Gov. Phil Scott vetoes H.688, Global Warming Solutions Act

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Media Contact
Rebecca Kelley, Office of the Governor
802-622-4047 | rebecca.kelley@vermont.gov

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Governor Phil Scott today vetoed H.688, An act relating to addressing climate change, but provided a path forward to pass a bill that achieves the stated goals without the harmful impacts of the current bill.

Governor Scott outlined three areas where the bill could be improved to earn his support, which he had previously detailed in an August 12 letter to legislative leaders, alongside proposed legislative language for which his Administration has advocated throughout the process.

“I share the Legislature’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing the resilience of Vermont’s infrastructure and landscape in the face of a changing climate,” Governor Scott stated in his letter.

“To prioritize the emission reductions necessary to address climate change, we need to learn the lessons of building a comprehensive clean water plan. H.688, as written, will lead to inefficient spending and long, costly court battles, not the tangible investments in climate-resilient infrastructure, and affordable weatherization and clean transportation options that Vermonters need,” he added.

See the Governor’s full letter to the Legislature below:

September 15, 2020

The Honorable William M. MaGill
Clerk of the Vermont House of Representatives
State House
Montpelier, VT 05633

Dear Mr. MaGill:

Pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution, I am returning H.688, An act relating to addressing climate change, commonly referred to as the “Global Warming Solutions Act” (GWSA), without my signature because of my objections described herein:

As passed, this legislation simply does not propose, or create a sustainable framework for, long-term mitigation and adaptation solutions to address climate change. As noted in my August 12 letter to Speaker Johnson, Senate President Pro Tem Ashe, and Committee Chairs Briglin and Bray, I share the Legislature’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing the resilience of Vermont’s infrastructure and landscape in the face of a changing climate. In that same letter, I outlined three specific concerns with this bill and resubmitted changes to address these concerns and create a path forward.

To reiterate what I have shared publicly, and my Administration has shared with the Committees of Jurisdiction and Legislative Leadership, the three primary areas of concern that I have with H.688 are as follows:

the creation of a cause of action which could lead to costly litigation and delay, instead of putting forward tangible solutions and actions we can take now;
the structure and charge of the Vermont Climate Council (Council) presents an unconstitutional separation of powers issue; and
the absence of a process ensuring the Legislature would formally vote on the Vermont Climate Action Plan (Plan) promulgated by an unelected, unaccountable Council.

This, put simply, is poorly crafted legislation that would lead to bad government and expensive delays and lawsuits that would impair – not support – our emissions reductions goals. And it is unconstitutional – with the Legislature ignoring its duty to craft policy and enact actual global warming solutions on one hand and unconstitutionally usurping the Executive Branch role to execute the laws on the other. Unlike other boards and commissions, this Council would be constructed in a way that allows them to require action without the consensus or participation of the Executive Branch. Not just a majority, but a quorum of the body is composed of Legislative appointees and the Executive Branch rulemaking function, which “shall” be performed under the “guidance” of the Council, is relegated to a ministerial act to codify the Council’s Plan. The Council’s plan would not need to be passed by both houses of the Legislature, nor presented to the Governor for approval.

I have also consistently, and repeatedly, noted that our recent work on a comprehensive clean water plan is a proven model. The most valuable lesson of our clean water approach is that, with careful work, tied to specific outcomes, we can develop, fund, and implement a plan that has both positive economic and environmental results. H.688 does not follow this model.

More specifically, our work on clean water included carefully inventorying what we were already doing, identifying where gaps existed and what needs to be done, honestly estimating costs, and putting in place a funding strategy that we can demonstrate is both affordable and sustainable for Vermonters.

We should use this model for climate change work from the start – not after costly litigation. Because, while our recent clean water work has been a success, the fact is it took nearly two decades to reach this point with early attempts delayed by expensive and unnecessary litigation and the uncertainty those suits created.

H.688 as passed puts us on the same costly path the clean water work followed from 2002 to 2016, rather than the productive work that followed. And to what end? To send the state back to the drawing board. Again, no solutions. We simply do not have time for this sort of delay, or taxpayer money or state resources, to waste on attorneys’ fees and avoidable lawsuits that divert time and money from addressing climate change.

The legal, policy, modeling, and research necessary to develop the statutory, budget, management, and regulatory proposals the plan envisions, in the timeframe set, will require significant staffing and resources – work and positions that have not been funded by the Legislature. I recognize the House has included some onetime funding in its version of the FY21 budget, but this is onetime funding and it is unlikely to be sufficient. There are also no guarantees a final budget will include those resources. Given the Senate previously removed funding for this legislation and the House concurred with those changes, passage of the proper funding seems uncertain at best.

