Democratic gubernatorial debate reveals support for carbon tax

By Rob Roper

During a debate on VPR between the four Democratic candidates who will appear on that party’s Aug. 14th primary ballot, all stated support for placing a new carbon tax on Vermonters.

Rob Roper

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

James Ehlers, a clean water activist who runs Lake Champlain International, stated, “I do think a carbon tax is the right path to follow.”

Christine Hallquist, former CEO of Vermont Electric Co-op, hedged a little, saying that a carbon tax is “one of the most effective policy mechanisms you can have for mitigating carbon,” but refused to give a direct yes or no answer regarding support. She has also said that reducing Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change would be her top priority if elected. It’s hard to imagine someone forgoing what she sees as the “most effective tool” when tackling her “number one” issue.

Brenda Siegel, a performance artist who runs the Southern Vermont Dance Festival, said, “Carbon pricing is essential as part of our way that we reduce carbon emissions in our state,”

Ethan Sonneborn, a 14-year-old, said, “I would be open to exploring [a carbon tax] as governor. I’m absolutely not ruling it out.”

State Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans), who will not appear on the ballot but is running a write-in campaign for governor, did not participate in the debate.

The carbon tax under consideration by proponents in Vermont is known as “the ESSEX Plan.” It would ultimately tax gasoline an extra 32 cents per gallon, heating oil and diesel an extra 40 cents per gallon, and propane and natural gas an extra 24 cents. The revenues collected, after allowing for government expenses collecting and administering this complicated plan, would be redistributed via a series of rebates to low income and rural Vermonters, and subsidies to electric providers, which they would in turn use to lower customers’ electric rates.

Gov. Phil Scott has promised to veto any carbon tax that reaches his desk, which would require at least 51 votes in the state House to sustain. Vermont Republicans currently hold 53 seats in the House, though 12 incumbent Republican representatives are not running for re-election.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz/Wikimedia Commons

8 thoughts on “Democratic gubernatorial debate reveals support for carbon tax

  1. Apparently none of those people running live out in the country. Let’s tax,tax and tax some more.
    A carbon tax is great if you live in the urban communities but it sucks when you have to travel 20-30 miles every day just to accomplish daily needs. It’s unbelievable how stupid these people are with their suggested taxes. We have been taxed to the limit in this State. It’s time to cut back on the freebees and reduce taxes, not make more.

  2. The Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP, goal aims to “transform” the Vermont economy. It would require investments of about $33.3 billion, about $1 billion per year for 33 years, during the 2017 – 2050 period, per Vermont Energy Action Network 2015 Annual Report. The CEP could not be implemented without a very high carbon tax and other taxes, surcharges and fees of at least $970 million per year for 33 years.

    Proposed Carbon Tax Bill: A large group of Vermont legislators, pressured by RE and other special interests, co-sponsored a bill to enact a law to impose a unilateral, regressive carbon tax on already-struggling households and businesses. Fortunately, the proposed bill died in committee. Governor Scott is against any unilateral carbon tax and against any additional wind turbines on ridgelines. However, RE and other special interests continue to drum up support for their carbon tax that would line their pockets at the expense of all others.

    To make the proposed bill appear attractive, the bill had the usual lip-service statement about Vermont’s government returning the carbon tax revenues in a “revenue-neutral” manner, i.e., in the form of tax credits, subsidies, rebates, grants, etc. The tax credits, etc., were purposely left vague and were circumscribed in ways so people and companies would have no way of knowing who would qualify for what credit, and what they would get back.

    The carbon tax would be increasing to $520 million per year, less 10% as subsidies for the Home Weatherization Assistance Fund, HWAF, and the Vermont Energy Independence Fund, VEIF, less sales tax reduction from 6% to 5%*, would yield the “leftover” carbon tax. All of that could not take place without some state and local bureaucrats spending time on it. The below table shows a state and local government administration cost of 5%.

    * Sales tax reduction, per proposed bill would be:

    Fiscal year 2018, $31.5 million
    Fiscal year 2019, $48.6 million
    Fiscal year 2020, and after, $66.8 million

  3. Carbon Tax Impact On A Typical Vermont Family, as reported on VTDigger:

    – The carbon tax would impose a $10 per ton tax of carbon emitted in 2017, increasing to $100 per ton in 2027.
    – The carbon tax would generate about $100 million in state revenue in 2019 and about $520 million in 2027.
    – The carbon tax would be added to the fuel prices at gas stations and fuel oil/propane dealers. Drivers should expect a tax increase of 9-cent per gallon of gasoline in 2017, increasing to about 89 cents in 2027.
    – Homeowners, schools, hospitals, businesses, etc., should expect a tax increase of 58-cent tax per gallon of propane and $1.02 per gallon of heating oil and diesel fuel in 2027.
    – A typical household (two wage earners, two cars, in a free-standing house) would pay additional taxes in 2027 of about:
    – Some of the carbon tax extortion would be at the pump, some when the monthly fuel bills arrive, and some as higher prices of OTHER goods and services.

    Driving = $0.89/gal x 2 x 12000 miles/y x 1/(30 miles/gal) = $712/y
    Heating = $1.02/gal x 800 gal/y = $816/y
    Total carbon tax in 2027 = $1528/y
    Sales tax reduction 5/6 x 1400 = $233/y
    Net tax increase = $1295/y

    – The hypocritical sop of reducing the sales tax from 6 to 5 percent would save that household about $233 in sales taxes, for a net loss of $1295 in 2027. That means such households, the backbone of the Vermont economy, would have about $1300/y less to make ends meet.
    – Many of these households have had stagnant or declining, spendable real incomes (after taxes, fees, surcharges; other recurring expenses, etc.), plus dealing with a near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy, since 2000.
    – With less real income, and higher real prices for goods and services, they also would have to make their own energy efficiency improvements.

  4. Carbon Tax, it’s just another Liberal Boondoggle looking for a way to get your Money.

    I watched this Circus Act as they presented their views, it’s your money and they have
    ways to spend it ………. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny to watch !!

    These clowns running for Governor, if only one would have stated reducing the heavy
    tax base instead of adding one more, this carbon tax will sink them……Good.

    If Democrats want to take on the Current Governor, they better do a write-in !!

  5. Carbon tax: Yet another nutty liberal scheme to make government bigger, to allow liberal politicians to pick economic winners and losers, and to shrink the middle class. Why is it every wacky liberal idea includes stealing our freedom and our earnings?

  6. No carbon tax!!!! Can’t afford fuel in this state now! What kind of fools are you Democrats????

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