Conservation Law Foundation gearing up to sue Vermont over GWSA?

By Rob Roper

The last question for Chad Whiting of the Conservation Law Foundation during his testimony in support of the Clean Heat Standard bill (S.5) now before the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee came from Senator Mark MacDonald (D-Orange). “Are you busy with steps for a possible lawsuit that we will need [emphasis in original] in the event that we fail to move forward on this?”

Whiting replied in lawyerly fashion, “The Conservation Law Foundation is very aware of the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act. We are monitoring very closely what is happening in the Climate Council and the Agency of Natural Resources and all the departments and agencies of government and the legislature. We are certainly not taking that option off the table.”

Senator Becca White (D-Windsor) gave a thumbs up and said, “I like your answer.”

The Global Warming Solutions Act, passed by the Democratic and Progressive majorities over the veto of Governor Phil Scott and the Republican minority, states, “Any person may commence an action alleging that rules adopted by the Secretary pursuant to section 593 of this chapter have failed to achieve the greenhouse gas emissions reductions requirements pursuant to section 578 of this title.” And that, “In an action brought pursuant to this section, a prevailing party or substantially prevailing party: (1) that is a plaintiff shall be awarded reasonable costs and attorney’s fees.”

Several witnesses (and basic math) are on record that Vermont is not on track to achieve those reductions by the first milestone in 2025, nor the second milestone in 2030, so the anticipated lawsuit now appears inevitable.

It is not that Vermont isn’t doing considerable work on climate change. We spend an estimated quarter billion dollars a year on climate related projects. The problem is that the GWSA mandates are logistically and financially impossible to meet.

For example, in order to meet the 2025 reduction goals, Vermont would have to increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads from just over 7000 where we are today to 27,000 – in two years. A supply chain bringing this number of cars to Vermont does not exist. Demand for EVs is driven in large part by subsidies to the purchasers, and there is no revenue source to pay subsidies to drive this level of demand. Moreover, accommodating this number of electric vehicles would require public and private infrastructure investment (charging stations, electrical panel upgrades, new power generation, etc.), and neither the funding or the labor force to do this work exists.

Similar issues are rampant within the thermal weatherization portion of the GWSA. Jared Duval of The Energy Action Network and the Vermont Climate Council estimated Vermont currently has about 700 weatherization workers, but, “we will likely need somewhere in the range of 5,000 weatherization workers by sometime around the middle of this decade if we are to achieve the weatherization recommendations of the Climate Action Plan.” Again, that’s just two years away.

Given an already tight labor market, Vermont’s generally shrinking workforce, and the fact that this particular industry (electricians, plumbers, etc.) is facing a retirement bubble, we can safely say that a seven-fold increase in this labor force over the next two years is not going to happen, and the work isn’t going to get done.

But our elected representatives have made sure that Vermont taxpayers can and will be sued, potentially at a cost of multiple millions of dollars in attorneys’ fees, when the impossible fails to materialize.

The Conservation Law Foundation has a track record for this sort of litigation. They successfully sued Massachusetts for failing to meet the goals of that state’s 2008 version of a Global Warming Solutions Act, and now boast on their website in the aftermath of that court victory, “CLF now has a proven model for pushing for legal climate goals in other states that will usher in the end of the era of fossil fuels in New England.” So, to say they consider a lawsuit as simply an option on the table is exercise in understatement. They are chomping at the bit.

The CLF and similar groups such as VPIRG, Vermont Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club all lobbied in favor of passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act, insistent that the lawsuit provision remain included as “the teeth” the bill needed in order to be enforced – by them and their lawyers. A cynical observer might conclude that these organizations intentionally pushed (and in VPIRG’s case helped elect) politicians to pass impossible mandates specifically so they could, in fact, sue the state and reap the harvest of millions in legal fees (along with the assuredly lucrative public fundraising campaigns that would accompany such a lawsuit) as a result.

That our politicians were either gullible enough to go along with this scheme or corrupt enough to be complicit in it does not speak well of their sense of responsibility to look out for their constituents’ best interests. Purposefully and unnecessarily putting Vermont taxpayers in legal jeopardy is indefensible and irresponsible.

Even for those constituents who believe wholeheartedly in the goals and methods of the Global Warming Solutions Act, the lawsuit provision of the GWSA will only serve to shift the millions of dollars necessary to prosecute and defend the court case (Vermont taxpayers would have to pay both the plaintiffs’ and the defendant’s legal bills) away from actual climate projects, and could potentially delay actual progress.

Several Republican legislators led by Mark Higley (R-Lowell) have put forward a bill, H.74, to repeal the Global Warming Solutions Act and its lawsuit provision. But given the Democrats’ new super-supermajority status in both chambers of the legislature, it would take a massive public uprising for that bill or anything like it to even be considered.

Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. This article reprinted with permission from Behind the Lines: Rob Roper on Vermont Politics,

Image courtesy of state of Vermont

8 thoughts on “Conservation Law Foundation gearing up to sue Vermont over GWSA?

    • Yes Dano the batteries besides being not ready for prime time are also more detrimental to earth and the slave children used to mine the ore needed. The ore needed is also needed for thousands of things and is a finite commodity which will run out long before gas and oil. 50,000lbs of earth moved for one battery is unsustainable.

  1. Who in their right mind would make a law allowing anyone to sue the state for not meeting something they have no idea they can complete.
    I guess i answered my own question, the leftist commies are not RIGHT IN THE MIND. A rational minded legislature would have studied the warming hoax more intensely and found a abundance of climate related scientist do not go along with the UN on the hoax. A new study of 7 years temperatures in Antarctica show 0 degrees rise in the Temps there. Bad news for algore that the oceans won’t be boiling any time soon, and he’ll look like a fool yet again.(remember the polar bears were going to vanish)

  2. This reminds me of the fool sitting on the tree limb with a saw cutting the limb at the trunk. Of course they are unattainable, normal people can see that. Watching Vermont liberal politics is so entertaining.

    • Vermont has a registered voter list that is bloated with names of out of staters, dead people, too young people, non citizens, out of state students, fictitious names at fictitious addresses, etc.

      In that respect, Vermont is no different from many other states.

      Added to this “registration” miasma the recent practice of universal mail out of ballots and universal harvesting of ballots, the fraud possibilities multiply by orders of magnitude, which have led to veto-proof majorities for the rule-making Dem/Progs

      Many Vermonters know in their hearts they are being screwed.
      Where are the voices in opposition of the tyranny of government insanity?

      • Plane and simple cheating. Look at AZ, MN, and our national elections. The dink’s have perfected scamming the voting process. There is no other explanation for the citizens being forced into the liberal lunacy.

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