House committee mulls making employers reduce commuter traffic

By Guy Page

The Vermont House Transportation Committee is shelving — for now — a plan to require Vermont employers to participate in “the statewide reduction in single-occupancy pleasure car trips.”

Wikimedia Commons/Erum Patel

As first drafted in the work-in-progress House Transportation Bill, employers of 50 or more would be required to develop a “transportation demand management plan” to reduce vehicle trips.

Virtually all cars are defined by state law as “pleasure cars.” The aim of the legislation is to decrease the number of Vermonters driving to work alone in their so-called “pleasure” cars, in pursuit of carbon emissions reduction. More than 76% of Americans (including those living in large metro areas with robust public transportation) commute to work alone in their cars, according to a Brookings Institute study.

As first drafted in the work-in-progress House Transportation Bill, employers of 50 or more would be required to develop a “transportation demand management plan” to reduce vehicle trips. Examples include telecommuting; incentives to carpool, walk, bicycle, or ride public transit; and staggered work shifts. A Feb. 26 revision instead creates and funds a pilot program for selected employers of 500 or more to implement an 18-month pilot transportation demand management program.

Transportation demand management is most advanced on America’s populous, Red State west coast, in cities such as Seattle and Santa Monica, Calif., according to Smart Growth America.

The proposed T-bill also includes:

  • State funding for incentives of up to $2,500 for a household earning up to $125,000 and $4,000 for households earning up to $50,000 for the purchase of electric vehicles (EVs) valued at $40,000 or less.
  • State funding for a dealer incentive of $400 per sale or lease of each qualified EV
  • Plans for a per-kilowatt charging fee at charging stations.

Besides the House Transportation Bill, other energy-related bills are likely to see movement in the final half of the second year of the 2019-20 biennieum.

The Global Warming Solutions Act (H.688) recently passed the House 105-37 and turns Vermont’s goals for carbon emission reductions into requirements. It requires:

  • Appointment of a Climate Council within 60 days of H.688 becoming law, and the council to meet within 30 days after that;
  • An emissions reduction action plan developed by the Climate Council by Dec. 1, 2021
  • Administrative rules from the Agency of Natural Resources to enact the plan by Dec. 1, 2022

In other news

If the state fails to meet emissions reduction goals, environmental groups can sue the state for non-compliance, and a judge may order them to comply.

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe) said she likes plenty about the bill — notably its insistence that Vermont not only reduce carbon emissions but also build adaptation and resiliency to changing weather patterns — but she abhors the Legislature’s willingness to let the state bureaucracy and the courts make the tough calls.

“Frankly, the Global Warming Solutions Act as currently drafted is the legislative equivalent of the Staples “Easy” button,” she wrote in a report to her constituents. “The majority of the House overwhelmingly approved this bill, and seemingly don’t believe that tghis ceding of our authority is problematic. Remember, though, the majority of the House also supported Act 46 [leading to an appointed board forcing school mergers] and seemingly didn’t believe that ceding of our authority was problematic.”

S.220 requires workers in the trades, engineers, architects, real estate industry workers, and other building-related industries take energy-related courses as a condition of licensing and license renewal.

A renewable energy standard bill requiring a “Fortress Vermont” 100% renewable, instate electricity — (S.267) has been discussed in Senate Natural Resources and Energy and is now in Senate Finance Committee. Vermont transmission grid officials say it would add $1.2 billion over five years in power demand management alone. The bill would limit the role of out-of-state zero carbon power generation such as Hydro Quebec and New England nuclear power.

An “all-fuels” efficiency bill (S.337) now in the House moves efficiency utilities to go beyond electricity and into thermal and transportation sectors. This subject will be discussed at the quarterly annual meeting of the ISO-New England Consumer LIaison group Thursday, March 12 at noon at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock. Lunch is free but reservations are required.

The Senate Transportation committee is developing a bill to commit Vermont to the regional Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), if certain trigger criteria are met. TCI would raise the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel bought at the pump and deliver revenue proceeds to renewable power, energy efficiency, and public transportation programs. Presumably the “trigger criteria” include participation from other states, which isn’t happening. New Hampshire and other New England states are backing away from subjecting their residents to a transportation carbon tax.

S.282forest carbon sequestration, is in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Energy. The bill would add staff to help landowners sell ‘carbon storage credits’ and study the possibility of enrolling state lands in a “carbon offset” market.

