McClaughry: From heating fuel tax to a green police state

By John McClaughry

The House-passed heating fuel tax bill (H.439) is now in the Senate Finance Committee, but the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee is busy crafting its own version (S.171). That version offers the same heating oil and propane tax increases approved by the House, doubling the rates to 4 cents per gallon. But it goes the House one better (or worse, depending if you’re paying). The House bill raised the gross receipts tax on natural gas by a third, from 0.75 percent to 1.0 percent. The Senate bill would double that rate to 1.5 percent.

John McClaughry

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

The House bill contained no urgent “findings.” It just raised the tax rates that feed the weatherization program. The Senate bill leads off by declaring grandly that we need to impose more fuel taxes “to help our State meet its greenhouse gas reduction and weatherization goals, thereby addressing climate change.”

The Senate bill recites Vermont’s futility in attempting to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 25 percent below a1990 baseline by 2012, a goal set by a law passed in 2006. By 2015 we were emitting 16 percent above the baseline, and by now we’re probably 20 percent above. Therefore we must act boldly to suppress carbon combustion!

A year ago the solution was the ESSEX Plan, to hammer Vermonters with a $240 million a year carbon tax by 2026. Its backers believed that would drive people away from relying on carbon fuels for heating, transportation and businesses.

The ESSEX Plan sank like a stone, so now there’s a new strategy to reach the same goal. It’s “carbon tax 1 percent a time,” hatched by a shadowy group called the Regulatory Assistance Project. RAP’s principals are former state employees who ran the Public Service Department and the Public Utility Commission.

Their mantra is “strategies to de-carbonize Vermont and address climate change.” That means if Vermonters won’t accept a painful carbon tax, persuade the Legislature to spend money on popular programs, and levy small and relatively painless taxes on carbon fuels to pay for the expansion.

The program that will consume the new fuel tax revenues, home weatherization, is a sound idea when it yields energy savings greater than the expense of weatherizing. But with the additional $4.6 million from raising the fuel taxes, the government programs can make this offer to 400 qualified homeowners: “We’ll weatherize your house so you can save 150 to 230 gallons of heating oil each winter. That’s $600, year after year, and it all goes into your pocket, because all but maybe $40 of it will come from doubling the heating fuel taxes on somebody else! You can spend your $560 on whatever you want!”

It’s time that deal was modified to read “you’ll pay us half of your savings so we can double the number of homes we can weatherize.” Barring that modification, the increased fuel tax free-handout offer should be sent to the recycling box.

The Natural Resources and Energy Committee is also deliberating on a really radical bill called the Global Warming Solutions Act (S.173). This bill would require that Vermonters reduce their carbon dioxide emissions from electricity, transportation and buildings to 25 percent below the 1990 benchmark by 2025. And how would that fantastic result be made to happen?

The secretary of Natural Resources would be directed to adopt and implement rules governing anything and everything to drive carbon dioxide emissions down below where they were 35 years ago. No legislator would vote on these rules.

And how would they be enforced? Not only the attorney general, but “any person” would be authorized to bring a civil suit against a rule breaker, to get an injunction, punitive damages and costs and attorney’s fees.

This heralds a Green Police State, enforced against anyone who uses any kind of fossil fuel above some bureaucratic allowance. It would be a permanent full employment plan for the battalion of bureaucrats needed to contrive, manage and enforce the rules, and a never-ending gold mine for the legal eagles at the Conservation Law Foundation, plus some climate warrior who doesn’t like you.

A better plan? Recognize what Resources for the Future concluded in its $120,000 study: There is no level of carbon taxation that will force Vermonters to meet the hopelessly unachievable CO2 emissions goals announced in 2006. Stop trying to sneak carbon taxes in 1 percent at a time. Make people receiving big weatherization savings pay at least half of the cost of the improvements that produce the savings.

And never for one minute entertain the idea of giving unelected bureaucrats the awesome power to control all our uses of carbon based fuels, just to show the world that Vermont is doing its (utterly undetectable) part to defeat the supposed menace of climate change. Or for any other reason.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Image courtesy of John McClaughry
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13 thoughts on “McClaughry: From heating fuel tax to a green police state

  1. This rich, the Dems/Prog/Libs in the Assemblg and the Senate are fighting among themselves to see which body can be first and highest in the passing fuel tax bill. Will it ever end? Afraid not.

  2. What the secretive bottom line in the VT legislature, in conjunction with the highly published bills introduced is that the 660 bills posted are reflect on VT living standards. No one owns property in VT, you merely “rent” and they can charge any rent they what, courtesy of the VT Tax Dept. onto the Listers.

    Property taxes transformed “Life, Liberty and Property” to the ownership of faceless bureaucrats, be it in Montpelier or you Town Hall. So why improve “their” property for your betterment in which they raise taxes on the improvements? It’s a hard bitter reality especially when the land has been family owned for generations. Do’n’t have any medical problem, the state takes over.

