By David Flemming
A radical new bill, the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), was proposed a few days ago.
It would turn Vermont’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals into mandates. The bill made its way to the House Committee on Energy & Technology last week. Several legislators were quick to question how the bill would impact Vermonters.
Under GWSA, if Vermont does not meet its CO2 reduction goals, Vermonters would be forced to cough up taxpayer dollars to any special interests who think the legislative process is not reducing our CO2 emissions quickly enough. State employees in the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), un-elected by Vermonters, would be given the legal permission to pick and choose what groups of Vermonters “aren’t trying hard enough” to get their emissions in check, and take coercive action against them.
So hypothetically, if the legislature passes GWSA, state employees would have no choice but to follow our duly elected representatives’ directions for making rules? Not so fast.
Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, brought attention to the recent poor record of state employees consulting legislators’ intent when enacting rules to conform to newly passed laws.
“It wasn’t so long ago that we thought everything was hunky-dory with the State Board of Education. Many of us (the legislators) think legislative intent wasn’t followed (on the school mergers in Act 46). I want to make sure legislative intent is followed by the (potential) Climate Council within the Agency of Natural Resources,” she said.
The incident Scheuermann references she summarizes as follows: “Act 46 … passed only because the Legislature included the option of “alternative structures,” the legislative intent of which was to ensure school districts determined what structure would be the best means of achieving the goals of Act 46 — the “preferred structure” or an “alternative structure. The state, in its arguments against our appeal, claimed that this was not the intent, and Judge Mello bought it.”
Rep. Scheuermann’s statement should give even the most ardent climate warrior pause. If the Legislature passes GWSA, any “intent” may, or may not, be followed. We would be effectively handing control over any section of the economy that produces CO2 emissions to an unelected group of bureaucrats.
David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.