Bill to make climate action a mandate passes House with veto-proof majority

MONTPELIER — The House on Thursday approved the latest version of the Global Warming Solutions Act, passing the measure by a 105-37 vote — a large enough margin to override a veto from the governor.

The thrust of the bill, H.688, is to impose carbon emission reduction goals that would be put into statute as mandates.

This version most recently passed through the House Energy and Technology Committee, which approved it by a 7-2 vote last week.

Michael Bielawski/TNR

POWER GRAB: Rep. James Harrison, R-Chittenden (foreground), asks Rep. Tim Briglin, D-Thetford, how much power environmentalists are going to have over the Legislature to enforce carbon emission reductions.

An amendment to monitor the cost on society for the implementation of carbon-reduction policies was approved by lawmakers. Proposed by Rep. Bob Bancroft, R-Westford, it requires that the Joint Fiscal Office “shall prepare, or hire a consultant to prepare, an analysis of the economic, budgetary, and fiscal impacts of the Plan.” The provision received almost unanimous support via a voice vote.

The carbon emission reduction benchmarks outlined in the bill include meeting a 26 percent reduction in emissions by 2025 based on 2005 levels. By 2030 there must be a 40 percent reduction of 1990 levels, and by 2050 there must be an 80 percent reduction of 1990 levels.

The legislation would create a climate council to set the strategy to reach these benchmarks, and its recommendations would then be passed on to the Agency of Natural Resources for rulemaking and implementation.

One of the most contentious portions of the bill is it would allow citizens to sue the state if the mandates are not met. Potentially, a court could order the state to take further carbon-mitigation actions.

Another two amendments proposed by Bancroft would have taken away the ability to sue when or if the reduction targets are missed; the House rejected them by a strong voice vote.

Rep. Anne Donahue, R-Northfield, proposed an amendment to ensure that any initiative to come out of the climate council must pass through the Legislature first. This measure was defeated in a roll call vote by about two-thirds, largely along party lines.

Rep. Tim Briglin, D-Thetford, who introduced the latest version to the House floor, got into what he sees as pending climate catastrophes if actions aren’t taken.

“We are experiencing increasingly severe and frequent weather events in our communities,” he said. “More episodes of heavy rain and flooding, more extreme heat, more exposure to tick-born illnesses. In the last decade, Vermont has experienced 18 federal designated disasters.”

During a break for caucuses, House Minority Leader Pattie McCoy, R-Poultney, urged her Republican colleagues not to get into debates over this narrative from the climate alarmists.

“I don’t want us to be pigeon-holed into that ‘we don’t agree with climate change,'” she said.

She did say the state of Vermont isn’t going to make any tangible difference in global weather events.

“You have to put it in perspective because in the United States we are 51st — we are dead last in carbon emissions. Peurto Rico is even ahead of us,” she said. “We are one-tenth of one percent of all the entire carbon emitted in the United States.”

Rep. Robert LaClair, R-Barre Town, observed that emissions for Vermont lags by about three or four years. The latest official data for Vermont is currently from 2016. He points out this is going to make it difficult for policymakers to know if the emission-reduction benchmarks are being met.

“Is it reasonable to expect that the data that we are going to be using going forward to, one, build these plans and, two, to see that we’re adhering to the plan is always going to be two to three years old?” he asked.

Briglin confirmed this is going to be the case.

“I think it’s fair to say that the data is always going to be a couple of years behind,” he said.

Rep. James Harrison, R-Chittenden, asked about how much power is the Agency of Natural Resources is going to have when it comes to enforcing emission targets?

“Is there anything that ANR could rule in relation to taxes or fees? For example, could they institute a higher motor vehicle registration fee for a combustion engine for example?”

Briglin insists that such actions could not take place without legislative action.

“That was also a stone we turned over. … The short answer to that is no, ANR would not be able to impose a tax or a fee.”

In a recent commentary on the bill, Ethan Allen Insititute President Rob Roper expressed his desire to see the true cost implications.

