort of legislation, we need to honestly address what Scott is doing right and how we might replicate his electoral success.

    • I would remind you, John that Phil Scott as leader of the Vermont Republican Party has done nothing to promote the election of new republicans. This is according to those who sit at the top of the republican party. Accordingly, he never does anything to help the party to expand. During his time as governor, he has lost his veto power by not helping to retain or bring on new republicans. And the truth is, that liberals are the voters who have helped retain his office because their last two candidates were worse than the republican choice. So now we have no protection from the progressive onslaught.

      • Actually Dano, I got a mailer from John Klar before the last election with a picture of Scott and he together. This eiven though Klar earlier ran against him in a primary and has been extremely critical of Scott.

        Thinking back to other Republican Governors like Dick Snelling and JIm Douglass, I do not recall them doing a lot of retail politicing for candidates or in fact what they did do making much difference. What was the deciding factor in these elections (discounting those who always voted straight tickets) was how hard they worked and the connections they made with the eclectorate.

        The problem now is that more people vote straight party tickets, more of these are Democrats or Progressives, and most people do not take the time to discern between candidates. Phil Scott is the exception to this ,even with his stand on climate change, pensions , and not raising taxes. Why he keeps winning in this hightened partisan time, may be worth further consideration for those of us wanting a change in Montpelier.

        • Your mailer was a picture of me supporting Phil Scott, not the other way around. It was not authorized by the Governor, and in fact he formally disowned it. You are thus giving him credit where none is due. The reason he keeps winning is that he is so moderate as to not have much conservatism left. Meanwhile, the Left portrays all Republicans as MAGA extremists, including me — who distanced myself from both Donald Trump and Phil Scott when I challenged Phil Scott. The Left does this because it is indeed a woke cult that strives for a one-party totalitarianism. It is almost there in Vermont.

  7. There is no solution or protection from nut cases who intend to destroy the lives of normal people, as long as the nut cases exist. They will never respond to reason or facts they don’t like.

    We will either have to move to America, or personally get oil in 5 gal. cans for our furnaces from MA, NH and NY, along with stripping the mountain sides for fire wood for those who were smart enough to put in a wood heating system.

  8. One cannot truly fix a problem until one goes to the real roots of the problems..

    If your house is falling apart, slapping paint on it is not going to fix it, you have to get in there and do the work of tearing out the rot that is causing the house to break down.

    The Climate Cultists are the not the problems per se- they are the Products of the problems, the are the results of the problem.
    They are the sore caused by the cancer.

    Corruption is a weapon, first of all. Understand that.
    We all know that China has infiltrated our country and our states to a huge degree.
    What China is doing is paying people to hand us the rope to hang ourselves.
    What do you think that the results will be of all of what the Vermont legislature will bare?
    I see a whole lot of extremism that will be the end of the state– yes, you will be cold and eating bugs.
    That that people would wind up there certainly looks like the fallout of an attack to me.

    We need to focus on the corruption and ridding our states of the effects of the Chinese infiltration.
    Follow the money and remove the Chinese puppets selling their wares..that will be the death of the state.

    And if you don’t believe me, start listening to Gordon Chang, Peter Thiel, and Mark Cuban.. Elon Musk is showing us the ‘behind the scenes’ that have supported this scam..
    The race card, chasing ‘equity’, the Transgender weapon.. the Climate Cultists, the drive to normalize pedophilia.. it’s ALL layers of one thing: CHINA and the Wokesters being created that are driving us right off the cliff- by design!
    This is all part of the Woke Agenda that smart people are fully understanding and ENDING (like Florida is).

    Go read the text of Putin’s recent speech calling this all out.
    Here is a 3 minute clip of it.
    Many on the internet is noting how interesting it is that it’s Putin rising up to call out the depravity that these cultists are dragging us down into.