To prioritize the emission reductions necessary to address climate change, we need to learn the lessons of building a comprehensive clean water plan. H.688, as written, will lead to inefficient spending and long, costly court battles, not the tangible investments in climate-resilient infrastructure, and affordable weatherization and clean transportation options that Vermonters need.

In January, I proposed applying a portion of the revenues from the efficiency charge toward electrification of the transportation sector, our largest contributor to global warming. This month, the Legislature passed S.337, An act relating to energy efficiency entities and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the thermal energy and transportation sectors. S.337 is consistent with that direction, as well as with strategic goals in Vermont’s 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan and the goals of the Climate Action Commission. This bill exemplifies the type of practical and concrete solutions we need and can implement without additional costs to Vermonters.

These are the types of measures that have immediate impact on fighting global warming.

While I am vetoing H.688, I hope the Legislature will revisit it before it adjourns, or at the very least in January, using my input and what we have learned from our clean water work to make it better.

In the meantime, I will ask that the Legislature send me S.337 forthwith so we can take a valuable step forward.

Sincerely,

Philip B. Scott
Governor

Image courtesy of Vermont National Guard

11 thoughts on “Gov. Phil Scott vetoes H.688, Global Warming Solutions Act

  1. I made some revisions to my recent comment regarding GWSA, after talking to legislative gurus.

    Please note the extreme effort required, COSTING ABOUT $6.32 BILLION, to reduce CO2 from 9.02 million metric ton at end 2018 (latest numbers) to 7.46 MMt by January 1, 2025, a reduction of 1.56 MMt.
    However, the GWSA plan does not start until about late 2021. That leaves 2022, 2023, and 2024, just 3 years to reduce the 1.56 MMt

    VERMONT’S GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTIONS ACT, A DISASTER IN THE MAKING
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-s-global-warming-solutions-act-a-disaster-in-the-making

    Vermont has a Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP. The capital cost for implementing the CEP would be in excess of $1.0 billion/y for at least 33 years, per Energy Action Network annual report, not counting financing and replacements of short-life systems, such as EVs, heat pumps, battery storage systems, etc. See URLs.

    http://eanvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/EAN-2015-Annual-Report-Low-Res-Final.pdf
    https://outside.vermont.gov/sov/webservices/Shared%20Documents/2016CEP_Final.pdf

    GWSA Council: Per House Bill 688, aka GWSA, a 23-person Council likely would be the sole decider how hundreds of millions of $dollars would be spent, each year, for decades, with no relief ever, because:

    The Council make-up would include:

    1) Eight Government Secretaries and Commissioners
    2) Eight members appointed by the Speaker of the House
    3) Seven members appointed by the “Committee on Committees”. Who is serving on these committees?
    See URL
    https://legiscan.com/VT/text/H0688/2019

    The Governor’s Secretary of Administration would be the Chairman.
    He/she has the power to call meetings.
    If he/she delays calling meetings, any 12 of 23 members could call a meeting.

    NOTE: The Governor would have only 8 votes, plus may be a few more, but likely not 5, i.e., the Governor could not override the 12 members calling a meeting.

    The action sequence would be as follows:

    Council would approve plans.
    VT Agency of Natural Resources, ANR, would write rules to implement plans,
    Council would approve rules
    Approved rules sent to the Governor’s Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules, ICAR
    ICAR is composed of Governor Appointees
    ICAR can reject the rules, i.e., the Governor can stop the process.

    What happens next likely would be lawsuits
    Any entity, such as the Conservation Law Foundation, could sue the state, if Council decisions would not reduce CO2 in accordance with GSWA/CEP goals.

    NOTE: At no time does any legislator vote on any plan, or the proposed rules. They would be “off-the-hook”

    GWSA Likely is Unconstitutional: On the face of it, Bill 688 has to be unconstitutional, because the Governor, and his administration, appear to have no effective say in any Council decisions.
    Such extremism could only come about due to the present, veto-proof control by Dem/Progs.

    GWSA Financial Implications: Most legislators have not a clue regarding the reductions of CO2 and the turnkey capital cost to achieve them.
    This article has some background numbers regarding GWSA.
    This article includes an analysis of the Energy Action Network CO2-reduction plan for the 2020 – 2025 period

    Bill 688-Required Gross Emissions reductions

    1) 26%+ below 2005, i.e., (1 – 0.27) x 10.22 = 7.46 MMt, by Jan. 1, 2025, to “meet Paris”
    The CO2 reduction would be 9.02 at end 2018 – 7.46 = 1.56 MMt, during the 3-y period.