“If there are political considerations that need to be taken into account, perhaps a prudent measure would be to replace the existing bill with a study examining what the rules and the costs of meeting these GHG goals would look like first, before the Legislature commits to make meeting them mandatory,” he wrote.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

35 thoughts on “Bill to make climate action a mandate passes House with veto-proof majority

  1. Just another example of Vermont’s delusion left trying to feel clever and morally superior. If every citizen moved out of Vermont and absolutely nothing took place here for the next 100 years, the difference in the effect on climate change wouldn’t even be measurable. If the self righteous left really cared about reducing carbon emissions, they would allow Vermonters to do business and not force them to commute to other states where they can earn a living. There are so many big problems that Montpelier could actually positively change, instead they decide to make life more difficult for working Vermonters and the elderly, while having exactly ZERO measurable effect on climate change.

    • Just out of curiosity, how do they expect to effectively measure anything? As small a state as we are, measuring the pollutants in the atmosphere is unrealistic because air does not sit still, they would be trying to measure a literal moving target. Same goes for measuring pollutants in the soil, just because the rain brought it down to our land, doesn’t mean we created it. It will be unenforceable.

      First rule of parenting, never give your kids an unenforceable rule. It undermines all the other rules.

  2. WE have to start working on the Senate; people like Bobby Starr, John Rodgers, and Dick Mazza, and of course Dick Sears.
    These are the most reasonable D’s in that whole building and they carry a lot of weight. I believe it can be done, through these people noted…… we HAVE TO try.

    Every Vermonter, please start writing letters, there is time to turn this around.

    • Perhaps we should also write to our President, when he said at one of his state of the union addresses, “the United States will NEVER be a socialist country” it warmed my heart, somebody gets it.

      One of the 50 States is headed in wrong direction, since the conservatives didn’t embrace their natural care for the environment, calling out the lies we were left with only two choices, do nothing or adopt United Nations propaganda, we get the latter because people have been “educated” that the world is going to end.

      How are we going to elect a new majority in 7 months with no plan or people? We need out side help, this is not constitutional.

      • Neil: With our current governor, “a never Trumper”, I doubt there will be anything coming from DC in this can of worms. I believe the administration is willing to let us go down so the example can be shown to the rest of the country. there is so much contrast between here and NH; one gets it and is going gangbusters in business and industry; we are floundering and our very survival w/o the climate B S, is eventually going to put us there anyhow.

        Just a matter of time, but the good fight must be waged.

  3. This bill has nothing to do with the environment, this whole movement is and has NEVER been about the environment.

    It’s all about socialism, following mandates from the United Nations, rather than our constitution.

    We need some serious intervention from some higher authority that loves America. This problem is obviously too big for us to handle. Some divine and federal intervention are in order.

    • Neil,
      You are so right, this is about overbearing government, a control mechanism, and a shift to more government that cares little about the individual and more about control and very little about your individual rights. We call it socialism and the proponents may not see what they are moving to but the social justice warriors are not your friends and I don’t want any part of it. If you look thoughtfully on the trend, you can clearly see what you’re in for. Please use your common sense and vote out these people who are starry-eyed, misfits, and blind and stop this nonsense now!!!!!

    • Neil,
      You are so right, this is about overbearing government, a control mechanism, and a shift to more government that cares little about the individual and more about control and very little about your individual rights. We call it socialism and the proponents may not see what they are moving to but the social justice warriors are not your friends and I don’t want any part of it. If you look thoughtfully on the trend, you can clearly see what you’re in for. Please use your common sense and vote out these people who are starry-eyed, misfits, and blind and stop this nonsense now!!!!!

  4. Have we suddenly become citizens of Russia? Did someone burn the Constitution or declare Marshall Law?
    The people of Vermont being forced to kowtow to a bunch of “Climate Crazies” who are hellbent on destroying freedom, liberty and every shred of common sense with a Climate Mandate which is not only FALSE but destructive.
    It’s time to put science fact before the fear mongering. These people need to be taken out of office ASAP.

    • Please go to the polls and vote out these moral crusaders way too much hype, hysteria, and hypocrisy. The people of this state need to pay better attention, use some common sense, and stop listening to the politicians tell us what we need. I grew up in Vermont, and I am frankly embarrassed and horrified at the craziness going on here. I get phone calls from friends and relatives out of state and they ask me if we have lost our marbles in this state! I’ve had just about enough!


