Fuel dealers protest storage tank ban at Statehouse

MONTPELIER — Top representatives of the fuel industry took turns speaking at the House Energy and Technology Committee late last week to warn against a proposal to ban large fuel storage tanks.

“If you can’t build bulk tanks, you are not gonna drive a fuel oil truck from Morrisville to Bennington,” Matt Cota, executive director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, told committee members last Thursday.

He further explained that large bulk-fuel tanks act as critical hubs for fuel storage, which enables dealers to expand operations, create more jobs and ultimately provide more of an affordable heating source to Vermonters.

Michael Bielawski/TNR

VERMONT STILL NEEDS FUEL: Manny Fletcher, VFDA executive board president, speaks before the House Energy Committee regarding restrictions on carbon-based fuel infrastructure, including large fuel oil tanks.

Cota would like the committee to write in a specific exemption for such facilities into H.51, an act relating to fossil fuel infrastructure.

“What is not explicitly exempt, and what an attorney might view as fossil-fuel infrastructure, are the bulk-storage facilities, and before it gets to a [gas station] tank or before it gets to your car, it’s in all of the very large 20,000 to 30,000 tanks that we need to get the fuel from Albany or from Montreal to Portsmouth or Springfield Massachusetts,” he said. “And we put it there so it’s near your home in time for us to deliver it for your home to stay warm.”

Cota emphasized that the products are still critical to the heating and electric energy infrastructure, especially in the sometimes brutally cold Vermont temps. He said newer technologies such as cold climate heat pumps are a work-in-progress when it comes to performance in bitter-cold temperatures, when they’ve been known to sometimes fail.

While Vermont has embraced ambitious goals for alternative energy, Cota said fuel oils often make up the difference during cold New England winters.

“When that happens we rely on fuel-oil energy throughout the grid to provide enough electricity to supply us when it’s very cold out,” he said.

As an example, in 2018, Vermonters experienced the infamous “bomb-cyclone,” a 15-day stretch in New England in which the region used 85 million gallons of fuel oil — equal to all the fuel-oil used in Vermont for a typical year.

Casey Cota, owner of the Cota & Cota heating company, told the committee how his business provides important jobs and services. He also stressed the importance of large tanks.

“We wouldn’t have been able to grow to seven offices if the bill that we are thinking about passing here [becomes law],” he said. ” … If there’s less infrastructure, our drivers will have to drive more than an hour one way for some of our locations. So what does that do? It increases your costs. That means we don’t employ as many people.”

Manny Fletcher, VFDA executive board president, took issue with the notion that fuel oils don’t benefit Vermont’s economy.

“The industry has been good to me. That’s why it’s so frustrating to hear repeated over and over again that the products and services that we sell are not contributing to the local economy,” he said.

He said he currently represents over 1,200 CDL drivers with hazmat endorsements, 2,567 certified gas technicians, 794 certified oil technicians, and over 1,000 customer-services representatives.

Not all the representatives were ready to jump behind the fuel oil cause. For instance, state Rep. Michael Yantachka, D-Charlotte, took issue with the notion that any heating fuels are harmless for the environment.

“I don’t take issue with anything you said about being an essential part of our energy infrastructure; it’s a very valuable part,” he said. “I do take issue with your characterization of fuel oil as clean, because even if you have ultra-low sulfur, it does produce carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas which is contributing to climate change.”

Rep. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, P/D-Middletown Springs, took issue with allowing the construction of new tanks, which are estimated to last at least 50 years when the Legislature is supposed to be following the policy towards 90 percent renewable energy by 2050.

“My question is how do we make that transition when our bridge is that long?” he said. “It doesn’t make sense for you to invest in a propane storage facility and rather than depreciate it over 50 years, you are told that you can only use it for 20.”

The response from Matt Cota again revealed the great disconnect between the two sides over Vermont’s energy future.

“We plan to use them for more than 20,” he responded. “I think we politely disagree on that.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR
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9 thoughts on “Fuel dealers protest storage tank ban at Statehouse

  1. ” the Legislature is supposed to be following the policy towards 90 percent renewable energy by 2050.” That’s it right there, there’s the mandate. Chiseled in stone. The legislature, the One and Only, has already spoken. You can beg, plead, threaten, even get every Vermonter to sign a sworn declaration that they want and need fossil fuels for basic survival but that won’t change a thing because the One and Only is never wrong. They do not recognize anyone’s opinion that disagrees with them. Never mind that real science disagrees with the whole anthropogenic notion that the earth will die in 12 years… or even that humans fossil footprint is why our climate behaves the way it does.

  2. Isn’t there a Lawyer out there that can connect these flatlander fascists to trying to kill the citizenry
    by denying by forced cost their heat . Their zeal in this ASSAULT Agenda over service to the citizen is criminal.

    Storage tanks and pipelines lower the cost of Getting the Fuel needed to stay UNFROZEN during
    the long winter months. If I knew the leftards were going to ASSAULT fuel oil I wouldn’t have shelled
    out 8k for a new oil burner. I would of instead bought a COAL burner and burned the dirtiest Coal
    I could get just to go along with my free breathing gutted catalytic converter on my Jetta… I guess
    I’ll have to hop up the engine on that to increase my pollution output.. Maybe start out door burning
    of my trash as well.

  3. I cannot believe the utter lunacy going on in Vermont. Fossil fuels are what keeps the wheels turning and homes heated. All forms of energy generation can be utilized in conjunction. To believe that any form of civil society can exist on renewable energy along is so shortsighted and myopic. I just can’t believe it.

  4. While Mr ChestNUT-Tangeman pointed out heat fuel oil generates CO2, he was spewing it into the atmosphere. Perhaps he should lead by example and shut his pie hole. By the way, I wonder how he heats his home in Middletown Springs?

  5. RE: Edward Letourneau

    …they need to pay the costs of changes…

    The problem is “they” will not pay the cost. “They” will tax so that we pay the cost…….

  6. And what about the people who burn wood and use oil for back up in winter, and hot water the rest of the year? If these Mountstupid people want to ban oil, then they need to pay the costs of changes to electric hot water heaters and heat pumps for every single home that will need one.

    Frankly we need to run everyone one these people out of town on a rail.

    • I fully expect to receive a check from the State for allowing my forest to continue to function by producing oxygen these thieves waste. I’ll gladly sacrifice a few trees and split the rails myself so we can run them out of the state.

      • ” sacrifice a few trees and split the rails myself so we can run them out of the state.”

        I’d perfer the Vlad (Vlad the Impaler) method of running the rail through them then
        plant the rail in the ground with the leftist flatlander scured to it. A message if you
        will to the others wanting to control Vters..

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