    Please note the extreme effort required, COSTING ABOUT $6.32 BILLION, to reduce CO2 from 9.02 MMt at end 2018 (latest numbers) to 7.46 MMt by January 1, 2025, a reduction of 1.56 MMt.
    However, the GWSA plan does not start until about late 2021.
    That leaves 2022, 2023, and 2024, just 3 years, to reduce the 1.56 MMt
    See table 1A and Note.

    NOTE: The Council would take a year to develop plans, which means most of 2021 would have elapsed before any action. The CO2 reduction appears to be a physical and financial impossibility.

    2) 40%+ below 1990, i.e., (1 – 0.40) x 8.59 = 5.15 MMt, by Jan. 1, 2030
    The CO2 reduction would be 7.46, Jan 1, 2025 – 5.15, Jan. 1, 2030 = 2.31 MMt, during the 5-y period

    3) 80%+ below 1990, i.e., (1 – 0.80) x 8.59 = 1.72 MMt, by January 1, 2050
    The CO2 reduction would be 5.15, Jan. 1, 2030 – 1.72, Jan. 1 2050 = 3.43 MMt, during the 20-y period

    Vermont Gross Emissions, actual

    9.00 MMt in 2012
    9.99 MMt in 2015
    9.76 MMt in 2016
    9.41 MMt in 2017, estimated
    9.02 MMt in 2018, estimated

    See figs. 1 and 16 of URL
    https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/aqc/climate-change/documents/_Vermont_Greenhouse_Gas_Emissions_Inventory_Update_1990-2015.pdf

    See page 18 of URL
    https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/aqc/climate-change/documents/_Vermont_Greenhouse_Gas_Emissions_Inventory_and_Forecast_1990-2016.pdf

    US Gross Emissions

    About 6,700 MMt in 2018
    Vermont emissions are just a tiny fraction of US emissions.
    https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions

    Table 1A/B 688 Emissions Emissions Emissions Emissions Emissions Cap. Cost
    Actual Reduction Reduction Reduction
    Year MMt % 1-Jan MMt MMt $billion
    2005 10.22 27 2025 2.76 7.46 6.32
    1990 8.59 40 2030 3.44 5.15
    1990 8.59 80 2050 6.87 1.72

    EAN plan
    2016 9.76 23.4 2025 2.28 9.25

  2. Per House Bill 688, aka GWSA, a 23-person Council would be deciding how hundreds of millions of $dollars would be spent, EACH YEAR, FOR DECADES, WITH NO RELIEF EVER, BECAUSE OF LAW SUITS by any Tom, Dick, and Harry?

    The Governor’s Secretary of Administration would be the Chairman, but he would have no power to call, or not call, Council meetings; that would be decided by majority vote of the Council.

    The Council make-up would include:

    1) Eight Government Secretaries and Commissioners
    2) Eight members appointed by the Speaker of the House
    3) Seven members appointed by the “Committee on Committees”. Who is serving on these committees?
    See URL
    https://legiscan.com/VT/text/H0688/2019

    On the face of it, Bill 688 has to be unconstitutional, because the Governor appears to have no say in any decisions.
    That extremism could only come about due to VETO-PROOF CONTROL BY DEM/PROGS.

    Most legislators have not a clue regarding the reductions of CO2 and the turnkey capital cost to achieve them.
    This article has some background numbers regarding GWSA.
    This article includes observations regarding the Energy Action Network CO2-reduction plan for the 2020 – 2025 period

    Bill 688-Required Gross Emissions reductions

    1) 26%+ below 2005, i.e., (1 – 0.27) x 10.22 = 7.46 MMt, by Jan. 1, 2025, to “meet Paris”
    The CO2 reduction would be 10.22 – 7.46 = 2.76 MMt, during the 3-y period.
    The turnkey capital cost would be at least $11.19 billion, during the 3-y period.
    See table 1A and Note.

    NOTE: The Council would take a year to develop plans, which means most of 2021 would have elapsed before any action. The CO2 reduction appears to be a physical and financial impossibility.

