State carbon reduction study bucks trends, states ‘benefits will exceed the cost’

Michael Bielawski/TNR

TAX OR MANDATES: Whether by carbon pricing or green energy mandates, the green agenda is to eliminate all carbon dioxide emissions from Vermont. A presentation to a joint meeting of the House Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife and the House Energy and Technology committees said the goal was attainable.

MONTPELIER — A much-anticipated report commissioned last year by the state of Vermont says putting a price on carbon could reduce CO2 emissions without hurting the economy or low-income residents.

When it comes to studies on carbon taxes and green energy mandates, there’s been a sharp contrast between what’s paid for by the state versus what comes from the private sector.

Such was the case Tuesday when Washington, D.C.-based Resources for the Future released its study on decarbonization methods in Vermont.

In contrast with other research showing that methods of reducing carbon are costly to businesses and taxpayers, RFF’s report concludes that carbon reduction initiatives will not only be gentle on the economy, but will result in a net economic benefit for the state.

Tuesday afternoon, study authors Marc Hafstead and Wesley Look presented their findings to a joint meeting of the House Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife and the House Energy and Technology committees.

The researchers found that in order to get carbon emissions down to the goals policymakers are striving for, both carbon pricing and non-carbon pricing schemes will be necessary. The ultimate goal is to achieve “net-zero” carbon emissions by 2050.

Carbon pricing is essentially the carbon tax. The four proposals reviewed in the study are the ESSEX Plan, the Western Climate Initiative, the Transportation and Climate Initiative, and the “high carbon price” plan. Carbon pricing also includes the cap-and-trade schemes, which essentially involve buying and selling carbon credits.

The second group is the non-carbon pricing ideas. These include green energy mandates such as renewable energy portfolio standards, which require that electric utilities use increasing percentages of green energy over time. These can also be green energy incentives such as subsidies and rebates for electric cars and solar installations.

On the key findings page, the study acknowledges that even with using both non-pricing and pricing efforts in combination, it will be difficult to achieve 26 to 28 percent below 2005 carbon emission levels by 2025, which is the next big goal on the horizon.

“Vermont has a high share of emissions from transportation and heating fuel use; both sectors are difficult to decarbonize through carbon pricing or non-pricing policies,” the report states.

One recommendation is to use the revenue from carbon pricing to fund non-pricing initiatives like electric cars. However, by taking this approach, it becomes harder to make the tax revenue neutral.

“If we use a revenue-neutral policy, then you all will be looking for somewhere to pay for those [non-pricing] policies,” Look said.

All the number crunching by Resources for the Future seemed to indicate that a net economic benefit would result through rebates and improved environmental conditions, as well as by having healthier Vermonters.

According to the study, the initial “Change in Economic Welfare per Household” ranges from minus $28 to $240 depending on the carbon pricing plan. However the estimated “Environmental Benefits per Household” ranges from $56 to $317.

“We project that the benefits per household will exceed the cost for every single policy we look at,” Hafstead said.

Hafstead said some of those environmental benefits were calculated using “social cost of carbon estimates.” At one point he was asked specifically about the impacts of carbon mitigation for Vermont.

“Obviously those impacts are global,” Hafstead said. “We were not able to do a kind of Vermont specific [analysis] and so we can’t say specifically what those benefits are for Vermont.”

These rosy predictions are not what other studies, such as those highlighted by the Ethan Allen Institute, have indicated.

One report by EAI’s policy analyst David Flemming applied the Essex Plan cost/rebate formula to six Vermonters, and it found in some cases households at around $20,000 income were still losing several hundred dollars even after collecting hefty rebates. Of the four carbon tax proposals analyzed by Resources for the Future, the Essex Plan was among the more mild proposals.

Rep. Timothy Briglin, D-Thetford and the chair of the House Energy Committee, asked about the policies’ impacts on Vermont’s most economically vulnerable.

Hafstead answered that redistribution of carbon pricing revenues should mitigate impacts on lower-income Vermonters.

“They are better off monetarily then they would have been otherwise,” he said. “We would say that this is reducing inequality, but what I haven’t shown you here, and isn’t in the report, is if you use the revenues to reduce, say, wage income [reduce income taxes], that doesn’t give as large of a benefit to low-income households and it could actually exasperate the inequality.”

Gov. Phil Scott ran in 2016 largely on an anti-carbon tax platform. However, his appointed climate action commission is on board with some non-pricing strategies, such as subsidizing electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, on social media, stakeholders are already making their opinions known. The fuel industry, in particular, isn’t thrilled with the authors’ conclusions.

Others tweeted that to meet current carbon reduction goals, Vermont is going to have to sacrifice because carbon pricing alone in the form of a carbon tax won’t be enough to help the state meet its CO2 reduction goals.

