This commentary is by Alison Despathy, of Danville. She has a clinical nutrition practice in St. Johnsbury.
Senator White’s claim — Governor Scott is spreading misinformation about S.5 the Affordable Heat Act – lovingly called the Affordable Heat Act by Senator White. White specifically states “Governor Phil Scott isn’t being truthful about the legislative process around the Affordable Heat Act and over the years he has made many false claims.”
Senator White’s Instagram video was posted on the Vermont Democrats account on April 28, 2023 and can be accessed below.
Fact Check Results — Based on extensive research and analysis by thousands of Vermonters actively engaged in opposing S.5 and speaking up about the danger of this bill—The finding is that Governor Phil Scott got it exactly right.
Further this conclusion confirms that the video attempt by Senator White at honesty and transparency is false.
Senator White’s Myths
Myth 1 — “The Affordable Heat Act does not force any individual person to do anything — period.”
Truth — If you don’t listen and act upon what your “experts” and social engineers — the legislators who voted in favor of S.5– have determined is the best plan then you will pay more for heating fuel — period. Regardless of the fact that heating fuel is still essential for most Vermonters to heat their homes at this time. Please note – even if you do listen to these “experts”, you will still pay more for heating fuel because you will likely still need heating fuel. These heat pumps are supplemental systems unless you are loaded and can afford a whole new system. There are also additional costs such as heat pump cleanings and increasing electric rates.
Important note: it is not apparent if the legislators looked into homeowner’s insurance and the limitations within the market for heat pump systems as a primary heating source, especially in older homes. Please check with your provider before making rash decisions that may result in limited options, higher costs and safety risks due to inefficient, unreliable heating systems.
Myth 2 — “This isn’t a tax on Vermonters. No single individual will be saddled with the cost of implementing this bill. Fossil fuel dealers and importers will be responsible for the costs associated with the Affordable Heat Act and they will also be responsible for the pollution that they need to reduce over time. So, it’s a win win.”
Truth — It is actually a lose-lose situation. Local fossil fuel dealers have been providing reliable products to their customers for generations. They take their work seriously and care greatly for the communities that they serve. For decades, they have already been engaged in the process of installing high efficiency heating systems and heat pumps when appropriate and as the technology evolves and is financially feasible. It is not the dealers’ fossil fuel pollution; it is the consumers’ pollution—they are the users of this still necessary product. If the fossil fuel dealers stop delivering fossil fuel at this time, Vermonters will freeze. Punishing and charging fossil fuel dealers to “pay” to continue to distribute their necessary products is cruel and will result in higher costs to Vermonters for heating fuel. The fossil fuel dealers cannot take this added financial burden on alone, a portion will need to be passed to consumers. Attempts at determining this cost impact have been thwarted and ridiculed by many democrats.
Myth 3 — “This bill requires an extensive and detailed studying to figure out how the cost will affect Vermonters and how much we will save and how it will be implemented.”
Truth — S.5 the UN-Affordable Heat Act is fundamentally flawed because of the funding structure and clean heat standard design. Regardless of how much more money is spent or how many studies or reports are done – this bill does not have the capacity to serve or solve – that is the issue. Unfortunately, many legislators are finding false hope and comfort in this “study”. As soon as we set up the carbon credit structure —aka the Clean Heat Standard— we have created a bogus trading market on the backs of Vermonters that can be and is exploited globally by corporations. This is already apparent in the bill in that Vermont Gas Systems is heavily favored. S.5 forces Vermont into that market. It literally sacrifices Vermonters, our thermal sector and Vermont businesses in order to build a market that will not serve the people or solve real environmental issues. This global carbon market is already full of massive fraud and is abused by corporations to sell “green” agendas and increase profits based on false narratives. Many Vermont legislators are falling prey to vague talking points and propaganda instead of looking at the concerning details of this bill and where, how and why it originated.
Conclusion: Governor Phil Scott is spot on in his analysis. His explanation and clarity shed light on the inherent problems with S.5. His primary concerns represent those of many Vermonters around the state who have been trying hard to communicate with their elected representatives. Thank you, Governor Scott, for hearing the people and choosing to veto S.5.
Zealotry and ideology are dangerous for all – especially when practiced by elected officials. An inability to take in new information and engage in meaningful conversation is a disservice to Vermonters. The practice of collaboration and a willingness to listen and learn from others is essential to the democratic process. Sacrificing Vermonters with destructive legislation despite the best of intentions and hopes only creates more problems. Please reach out to your local legislators and implore them to uphold the Govenor’s veto and ensure their NO vote on S.5.