Global Warming Solutions Act faces multiple possible outcomes during this week’s virtual session

This week House lawmakers will be reviewing the Global Warming Solutions Act, a piece of legislation that would change renewable energy goals into mandates and allow individuals to sue to the state if the quotas are missed.

The bill, H.688, was passed out of the Senate on June 25. The House chamber now gets to work on the amended version, but in the light of new demands Gov. Phil Scott made to legislative leaders earlier this month in a letter.

In Scott’s Aug. 12 letter to House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, the governor argued that a proposed Climate Council responsible for setting energy plans must have all members appointed through the executive branch to “avoid the constitutional conflict that will arise around separation of powers.”

Bruce Parker/TNR

The chamber of the Vermont House of Representatives will be empty as lawmakers continue to meet in virtual session due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott also took issue with the bill’s provision allowing for lawsuits against Vermont if the state fails to meet climate goals by certain dates. “The unrealistic timelines increase the likelihood of lawsuits,” he wrote. “By the time the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) emerges from the planning and rulemaking processes, there will not be enough time to demonstrate the desired results before the first deadline.”

Additionally, the governor also wants the Climate Action Plan promulgated by the council to be voted on by the full Legislature, and he wants details about funding. Lawmakers have yet to specify appropriations for H.688.

“Given our challenging economic conditions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must be
particularly mindful of what Vermonters and businesses can afford,” Scott wrote.

While the Senate rejected similar proposals from the governor in May, the House could reconsider them this week in light of a potential veto threat — one that requires a two-thirds vote by the Legislature to override.

Representatives in the House have a few options for how to move ahead. If lawmakers pass the Senate-amended bill as is and send it to the governor, it will almost certainly trigger a veto. To avoid this, the House could amend H.688 to include Scott’s proposal, after which it would need to go back to the Senate.

Another option is for House lawmakers to reject the Senate-amended version and ask for a committee of conference in which six conferees — three from each body — could try to hammer out compromises there. They could, for example, attempt to adopt the Senate amendments and insert elements of the governor’s proposal. Taking the conference committee route could encounter procedural challenges, however, if the final legislation involves measures that have not yet passed the House or Senate.

The Global Warming Solutions Act aims to address global warming by forcing Vermonters reduce their emissions. Carbon emission requirements in the bill include a reduction of 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, then 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Finally, emissions must be reduced to 80 percent below by 2050. The Agency of Natural Resources would be required to implement the new policies created by the council.

Some of the bill’s critics, including Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, have opposed the legislation in part due to the need for lawmakers to focus on the COVID-19 economic crisis.

“I don’t believe that we have the time to devote to this issue, and trying to do it under the circumstances that we are in right now means we means we are not going to devote the time that we need to,” Benning told True North in June.

House Minority Leader Patricia McCoy, R-Poultney recently echoed that sentiment.

“Vermonters are struggling at a level unheard of since the Great Depression,” she wrote in a statement. “The effects of a global pandemic and economic crisis have not only taken its toll on state budgets, but more importantly, on the personal budgets of everyday Vermonters trying to make ends meet.”

McCoy also took issue with the Climate Council’s lack of accountability to voters or the Legislature.

“This unelected council would be able to implement an overarching climate plan without the will of the Legislature, removing any connection between the council and the people of Vermont,” she wrote.

Some environmentalists, including Mark Whitworth, president of Energize Vermont, also have criticized the bill.

“The bill’s only targets relate to carbon emissions from selected sources,” he wrote. “So, the real effect of the bill will be to provide statutory justification for the environmentally-damaging energy projects that a majority of Vermonters oppose.”

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

Image courtesy of Bruce Parker/TNR

10 thoughts on “Global Warming Solutions Act faces multiple possible outcomes during this week’s virtual session

  1. Forgive me for pointing this out, but the Ethan Allen Institute has led the criticism of the GWSA since last January, when I labelled it the “worst democracy shredding bill in the past fifty years”. EAI distributed a Policy Brief explaining the bill to legislators when they arrived in the State House that month. We are gratified that the presidents of the Vermont Labor Council and the Vermont State Employees Association, as well as of Vermonters for a Clean Environment and Reenergize Vermont, have joined in the opposition. If/when Gov.Scott sticks to his guns and vetoes it, the veto will have a lot of support.