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

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

27 thoughts on “State carbon reduction study bucks trends, states ‘benefits will exceed the cost’

  1. I’m getting the impression the montpeculiarites haven’t seen the Euro news lately? All
    them pi$$ed off yellow vests (protesting carbony baloney) could soon be coming to a theater them.



    The authors of the pro-unilateral carbon tax say: About 200,000 heat pumps would save Vermonters money.

    That is a gross untruth/obfuscation

    That is only true, if a high carbon tax is placed on heating fuels

    That INTERFERENCE IN THE MARKET PLACE would make heat pumps look good by comparison.

    But that interference would save NO MONEY.

    It would merely INEFFICIENTLY SHIFT money from on unlucky pocket to a politically favored pocket


    – A heat pump in an average Vermont house will provide annual FUEL COST savings AVERAGING about $200/year/heat pump, based on a VT-DPS survey of about 140 EXISTING installations.

    – An average Vermont house would need its EXISTING heating system for about 66% of its heating requirements; the heat pump would supply the other 34%.

    What about other heat pump costs, such as for leasing or amortizing, and for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance?
    Add those costs and the heat pump would be a net loser.

    Now such a duped Vermonter would have TWO systems, each with an amortizing cost, plus costs for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance

  3. “MONTPELIER — A much-anticipated report commissioned last year by the state of Vermont says putting a price on carbon could reduce CO2 emissions without hurting the economy or low-income residents.”

    Are our elected officials stupid or do they think we are?

    • No, our elected officials are not stupid, but some of them think we the people are. Especially those officials who have been running the state for too long. When you accept theories as fact, you open up the door to big disappointments. Global warming, carbon emissions, and evolution are some of the theories that are touted as facts, when in fact they are only half-baked theories of the human mind. So many statistics are massaged to make the case for the agendas of our elected officials. We are losing our humanity, our morals, and our ability to think for ourselves. Worst of all, our nation is crumbling under the weight of misinformation propagated by those who think they know better.

      Do you recall this? We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. What part of this does our Media and elected officials not get? What part of this exist today?

      Personally, I believe, we the people are still a majority in this nation. Until we, as a majority, decide to put a stop to all the nonsense that is taking place, then we must suffer the consequences of decay.

  4. CO2 emissions from volcanoes don’t count. One volcano emits more “junk” than all of mankind. Alaska has the most (many active, seen them when there) in the US and in the Pacific circle of volcanic activity.

    Will the Montpelier crowd try to stop or regulate them? They have that mentality.

    • Mother Gaia cannot hurt us, sez the hippy trust funders and just plain red diaper doper babies. They do not acknowledge any carbon “pollution” from nature. You may have noticed their insistence upon man-made CO2 (which cannot be distinguished from the natural type).

  5. Should anyone be surprised? In typical Dem/Prog/Lib style, they root around until they find info which supports their position. If twenty studies debunk the viability of one of their goals and one study supports it, then it’s wow, let’s proceed. They only listen to “experts” agreeing with them. This is hardly the first time and if they keep getting reelected, which is unfortunately a forgone conclusion, nothing will change and things will get worse.

  6. It’s true, “You can keep your insurance and you can keep your doctor, and you will pay an average of $2,400.00 less in premiums a year” It’s as true as this…………..

  7. Driving during and after the big snow, every solar panel was covered by a foot of sticky snow.
    30 below, driving wind, and we want to ‘rely” on solar panels to keep us lit, warm, in jobs, run our medical equipment etc…………

    Snow shuts off solar power, sometimes for days.

    Nuclear power for all, with breeder reactors to recharge the “used” fuel.

    Reports are for estimated 1500 private jets arriving for the carbon talks at Swiss ski resort.

    • Dour,
      Wind and solar are minimal or near zero about 30% of the hours of the year in New England, per ISO-NE hourly grid operating data.

      Any high levels of wind and solar on a windy sunny day, would require gas turbines to quickly vary their outputs to offset the quickly varying outputs of wind and solar so the grid supply is exactly equal to the user demand.

      Batteries could also be used, but at about $500/kWh, for a system that would last 12 to 15 years, that would be off the charts expensive.

      In addition, any electricity passing through the batteries has a round trip loss of about 25%, from high voltage AC to high voltage AC, which has to be offset with additional generation

      In addition, the outputs of batteries deteriorate about 10 to 15% over their lifetime, which means one has to install additional capacity, kWh, to offset that loss.

      Wind and solar are cripples.
      Their variable, intermittent outputs need the support of other generators for peaking, filling in and balancing

      • Hi William, Data available says that when wind velocity gets too high, they have to shut the Mills down I believe like aircraft props by “feathering”. I can’t understand why they don’t have speed limiting internal centrifugal clutches to keep the Mills operating by the amount of Feathering prop angles regardless of the air velocity to maintain rotation and producing.