    2) 40%+ below 1990, i.e., (1 – 0.40) x 8.59 = 5.15 MMt, by Jan. 1, 2030
    The CO2 reduction would be 7.46, Jan 1, 2025 – 5.15, Jan. 1, 2030 = 2.31 MMt, during the 5-y period

    3) 80%+ below 1990, i.e., (1 – 0.80) x 8.59 = 1.72 MMt, by January 1, 2050
    The CO2 reduction would be 5.15, Jan. 1, 2030 – 1.72, Jan. 1 2050 = 3.43 MMt, during the 20-y period

    Vermont Gross Emissions, actual

    9.00 MMt in 2012
    9.99 MMt in 2015
    9.76 MMt in 2016
    9.41 MMt in 2017, estimated
    9.02 MMt in 2018, estimated

    See figs. 1 and 16 of URL
    https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/aqc/climate-change/documents/_Vermont_Greenhouse_Gas_Emissions_Inventory_Update_1990-2015.pdf

    See page 18 of URL
    https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/aqc/climate-change/documents/_Vermont_Greenhouse_Gas_Emissions_Inventory_and_Forecast_1990-2016.pdf

    US Gross Emissions

    About 6,700 MMt in 2018
    Vermont emissions are just a tiny fraction of US emissions.
    https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions

  3. THE GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTIONS ACT A DECADES-LONG BURDEN ON VERMONT
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/the-global-warming-solutions-act-a-decades-long-burden-on-vermont

    The Vermont House passed the bill of the Global Warming “Solutions” Act, GWSA, and sent it to the Vermont Senate, which also passed it. The bill, if enacted, would convert the aspirational goals of the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP, into mandated goals, with penalties. GWSA has been called “must pass this Session”.

    In Vermont, the only thing that makes any sense is to stop “emulating” California, immediately scrap GWSA, and concentrate on:

    1) Energy conservation
    2) Energy efficiency
    3) Building net-zero-energy, and energy-surplus houses and other buildings, by the thousands, each year. See Appendix
    4) Provide incentives to buy vehicles that get more than 35 mpg, EPA combined; the more above the limit, the greater the incentive.
    5) Charge annual fees, paid at time of registration, on existing and new vehicles that get less than 25 mpg, EPA combined; the more below the limit, the greater the fee.

    The above 4 items would save money for Vermonters, and make the state economy more competitive
    Most of the other energy measures is just expensively subsidized hogwash that would not make one iota of difference regarding climate change.

  4. Regardless of a veto-override, this type of legislation will appear again, until it becomes law. Unless some sort of parity is reached in the legislature, Vermont is stuck. Tim Ashe’s statement that the veto was “so unfortunate” and bi-partisan action was needed is ridiculous verbiage. Queen Mitzi seems to think shooting ourselves in the foot with this legislation is acceptable. So how has she insulated herself from the impacts of this piece of liberal logic?

  5. Thank you Governor! It is time to stop these liberals from trying to run roughshod over the taxpayers of this state with their outrageous and emotional ideology!

  6. Thank you Governor Scott for vetoing the worse public policy bill I have ever seen come out of the legislature. The impact to Vermonters, VT. businesses, municipalities, hospitals etc. would be huge and expensive. And for what? Fully implemented the bill would have zero effect on global emissions.

    Time to vote out the loonies in the legislature and get some common sense back in the place.

  7. Hooray. Let’s thank the Governor for his clear thinking and common sense. I begged him to veto this bill that is so radical, undemocratic, and costly.

  8. VERMONT’S GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTIONS ACT, A DISASTER IN THE MAKING
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-s-global-warming-solutions-act-a-disaster-in-the-making

    Vermont has a Comprehensive Energy Plan, CEP. The capital cost for implementing the CEP would be in excess of $1.0 billion/y for at least 33 years, per Energy Action Network annual report, not counting financing and replacements of short-life systems, such as EVs, heat pumps, battery storage systems, etc. See URLs.

    http://eanvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/EAN-2015-Annual-Report-Low-Res-Final.pdf
    https://outside.vermont.gov/sov/webservices/Shared%20Documents/2016CEP_Final.pdf

    Per House Bill 688, aka GWSA, a 23-person Council would be deciding how hundreds of millions of $dollars would be spent, EACH YEAR, FOR DECADES, WITH NO RELIEF EVER, BECAUSE OF LAW SUITS by any Tom, Dick, and Harry?

    The Chief of Administration would be the Chairman, but he would have no power to call, or not call, Council meetings; that would be decided by majority vote of the Council.

    On the face of it, Bill 688 has to be unconstitutional!!!
    That could only come about due to VETO-PROOF CONTROL BY DEM/PROGS.