    The ambitious “Global Warming Solutions Act” bill passed out of the Vermont House Energy and Technology Committee on a 7-2 vote and moved to the Vermont House Appropriations Committee, which rubber stamped the bill. A VT-House vote passed the bill, 105 – 37, a few days later. The VT-Senate is next to vote.

    The GWSA converts the CO2 aspirational goals of the Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP, to legal mandates.
    Under the legislation, State government must come up with rules, regulations and programs to reduce CO2. See table 1.

    Table 1
    Stage Reduction, % Million Mt Million Mt
    1 2025, 26% reduction relative to 2005 (Paris Climate Agreement) 10.240 in 2005 7.578 in 2025
    2 2030, 40% reduction relative to 1990 (Comprehensive Energy Plan) 8.650 in 1990 5.190 in 2030
    3 2050, 80% reduction relative to 1990 (Comprehensive Energy Plan) 8.650 in 1990 1.730 in 2050

    Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan: The capital cost for implementing the CEP would be in excess of $1.0 billion per year for at least 33 years, according to the Energy Action Network annual report. See URLs in article

    Spending on various government programs has averaged about $210 million per year, including Efficiency Vermont for at least the past 15 years, but Vermont CO2-eq emissions increased. See table 2.

    NOTE: The VT-DPS is responsible for calculating the CO2 of the VT Electrical Sector. It would be most helpful, if the VT-DPS would post its assumptions and calculations on its website, instead of just pronouncing the total CO2 and giving it to VT-ANR for insertion into its annual VT emissions report. See URL in article

    More Hydro Electricity from Hydro-Quebec

    Nuclear to the Rescue: GMP, with 77% of the Vermont electricity market, purchased from the Seabrook Nuclear plant significantly more low-particulate/kWh, very-low-CO2/kWh, very-low-cost/kWh, nuclear electricity in 2016, 2017 and 2018, which was a major help to reduce the Vermont electrical sector CO2 from 1.00 million Mt in 2015 to 0.19 million Mt in 2018. See table 2 and URL.

    Soon, GMP will need to replace the nuclear electricity, as it cannot rely on the Seabrook Nuclear plant to be generating in the future. If the replacement were with wind, solar and storage, the cost would be prohibitively expensive for the already near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy. See URLs in article.

    GMP should buy more no-particulate/kWh, very-low-CO2/kWh, very-low-cost/kWh hydro electricity from Hydro-Quebec in Canada. See Appendix.

    Table 2/Year 2015 2016 2017, est. 2018, est.
    CO2-eq Million Mt Million Mt Million Mt Million Mt
    Electrical sector 1.00 0.81 0.49 0.19
    All sectors 10.19 9.76 9.41 9.02
    % above 1990 18 13 9 4

  6. If this bill passes, as it seems veto proof….it will be a defining moment, a “teachable moment”….a singular polarizing moment….that Vermont is doomed to a Legislature forcused soley on “feel good” progressive agenda (thus raise taxes). And it will never change now because they have a super majority. I know baby boomers who cannot wait to get out of VT. Myself included (to Arizona). The people that want out are also part of the 25% of upper incomes who produce 65% of all income taxes and a majority of property taxes (not the 70% subsiized). I know people desperate to sell thier house (and leave) and cannot do so because you can no longer deduct sky high property taxes and sky high income taxes. The end result is that your high end house is worth less. A friend has tries to sell his house for THREE YEARS. VT appraised it for taxes at $619,000. He just lowered his price to $409,000…..over $200,00 BELOW APPRAISED VAUE….his P taxes are $16,500….and he has ZERO interest in – EVEN it at $409,000. Another couple I know had 110 acres outside Montpelier, huge high end house. They are into the property for close to $1.3 and appraisesed at $1.5 million. Over two years, no buyers. They finally sold it for a mere $785,000…or about $85 a square foot, WITH 110 acres! To build the house now woudl cost $275 a square foot! They are TWO specialist doctors and they left for New Hampshirs. To get OUT of VT, they sold their property for an almost $500,000 losss from what they put in to it! The STATE will get LESS PROPERTY TAXES now, because the NEW owers at $785k can PROVE that is FAIR MARKET VALUE – NOT the $1.5 million the STATE says!! So appraisal will have to drop to $785 K from about $1.5 million and the STATE and the TOWN will GET FAR LESS MONEY IN TAXES. This is going to unfold FAST all over Vermont outside of Chittenden County. TruNorth needs to follow what Bernie does…. plaster the State with….BUMPER STICKERS…and here is the sticker….a mere FIVE LETTERS says it all….: “VT G.O.N.”………..(Vermont: Get Out Now”)