        Am I too complicated? I’m a pilot and have some aeronautical skills.

        • Tom,

          Good question.

          Blades are feathered when winds exceed allowable speeds.
          The turbines’ output would be MAINTAINED at about 95% of rated.
          Such conditions are very rare in New England, may be up to 100 hours per year.
          The AVERAGE out put of ALL wind turbines in New England is about 25 to 28%; it varied with the windiness of the year.

          If high levels of wind and solar were built out after a few decades, and the gas turbine, nuclear, coal and oil plants were closed down (according to RE proponent wishes), and with existing connections to nearby grids, and with existing reservoir/run-of-river hydro plants, and with existing other sources, the NE grid would require 6 to 8 TWh of storage to cover:

          1) 5 to 7 day wind/solar lulls, which occur at random, and
          2) Seasonal variations (storing wind when it is more plentiful during fall, winter and spring, and when solar is more plentiful in summer, so more of their electricity would be available in summer when wind usually is at very low levels). See URLs.

          That storage would need to have a minimal level at all times (about 10 days of demand coverage), to cover multi-day, scheduled and unscheduled equipment and system outages and unusual multi-day weather events, such as a big snow fall covering the solar panels and minimal wind.

          – One TWh of storage costs about $400 billion, at $400/kWh, or $100 billion at a Holy Grail $100/kWh.
          – Any electricity passing through storage has about a 20% loss, on a high voltage AC-to-high voltage AC basis, to be made up by additional wind, solar and other generation.
          – Batteries lose about 10 to 15% of their capacity, kWh, during their lifetime, which means additional capacity has to be installed to offset that loss.
          – Any electricity fed to EVs and plug-in hybrids has about a 20% charging and resting loss, from wall meter to “in battery”, as indicated by the vehicle meter, to be made up by additional wind, solar, and other generation.

          • Thanks William, great knowledge, reason for reading comments such as yours, very constructive. There’s knowledge here, no put downs as experienced herein. I thrive on knowing new things. Put downs produce nothing. Also interesting are comments by Stu Lindberg and Jay Eshelman just to name a few (don’t mean to eliminate many others). Sen Benning of Caledonia has a bill S11 to limit the number of Senators in a county, no dominance. Great. That’s one main problem in VT, another is to confine the school education system and their unions and NEA.

            But, how to get this grassroots knowledge to Montpelier Liberals that are so closed minded “feel good” mentality? The Montpelier elites need a good flushing. There’s more intelligence in these comments than from Montpelier, just look at the pending Bill they are filing.

            Monte Robbins (1925-1982) had a great song, relevant to what’s happening in VT: Substitute the word “my Woman” for “VT”. the video:
            The lyrics:
            Born in the heat of the desert
            My mother died giving me life
            Despised and disliked by my father
            Blamed for the loss of his wife
            You know Lord I’ve been to a prison
            For something that I’d never done
            It’s been one hill after another
            And I’ve climbed them Lord, one by one
            But this time you gave me a mountain
            A mountain I may never climb
            It isn’t a hill any longer
            You gave me a mountain this time
            My woman got tired of the hardships
            Tired of the grief and the strife
            Tired of working for nothing
            Tired of being my wife
            She took my one ray of sunshine
            She took my pride and my joy
            She took my reason for living
            She took my small baby boy
            And this time you gave me a mountain
            A mountain I may never climb
            It isn’t a hill any longer
            You gave me a mountain this time

            The people have a mountain to climb in Vt.

    • The State selected that outfit to perform the study so the State would have a “cover your a..” document for “skeptical” legislators, who merely need a plausible package of lies and half truths to present to the voters.

      The voters will be promised a bed of roses, but will get a bed of thorns, unless you are a low income voter who votes Dem/Prog.

      For those voters there will be expensive, inefficient government-bureaucrat run programs that provide UNILATERAL carbon tax money to those voters to drive electric cars, get heat pumps, insulate and seal their houses, or provide them with new houses.

  8. For each and every scheme the left devises to extract money from Vermonters, regardless of the clever (or not) excuse the strategy relies on to justify taking dollar after dollar, know that there is NO legitimate scientific basis to intentionally reduce CO2 emissions, if the goal is to mitigate against global warming. Once you know a bit of the basic science behind CO2 and it’s role in global warming, you’ll realize it’s a scam. Therefore taxes based on a Scam are illegitimate taxes. It’s easy to understand with a few facts and proper perspective…

    The following was posted by Linda Gorden to the NO carbon Tax Vermont Facebook page…

    “Is the Carbon Tax a Scam?

    Vermonters lack perspective on climate change science and the role of CO2 in global warming, without which we can be fooled into believing carbon offsets or taxes are righteous. They’re not. Here’s why.