    The barriers are in place to discourage fighting your taxes and property value based on RE Fair Market Value of properties sold like yours. Lister grievance, BCA Board (not one has RE experience and falsify for status quo) the State Appraiser ($70) the the Supreme Court $295). Note they don’t mention Superior Court, which is local and more understandable (?). I’ve played the game twice now.

    Thinking about assembling a group of people and lawyers (non-profit) in every county to fight for the rights of property owners. And attend all the mandates mentioned in the VT property owners fight. Normal people don’t know how to fight and the routines, no protection. I’ve seen farmers yell and scream at the BCA board, but that’s all the venting they got.

    The BCA Board and Listers are your “friendly neighbor” right? They are State sanctioned zombies. I have many experiences.

  3. Here’s another video about voter fraud in CO, which is in conjunction with what happened in that state that went from Red to Deep Blue in a short time from outside money used to control, It happened in VT.

    The Voter fraud video:
    Rocky Mountain Heist – Colorado Voter Fraud (11:14)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8fz_JltYJY

    Vermont was a nice state as known and peaceful, live and let live. Then a small group moved in, got into Government and became the controller. Both in CO and VT (to include other states) the change happened quickly relatives speaking with control and taxation increasing on a Logarithmic scale similar to the severity Earth Quake scale, ten fold for every point. The take over has gotten to the point where the bugaboo situation is now very visible to the concerned. The snowflakes, pied pipers and nut jobs are only concerned as to what they can get from Gov so you have this type of Government and the people within. The motto of these ‘Take VT Forward”: inhuman people is “if you don’t like it….move.”

    Note that the Legislators this year alone introduced 660 bills, totally ridiculous and lacks common sense unless there’s a secretive agenda they will not inform the public about and they won”t answer to the resident’s concerns.There’s too much taxes, gun control, regulations, unanswerable bureaucracy, school unions. Sal Alinsky followers for sure.

    This is also happening in the Fed Government. Observe the problems Trump is having. The Dems have only one agenda, get rid of Trump and his group, while getting taxpayer salaries. The welfare of America or the border isn’t a concern. This is the same mentality that is in CO and VT.

    I believe the situation is becoming to it’s crescendo. There are outside groups and money such as noted in the video that are propelling their selfish agenda. But knowing events, it’s part of the New World Order. The Burn being a soap box prophet, being a millionaire is a part of the group. The group is secretive, the Burn isn’t. The media is their exposure platform all crapology.

    Voter Fraud, as the video shows, is rampant. In CO people are (by law) allowed to print out ballots at home and give them to a “person” thinking they have “voted” to the person of their choice. Car trunks full of ballots (?), it happened in FL, OH, MN in 2016. In VT Mitzi Johnson tried to get the legislative winner of Orange County Bob Frenier null and void for the Dem loser to pack the Legislature of all Dems, one party inclusive.

    The concerned people still in VT have a tough time to overcome against the Gov, tree huggers, the number of VT controlling Legislators-6 Senators, 24 Districts with 36 Representatives in one county (Chittenden) wherein it needs drastic reduction for better state wide representation. They control all and everything.

    The video shows how the Socialist movement is spreading. Look at others on the page. Life is suppose to be an enjoyment.

  4. Reduce the budget for heating the statehouse and all environmental offices………
    by 15% per year.
    Free touques and scharves as those ‘workers’ shiver – to save the planet.
    Then turn the heat down 10 degrees further in statehouse each month more than 8 weeks.
    Close the cafeteria – no hot or refrigerated food – too much energy use, bring baloney sandwiches.
    And water – we don’t want any milk cows out there faarting, or unnecessary refrigeration

  5. As the economy continues to slide, in large part (in Vermont) by a bureaucracy that feeds on the citizenry, it will be evident which “policy-makers” are responsible. In their zeal to protect us all from the “warming” future, have they thought about the economic future at all? Global warming MAY increase — but government expansion ALWAYS does.

  6. Guess spring is here. Ah good ole VT, get out the mud boots, winter coat, tick repellent, check book to pay taxes, Flatlanders and black fly spray..

    Wish there was a repellent for Flatlanders.

  7. Thank God we moved to Tennessee. Down here people love driving their dirty fossil fuel cars.I can hardly wait for the democratic socialists to demand they start driving electric cars.

    • Smart Move.

      I’m sure your wallet is enjoying the reprieve of VT’s nearly highest in the nation total tax burden.

  8. This beats all, now the House and Senate are dueling over which body can raise a tax to a higher level. What’s next? You can’t make this up!!!!!!

  9. It should be an interesting list of those who’ll be exempt from the civil suits for using above their allowance of carbon-based fuel.

  10. First they came for the cars.
    Than they came for the steak & burgers.
    Hide your pets, they will be after them next.

  11. Are these people all wall street babies or what. I’m glad that they can afford all the stupid crap coming out of Montpelier but I can’t. Keep it up people and the only ones that will be left to pay is you..

    • Just Flatlanders that know best…….. Just look at the foolishness the present !!
      Send them back home, they’re ruining the state.

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