  2. If individuals have the right to sue the state for not meeting quotas, it sounds like the state will have free rein to do whatever it takes to meet those quotas.

  3. Vermonter’s, two things you need to know about GWSA, it will not have any
    signifcant bearing on ” Global Warming ” but it will have a major impact on
    your tax base.

    Vermont’s progressive legislators, don’t give a “Rats A” about your well being,
    they only care about there agenda….

    Vermont cannot save the world, but Vermonter’s can save Vermont all we need
    to do is vote these fools out !!

    If legislators really cared, they would fix the state debt issues, tax concerns not
    worring about the world.

  4. Subsidized Solar Profiteers Aided and Abetted by Legislators

    SunCommon, politically well-connected, wants to build-out solar for solar’s sake, because it makes good money installing solar systems. It does not care about:

    1) Net-Metered solar and Standard-Offer solar being charged to the utility rate base at up to 21.7 c/kWh, whereas such solar is worth to a utility about 8.5 c/kWh; N-M and S-O are the most expensive energy sources in the GMP electricity supply mix. See Appendix

    2) The capital cost of expensive grid extension/augmentation to physically connect solar systems and expensive battery storage to subsequently deal with their output variations. See Solar Coddling Services.

    3) Ratepayers, taxpayers, etc., paying through the nose, while they are being told various fables/fantasies about Vermont fighting climate change. See explanation of cost-shifting in Table 4.

    4) Its subsidy-fueled solar job creation causing increased costs, decreased job creation, and anemic growth in other sectors.

    Free Solar Coddling Services: It does not care about midday, grid-disturbing, DUCK-curves, and grid-disturbing downward output spikes due to variable cloudy weather.

    Owners of other generators, mostly gas turbine plants, are required to rapidly decrease their outputs to let his unruly, unreliable, expensive, solar onto the grid, starting around mid-morning, and then they are required to rapidly increase their outputs to fill the void, as solar nods off to go to sleep, starting late-afternoon/early-evening (a period with peak demands, mind you), until about mid-morning the next day.

    A rational person likely would think it is a true miracle, that solar, being such an expensive, troublesome, mostly absent “worker”, is getting all these subsidies, plus free coddling services.

    In 2019,
    Standard Offer solar cost shifting was $11 million,
    Utility Solar cost shifting was $14.5 million
    Net-Metered cost shifting was 38 million

    All this cost shifting is on top of the $60 + million/y added to electric bills for the utter-boondoggle, called Efficiency Vermont. About 90% of what EV does would have happened anyway, because Vermonters are not stupid, when it comes to saving money.

    NOTE: All this cost shifting does not include NE grid extension/augmentation, and the costs of the up and down ramping of gas turbines connected to the NE grid to counteract the wind/solar variations, 24/7/365. See table 3

    NOTE: It is assumed, solar has a value to utilities of about 8.5 c/kWh, due to local generation, etc.
    In the future, that value likely would DECREASE, as more solar is built-out on a distribution grid, because:

    – Duck-curves would increase
    – Expensive storage would be required
    – Curtailment payments to owners would be required
    – More up/down ramping by gas turbines would be required.
    – More grid expansion/augmentation/MW would be required

  5. GWSA to Subsidize Job Creation in RE Sectors

    Vermont has a very poor climate for traditional, private-enterprise job creation. Forbes, et al., rate Vermont near the bottom. There are too many onerous taxes, fees and surcharges, and rules and regulations, that have caused businesses to not grow in Vermont, to leave Vermont, or not even come to Vermont.

    Vermont’s population is stagnant. Ambitious, younger people leave, older, more-needy people stay. Well-paying, steady jobs, with decent benefits, are hard to come by in Vermont.