  7. There is a lot of “climate shaming” going on – people fearing finger pointing and social abuses.

    Didn’t these people drive in a nice warm car to Montpeculair for their job in a nicely warm giant building with little insulation, and then vote to spend a $ton$ to fight climate change? And invite expen$ive lawsuits if the impossible “goals” were not achieved.

    Wasn’t it Minus 15 degrees when they voted to protect us from global warming !?!?!?!

  8. A “no” vote on the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) H.688

    I must first start out by acknowledging that the State of Vermont currently spends over $210 million a year on climate Mitigation efforts. This does not include water quality funding, individual or town climate Mitigation efforts.
    The Energy Information Administration’s report shows, Vermont has the lowest C02 emissions of all the states. In Vermont, 50% of our annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are captured in the growth of our trees (2019 report, Forest carbon sequestration working group). Vermont has been striving to achieve its “goals” of reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan.

    In the GWSA, Mitigation means the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Resilience and Adaptation means the capacity of individuals, communities, and natural and built systems to withstand and recover from climate events. It creates a Climate Commission, made up of eight agency heads seven members appointed by the Speaker and seven by the Senate as well as subcommittees.The Commission will create a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through benchmarks not “goals”. The benchmarks are, 26% GHG reduction by 2025, 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. This plan will then be adopted and administered through the rulemaking process at the Agency of Natural Resources(ANR) by December 1, 2022 to meet the January 1, 2025 reduction benchmark. If not able to meet these benchmarks, there is a “citizens right to sue” provision. This would not only slow our efforts during a suit it will also cost Vermonters litigation expenses, especially if the individual or group suing wins in court.

    The Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office (JFO), estimated an additional 4 to 6 new employees at ANR @ $112,000 each, per diem for non-agency and sub committee members and $200,000 for outside technical assistance. However, JFO was not able to give us an overall economic impact estimate on this bill because the plan has not been developed. This information is critical for me in making a decision whether my constituents can pay for this plan. Many of my colleagues state time and time again that “we cannot afford not to do this”. I say, “my constituents and all Vermonters need to understand how the plan will affect them and what the costs will be”. (note): The Energy and Technology committee recommended only three new ANR employees for a total of $972,000 over two years.

    In the 2016 GHG emission report, transportation accounts for 44.5%, residential and commercial heating 23.1%, agriculture 12.2% and electricity 8.3%. The efforts to meet these benchmarks would have to be extreme, particularly in the transportation and heating sectors for us to reach these benchmarks. The charge and authority, given to this Climate Commission and ANR will affect all Vermonters in a profound way, in their attempt to meet these benchmarks. Many of my colleagues and climate alarmist groups are saying we should do even more than just passing the GWSA. There are many bills in the various committees that address many more climate initiatives, from banning any new fossil fuel infrastructure, requiring mandates for energy efficient homes, TCI Transportation Climate Initiative (gas tax), and even a Vermont Green New Deal!

    I believe we should be addressing the more urgent needs of Adaptation and Resilience rather than climate Mitigation itself. As a builder and small farmer, I have dealt with the aftermath of severe climate events. We have seen the Millions of dollars in damage from storms such as Irene, 1997 flooding in the Orleans and Franklin County areas, 2019 Halloween flooding and many more local storm event damages. Should we also address Mitigation? Sure, but not without first understanding the costs and mandates associated with those efforts. For the above reasons and many others, I was one of the two “no” votes coming out of the Energy and Technology Comm. on H.688, the GWSA.