  9. Se. Mark MacDonald better watch his mouth. It is devastating to VT when he stated on video that he…”Doesn’t care about the poor people in Vermont, we are out to change the world.”. Really? Vermont has an appox $2 billion in State debt and it has appox $4.5 BILLION in unfunded UNION pension and retiree heath care….about $6.5 billion total in liability that has to be funded. Since VT can’t raise taxes as much as they wish, that leaves borrowing money. BINGO. The PRIME RATE is now 7.75% and maybe goes higher. The cost of VT to finance lavish spending to “Save the world” will be massive cost of interest to pay. Again, PRIME RATE is 7.75% . VT is not a prime credit. Mr. MacDonald better pray that the Credit rating agencies for VT do NOT see what he foolishly said. They will be aghast and would likely LOWER VT’s credit rating which INCREASES huge the interest cost to borrow – to “save the world”.. It is a travesty what Sen MacDonald said, but wake up…it is TRUTH in what the Legislature wants to do..and a recipe for fiscal disaster that cannot be funded. VT is run by total idiots and they all are part of a brainwashed Cult.

    • mcdonald will never “watch his mouth”. There is no reason for him to do so- intact he is revered by the climate crowd for saying the ridiculous things he does say. Because of Vermont’s current super-majority liberal/socialist politics, There is no entity left to call him on his hubristic statements. None.
      What? baruth is going to censure him? Not hardly. macdonald is saying just what baruth and krowinski want him to, at to peril to themselves. Whom exactly will take mcdonald or bray or 80 other legislators to task for defying their oath/affirmation of office? No one will. Vermont has a toothless ethics law, written by the legislature- nope, there’s no help there. Breaking the oath of office is between the legislator and God- and breaking the affirmation of office puts the legislator under penalty of perjury. No help there.
      This rests entirely on the electorate to resolve in November of 2024. If past performance indicates future results, then mcdonald will be continuing his diatribe in Montpelier for years to come.
      Sorry folks, as a friend often quotes, “if you build a monster, you’ve got to feed that monster”
      and we certainly have created a very hungry monster in our legislature. Anyone like to discuss the tax increases required this year to feed that beast?

    • You got it Jeffrey.. and I can just see the headlines:
      “Vermont man destroys Vermonters to save the world”.

      Yeah, that will really go over well..

  10. This is exactly why there is an exodus from Vermont and that the vermont government needs to pay people to move here. Sure it’s a great place to live but if you can’t afford it, it’s time to leave. Just like DBean stated, these efforts won’t effect anything in the overall picture. Go after China if you want to make a difference but clearly the Biden administration would NEVER do that.

  11. Any plan that raises the cost of fuel to low income and fixed income Vermonters, is not fair or necessary. Time to vote these elitist, liberals out of office and bring some common sense back to Montpelier. They are totally out of touch with anyone but their rich buddies.

  12. Climitard – ’klimit’tard/ A person that believes the climate can be changed by paying a CO2 tax to the government.

  13. laws like this will be the end to VT as we know it and I dont mean for the better. we must do whatever it takes to stop it.

  14. What happens if we get attacked by foreign forces with nukes the power grid goes down all we have is wood,gas or oil to keep us warm with a generator in some cases this needs to be thought through more openly and effectively for a long term solution

  15. Vermont has lost its values, the values I grew up with are no longer, instead all we have
    is liberal nonsense that’s killing the state, a cancer from within and we let it happen.

    All the climate crusaders Vermont has amounted to nothing, just feel-good nonsense being
    pushed at your expense and it will continue, wake up people !!

    • CHenry, Vermont has lost it’s values because there are now so few Vermonters in Vermont.

      There has been a mass exodus out of the state for many decades- leaving a hollowed out shell that was filled with what are now cultists, extremists, and delusional nutcases.

      Vermont has wound up being a piece of real estate that all these grifters are fighting over who will Rule and Loot –leaving Native Vermonters in Refugee Status.

  16. when 90% of the government is only beholding to moloch they need another religion to offset the killing of babies and destruction of VT’s youth. Hence their new religion is the climate hoax. If their egos get any bigger I hope their heads explode. Thinking they can change the climate when the main co2 offenders will delete any savings from this minuscule dot on the world map. One can only hope the real and only god takes care of business where they are concerned.

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