    GWSA would create an expensively subsidized, industrial development policy that would:

    1) Require major increases in the current levels of various subsidies to all sorts of RE businesses for decades.
    2) Produce expensive, mostly variable/intermittent, unreliable, wind/solar electricity.
    3) Very expensively “create jobs” that would not exist without the subsidies.

    The GWSA “industrial development policy” would be an expensive substitute for traditional, private-enterprise job creation, which has proven so difficult in Vermont, largely because of historic, socialistic mindsets within the Legislature, which prefer to protect/enlarge/perpetuate vote-getting pet projects, instead of creating the proper conditions for a vibrant private sector that produces hi-tech products, employs highly-skilled, tax-paying workers, in steady jobs, with good benefits.

    GSWA Requires Major Annual Spending Increases

    Annual spending on RE would have to increase from the current $210 million/y (includes $60+ million for Efficiency Vermont) to at least $1.0 billion per year, to implement the CEP.

    If the RE subsidies were “freebie” federal subsidies, they would subsidize and grow RE businesses, and create jobs.
    However, federal subsidies increase and decrease, and come and go.

    If the subsidies were “state” subsidies, such as for 1) heat pumps, 2) electric vehicles, and 3) above-market, feed-in rates for solar, such as net-metering at 21.7 c/kWh and Standard Offer at 21.7 c/kWh, they would be extracted from Vermont ratepayers, taxpayers and tourists, which, as has been proven, would create jobs in the RE sectors, but would, as has been proven, eliminate jobs, or prevent jobs from being created, in almost all private-enterprise sectors.

    That would further worsen the near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy, and prolong the adverse employment conditions of the “Virus economy”.

  6. GWSA is improper legislation.
    It is a vehicle for Vermont RE companies to get RICH for decades, at everyone else’s expense
    It is flagrantly indecent with an ongoing multi-year recession and high unemployment
    It is iiredeemable
    It is flawed from A TO Z
    It should not exist in a free country, certainly not in the US.
    It disfranchises Vermonters for DECADES

    It is a means toward wholesale coercion of the people of Vermont, just to please the OWNERS of RE companies who stand to have enormous gain for DECADES (at the expense of all others), while engaging in useless/damaging activities that would not make ONE IOTA of impact regarding the climate.

    This craziness has got to end in NOVEMBER
    Vote the fanatic RE idiots out.
    Drain the bureaucratic RE swamp

    Most sane legislators would oppose GWSA, if it were not for them taking a knee for the golden calf of PARTY UNITY.

    Liberal Dem/Prog-supported/subsidized VTDigger and Seven-Days have been suggested/ordered to not allow comments, because they typically were running 10 to 1 AGAINST GWSA and other such awful/economy-damaging “legislation”


    Bernie: I feel your pain, or was it Obama, or was it Clinton?

  7. It is beyond rational to think Vermont’s legislature can pass a bill that presents a SOLUTION for climate change.

    There is NOTHING Vermont could do, or California could do, that would be a SOLUTION for climate change.

    Look at the mess POLITICIANS made of CALIFORNIA, closing down power plants they need, when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining.

    Off-the-charts idiotic, and PREDICTED by independent energy systems engineers for at least 10 years

    GWSA is merely a vehicle to provide decades of subsidies to the owners of RE businesses, AT THE EXPENSE OF EVERYONE ELSE

    And if the subsidies are not enough and goals are not achieved, these owners of RE businesses can hire lawyers to sue the state for MORE AND MORE subsidies to achieve UNREACHABLE/UNREALISTIC goals pulled out of a hat by disgraced KLEIN/SHUMLIN a long time ago; Klein said at the time” AIM HIGH, WE CAN ALWAYS COME DOWN

    “And so it goes”, says Kurt Vonnegut; rest his soul.

  8. Isn’t this typical of the Legislature, to pass laws knowing we will not will not be able to comply with. Stop this bill right here and send it to the recycle bin. Nothing good for the taxpayer will come out of this. This is just another endplay around the legislative process.

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