    Rep. Mark Higley Orleans/ Lamoille

    • Well thought out comments from Rep. Higley. While we can’t ignore the far reaching impact of climate change and water quality, I do agree we must be prudent with how our state spends hard earned taxpayer money. I believe in sharing the cost of keeping our beautiful state environmentally clean, but feel it should be proportionate to the amount of pollution generated.

  9. “I don’t want us to be pigeon-holed into that ‘we don’t agree with climate change,’”
    As long as legislators are spineless and afraid to be “pigeon holed” by arguing against the non existent “climate crisis” we will continue to get these ridiculous bills.
    The first person to sue the state will probably be David Blittersdorf when he’s denied a “certificate of public good” to build more useless environmentally destructive wind turbines.

  10. “I don’t want us to be pigeon-holed into that ‘we don’t agree with climate change,’”

    Kinda like the Venezuelans didn’t want to be pigeon holed by Maduro’s socialism Pattie???
    We not only have to get rid of the fascist leftist we have to get rid of the get along go along

  11. I wrote a response and it has not been published. I want to know how VT plans to regulate out-o-State drivers in big gas-consuming SUVs who use our interstates (especially I-81) mores than we do here in the NEKZ
    I also want to know if driving a little a Toyota Yaris iA with an average gas mileages of 4O miles to the gallon is considered a real threat to our environment.
    Only 1/5 of our electricity comes from our own power plants (looked it upZ(. Seems to me going electric will increase the costs of our purchased electricity. And who knows what powers those plants?

  12. I am wondering how this will keep large non-efficient fuel vehicles from out of state from continuing to use their large low fuel vehicles in VT. Here in the NEK, I drive I-91 between Glover and Lyndonville 3 days a week. I also drive on it to Newport and to White River area to go to s Lebanon. I drive a fuel efficient Toyota Yaris iA that averages 40miles/gallon. I see more out of state “big rigs” (as we call them) with low fuel milage than I do VT cars. I drive the speed limit and these huge vehicles pass me and are soon out of sight.
    How does our law about fuel efficiency affect these passers-through?
    That is why this bill seems uninformed and unenforceable to me. Is the plan to arrest everyone who drives a non fuel efficient car liable in some legal way? Is our 40 miles/gallon considered a reasonable car?

    • You or someone else in large numbers voted for them. Most of them aren’t from Vermont. Nationally the Dem/Prog party is dieing, here in Hooville people still believe the Dem/progs are gods to save the earth and give them freebees. We have the power to stop all of his by voting them out of office. Crying to the choir here will do nothing. If resistance to this nonsense does not materialize among the voting public just sit back, shut up and pay until you are forced to move. Do we not have enough evidence yet to prove to the public that they need to get inform, get off their asses and go vote these totalitarians out of office? TAKE BACK VERMONT!

  13. If we have any common sense, we will vote out these religious climate zealots as fast as we can!!!

    Where did we ever give them this crazy mandate to do this junk legislation?

    • Their mandate comes from uninformed voters and a media that censors anything conservative. The Vermont media is just another wing of the Dem/Prog party. As a voting public we are the frogs in the pot of warm water waiting to be boiled alive!

  14. If we have any common sense, we will vote out these religious climate zealots as fast as we can!!!

  15. When human beings believe that they can impact forces beyond their control, they are delusional and dangerous. We are tasked with being good stewards of our home, but we are not God, nor is our planet meant to be worshipped as a god.

    Bureaucrats and career politicians have no right to push their social justice agenda on the citizenry. In a state that is regulated to the point of insanity and taxed beyond belief, we cannot afford more of either. These climate alarmists have the right to their opinions and may protest or picket to their hearts’ content, but they were elected to serve their constituents, not themselves. Our state cannot afford more taxes, and it is a slap in the face of independent Vermonters to be “encouraged” to switch to electric vehicles a la TCI.

    Vermont is on a precipice – we are nearly bankrupt, our constitutional rights are being stripped from us and those under the Dome are blind, deaf and dumb. This November is do or die – if we do not upend the progressive majority in the Legislature, the Vermont we love will cease to exist. If you treasure this state and our heritage as much as I do, please consider running for office as a conservative. Or at the very least, encourage friends and family to vote RED in the Primary on August 11 and again on November 3. Let us rise up and create a RED tsunami that floods the State House, washing away the corruption, lies and deception.