    The current concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere is a little above 400 parts per million (ppm) by volume (406 ppm measured in 2017 at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii) It increased from about 280 ppm in the mid 18th century, as determined by ice core samples taken in Greenland and Antarctica, where data is available for the last hundreds of thousands of years. We all know that during the mid 1700’s and before, humans did not contribute to raising nor lowering CO2 concentrations in our Earth’s atmosphere. So, is this increase of 120 ppm over the last 270 years significant?

    There have been 12 geologic periods that span over the last 600 million years, the current being the Quarternary, where for the last 800,000 years the average CO2 concentration has been 230 ppm (Luthi 2008). This is the Lowest CO2 concentration of any of the preceding 11 periods. You’re probably familiar with some of those periods by name, the first being the Precambrian, and including the Cambrian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, and Jurassic. For perspective, the average CO2 since during those 600 million years was over 2,600 ppm! This is nearly seven times our current amount, and 2.5 times the worst case scenario predicted by the IPCC for 2100. Our current period, the Quarternary, has the LOWEST CO2 concentration in the Earth’s history!! The slight increase in CO2 concentration since the industrial revolution is barely noticeable when viewed over the course of the Earth’s CO2 history.

    We should also be aware that during each of the last four ice ages the average CO2 concentrations were dangerously low, falling to below 190 ppm. By the end of the last ice age it fell to 182 ppm, thought to be the lowest in the Earth’s history! The reason this is alarming is because the Earth came within about 30 ppm of 150 ppm, the level at which plant life can not exist. Had the C02 level dropped below that threshold of 150 ppm, plant life would have become extinct on Earth!

    In my next post I’ll show further details on why higher CO2 concentrations are desirable and lower concentrations are problematic. Then you’ll really understand why it makes no sense to voluntarily try to reduce CO2 levels, if we even could. Regulating pollutants that cause smog and respiratory troubles, sure, but NOT CO2 which is colorless, odorless, and is required by plant life on earth. Certainly, it is not reasonable to tax or regulate CO2 emissions in an effort to reduce them, since we depend on CO2 for food, for our very survival.

    Can’t wait for my next post to learn more?
    Read this information for yourself in
    Gregory Wrightstone’s “Inconvenient Facts: The science that Al Gore doesn’t want you to know “.”

    • Not to mention that in the Oligiocene – about the time birds evolved – the CO2 values isotopically were low while the temperatures were extraordinarily high (016-018 isotopic archaeo-temperature measure). That was in the Cenozoic Era c. 11 million years ago. By talking like this, the pols – and the idiots who listen to them and vote for them – think we are speaking voodoo magic and mock us for the same. Nice, huh? Living in amid the New Age wunder kinder apes?

  9. As I was reading through the print, I was thinking”: I do not believe a word of this clap-trap. Fortunately, I have some company; then the question becomes; do we have enough company?
    I think so, but we have some work to do.
    Only in Vermont.

  10. Reducing carbon dioxide isn’t going to make anyone healthier. Increasing the cost of energy and transportation isn’t going to make anyone healthier. Increasing the cost of operating a business in Vermont isn’t going to help anyone and making Vermont businesses less cost competitive isn’t going to help business or motivate startups in Vermont. Reducing the disposable income of the middle class and the wealthy and increasing overhead costs of businesses won’t help employment and will slow the cash flow upon which Vermont’s revenues depend. An often overlooked point: If the results of any program undertaken by government will have patently predictable negative consequences those consequences are deliberate and intentional. The goal is government empowerment and centralization of government control. A terrifying example of this: If the Democrat coup had succeeded (and they have not given up), the inevitable and predicted collapse of Obamacare would have enabled the Progressives (like Bernie) to implement Single Payer, the citizens be damned.

  11. “….without hurting the economy or low-income residents.” Quite frankly, I don’t give a DAMN about ‘low – income residents”. In fact… I am SICK of “low-income” residents! Soon, these fools in Montpelier will turn me into a low income resident! And that is their intent! Worry about us in the middle, you idiots! WE are the ones who pick up all your damn tabs for the “low-income”!

  12. From the start, this scheme, based on the fraudulent threat of CO2, has been about wealth redistribution. Some people will receive subsidies while others will take a beating, such as small businesses and the already dwindling Middle class. Left unchallenged, these proposals will drive anyone with the means to live elsewhere. Those remaining will struggle as the cost of everything goes up, and the State will struggle as revenues go down while all their welfare programs increase. This “study” is a huge pile of BS – just what the Dems and Progs ordered.

  13. Did I read this wrong, Progressive DemocRATs ( Ashe & Johnson ) think that this
    Carbon Tax ” Boondoggle ” …..Will be too costly for Vermont to support ???

    Was that False News……..

  14. This will drive more people and businesses out of VT. Border towns will be especially hard hit. Why would I pay more for gas in VT when I can drive to NH and save? So we will put all the Convenience Store that sell gas in VT border owns out of business.

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