    Most legislators have not a clue regarding the reductions of CO2 and the turnkey capital cost to achieve them.
    This article has some background numbers regarding GWSA.
    This article includes observations regarding the Energy Action Network CO2-reduction plan for the 2020 – 2025 period

    Bill 688-Required Gross Emissions reductions

    26%+ below 2005, i.e., (1 – 0.27) x 10.22 = 7.46 MMt, by January 1, 2025, to “meet Paris”, or a reduction of 2.76 MMt
    40%+ below 1990, i.e., (1 – 0.40) x 8.59 = 5.15 MMt, by January 1, 2030, or a reduction of 3.44 MMt
    80%+ below 1990, i.e., (1 – 0.80) x 8.59 = 1.72 MMt, by January 1, 2050, or a reduction of 6.87 MMt

    Vermont Gross Emissions, actual

    9.00 MMt in 2012
    9.99 MMt in 2015
    9.76 MMt in 2016
    9.41 MMt in 2017, estimated
    9.02 MMt in 2018, estimated

    See figs. 1 and 16 of URL
    https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/aqc/climate-change/documents/_Vermont_Greenhouse_Gas_Emissions_Inventory_Update_1990-2015.pdf

    See page 18 of URL
    https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/aqc/climate-change/documents/_Vermont_Greenhouse_Gas_Emissions_Inventory_and_Forecast_1990-2016.pdf

    US Gross Emissions

    About 6,700 MMt in 2018
    Vermont emissions are just a tiny fraction of US emissions.
    https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions

    Table 1A/B 688 Emissions Emissions Emissions Emissions Emissions Cap. Cost
    Actual Reduction Reduction Reduction
    Year MMt % 1-Jan MMt MMt $billion
    2005 10.22 27 2025 2.76 7.46 11.19
    1990 8.59 40 2030 3.44 5.15
    1990 8.59 80 2050 6.87 1.72

    EAN plan
    2016 9.76 23.4 2025 2.281 9.25

    ENERGY ACTION NETWORK CO2 REDUCTION PLAN FOR 2020 – 2025
    https://www.eanvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/EAN-report-2020-final.pdf

    EAN listed the measures required to reduce CO2 from 9.76, in 2016 to 7.46, in 2025, for a reduction of 2.281 MMt.
    That CO2 reduction has an estimated capital cost of at least $9.25 billion.
    Bill 688 has a reduction of 2.76 MMt, by 2025, i.e., its estimated capital cost would be 2.76/2.281 x $9.25 billion = $11.19 billion
    See table 1

    CO2 reduction would be 8.59, in 1990 – 7.46, in 2025 = 1.13 MMt, or 13% below 1990, per EAN Plan
    CO2 reduction would be 8.59, in 1990 – 5.15, in 2030 = 3.44 MMt, or 40% below 1990, just 5 years later, per B 688, which surely is a physical and financial impossibility

    Capital Cost Estimate of EAN Plan

    I made a turnkey capital cost estimate of the EAN plan, because EAN did not, but should have.

    EVs: 90,000 x $40000/small EV = $3.6 billion; installation rate 18000/y vs about 750/y, at present
    High-speed in-house chargers: 90,000 x $2000 = $0.18 billion

    “Deep” retrofits: 90,000 x $30,000/housing unit = $2.7 billion
    ASHPs for space heat: 90,000 x $5,000/housing unit = $0.45 billion; installation rate 18000/y vs about 2900/y, at present
    ASHPs for DHW: 90,000 x $3,000/system = $0.27 billion; installation rate 18000/y vs about 1000/y, at present

    Wind turbines: 250000/(8766 x 0.30) x $2.5 million/MW = $0.095 Billion
    Solar systems: 700000/(8766 x 0.14) x $3.5 million/MW = $0.57 Billion
    Expanding/augmenting of the grid: $0.1 billion
    Fortress Vermont to deal with excessive DUCK-curves, due to midday solar surges.
    Energy storage: $0.9 billion
    Curtailment payments: $0.3 billion

    Hydro power plants: 50000/(8766 x 0.40) x $6 million/MW = $0.086 billion

    The turnkey capital cost would be exceeding $9.25 billion, during 2020 – 2025, about $1.85 billion/y.

    NOTE: EAN-proposed solar build-outs would be from 438.84 dc, at end 2019 to at least 1000 MW dc, at end 2025
    Solar is the most expensive electricity on the Vermont grid. It would not be smart to have more of it.
    It requires about 3.5 acres per MW, and is charged to the utility rate base at 11 to 21 c/kWh

  9. Governor Scott has done hisxduty. Now it’s up to Vermonters to do theirs on election day and vote in level headed folksxwho will support the governor.

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