    • The Vermont that I grew up in is already gone. The leftist invasion has infected all of government, education, the media and politics. What’s left? To turn this around everyone must be engaged. It has taken years for the left to ruin this state with out of state political funding. They are using Vermont as the host for social engineering, Social justice warrior crap and climate alarmist indoctrination of our children. The schools have been politicized flying political flags, using the kids for activist political demonstrations and using young kids as their front line. After all who wants to hurt the children? It’s all orchestrated for the uninformed voter to keep them in office. Empty store fronts and retail spaces can be seen in all of our small towns and cities and people are taxed to death. How much more evidence do we need to show that this is not working for the people of Vermont, the real people who do the work? Try to comment on VTDigger. If the article isn’t going their way they stop the voting or burry the article. I am just so tired of all the complaining with nothing changing. I am thankful to True North for their reporting and more people need to see it.

      • I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment with one exception. In my heart, I do not believe that Vermont is completely gone. True, we are hanging on by a thread, but Vermonters are known to be excellent seamstresses and tailors! The dramatic changes to our culture and heritage have shocked many into action! I am reminded of Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys. They took Ft. Ticonderoga in a surprise attack, securing the Revolutionary War’s first victory over British. We have the capability to seize our broken, unconstitutional political system and crush the progressive tyrants in Montpelier. Will this be easy? No, it will take great effort and sacrifice. Will it repair the damage all ready done? Not right away. It takes time to repeal and restructure. Can it be done? Not only can it, it MUST be done if there is any hope of rescuing our little piece of Heaven on Earth. Please join together, rally friends and family, get out to vote and be a part of saving our Green Mountains.

        • Kathy, Thank you for your comment. Here’s what I said at the beginning of my comment “To turn this around everyone must be engaged”. I have been fighting these progressives for a long time and do not plan to quit. I also stated above that just complaining changes nothing but make us feel better for a few minutes. Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys would be arrested and shamed in the liberal media today. People read headlines and move on to the next one never reading the actual facts or lies in the body of the article. No movement can steam roll change without a solid leader. That is not our current governor. He spent 16 years partying with the same people who are destroying the state. He doesn’t support our president and he is a Vermonter. His good friend John Campbell was a gun grabbing, freedom stealing Vermont senator and an invader from New York. I have to hold my nose to vote for our governor ever since he turned on his supporters. The choice this November will probably be Scott running against Zuckerman. I will hold my nose again because a governor Zuckerman is as bad as it gets. I will be in the background fighting these progrissves but we need a court case challenging the voting process and the 1960’s supreme court decision that changed the makeup of our senate. Keep up the fight,TAKE BACK VERMONT!

    • I’m glad to hear what you have spoken. I also feel that not everything that we do and feel can be legislated.

  16. Sue the state. These legislators are clueless. I guess they want people to sue them out of their houses for similar reasons. Where did they get educated. Unbelievable.

  17. All the time spent by these clowns chasing their tales would be far better spent if they were to address and SOLVE the more pressing issues. Question: will all this global warming histeria accomplish anything but make a hand full of legislators feel better????? In my view, for what it’s worth, these folks would serve Vermonters far more effectively if they worked on the real pressing problems. The list is quite long. In no order of urgency, how about under funded pensions, our failing schools and the rising cost of education with a declining school population, revising Act 250 to make it more comparable with today’s market, make Vermont a more business friendly state, stem the flow of our young and bright leaving the state, rising fees and property taxes with little or anything to show for them!!! How’s that for starters????

  18. Short of having their very own volcano, there’s nothing Vermont can (or should) do to alter their weather or their climate.

  19. Just another Liberal Agenda boondoggle that will just be another tax burden, on well you
    guessed it, …… the taxpayers, Nah, we were told NO taxes !!

    Can we please start voting these fools out, we won’t have to worry about carbon emission
    killing us………most of us will freeze or starve to death by funding this project.

    The Green Mountain State has had it’s clean air, long before we had Liberal Legislators,
    wonder what’s changed ??

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