California already has a robust forest carbon sequestration market, but the Vermont Forest Products Association winter newsletter wonders why we shouldn’t work harder to put Vermont emissions reduction first. “Would it not be more in our interests to count storage of forests in Vermont against Vermont’s carbon emissions? Vermont forests absorb 47% of all carbon emissions, so aren’t we half way there?”

For any bill to move forward this session, legislative rules (which can be waived) say it must be voted out by all relevant policy committees by March 13, and approved by a money committee –like Appropriations or Ways and Means — by March 20 if it includes any proposed spending, taxes or fees. After those “crossover” deadlines, policy ideas can still be tucked into other bills that are on the move.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Erum Patel

15 thoughts on “House committee mulls making employers reduce commuter traffic

  1. why aren’t we developing teleporters??? or big vacuum tubes.??? or easier yet
    competent legislators who aren’t hell bent on destroying VT, with leftist AGENDA, as we use to know it…

  2. So here’s an idea. How about we make it a law that school kids have to ride the school bus to and from school? That way we wont have 65 passenger school busses running around with a half dozen kids on them. The carbon footprint from the dozens of parents with big SUV’s that truck these kids around would be eliminated and the sky would stop falling. Lets focus on something that might actually work. Most factories employees carpool when it makes sense. Stop coming up with more things for “other” people to do. This is already happening on its own. No need for the legislature to weight in on this.

  3. “An “all-fuels” efficiency bill (S.337) now in the House moves efficiency utilities to go beyond electricity and into thermal and transportation sectors. This subject will be discussed at the quarterly annual meeting of the ISO-New England Consumer LIaison group Thursday, March 12 at noon at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock. Lunch is free but reservations are required.”

    Incompetent Efficiency Vermont is one of the major hypers of air source heat pumps, claiming $1200 – $1800 per year in savings, but ACTUAL savings averaged $200/y, per CADMUS/VT-DPS survey. See URL
    The heavily subsidized ASHPs program is an expensive, ineffectual FLOP.

    CEP Goals for Building Space Heat and Domestic Hot Water

    63% from renewable electricity (wind, solar, hydro, biomass, etc.)
    34% from wood burning (cordwood/pellet) and bio liquids.
    3% from fossil fuels burning.

    The CEP has a goal to install about 35,000 air source heat pumps, ASHPs, by 2025. ASHPs installed were:

    2016, 4118
    2017, 4161
    2018, 2786

    The 2018 decrease is likely due to ASHP owners, in energy-hog houses, becoming aware the average energy cost savings are minimal. If other costs are added (amortizing, service calls, parts, etc.), they would have an annual loss. See URL.

    This article shows, an ASHP in an average energy-hog house in VT:

    – Provided the owner energy cost savings of about $200/y. See table 7 and URL of VT-DPS website
    – Required a turnkey capital cost of about $4,500/ASHP; excludes subsidies.
    – Required 2085 kWh/y to displace only 28% of the space heat of the traditional fuels, and reduced CO2 from 25,123 lb/y to 20,129 lb/y, or 20.0%. See table 1 and 6
    – Would require 10,127 kWh/y to displace 100% of space heat of the traditional fuels, and would reduce CO2 from 25,123 lb/y to 8,231 lb/y, or 67.2%. See table 1 and 6.

    NOTE: If the house were highly sealed/highly insulated, the electricity for 100% space heat from ASHPs would be about 3,000 kWh/y

    If the CEP objective is to “get rid of” fossil fuels and reduce CO2, then the use of ASHPs in energy-hog houses in VT, NH, ME, etc., has been an expensive, ineffectual flop.

  4. I drive a F-350, 4 x 4, dually, extended cab, full body, 1 ton diesel. Best vehicle ever. It gets 20MPH. and very comfortable and can do many uses. As the saying goes “from my cold dead hands”. Never felt so safe in driving it with all the crazies on the road. And I’ve driven in all 50 states and over 2 million miles since my early days. Stingy-no, just want to be safe.

  5. The plan is to move us all into the city. There they will be more able to control us. Then will come soylent green and the huge outlying green space filled with what ever wild beasts that they can clone from DNA. Anyone who opposes this this will be neutralized.

  6. Yup, just more Liberal nonsense, it’s bad enough they want all your money now they
    want to tell you how to live your life ……. socialist or Communist ??

    We the people need to vote these fools out !!

  7. Here is an article that reveals the state of the EV market in the US.
    The low end EV’s aren’t really worth much for commuting more than thirty miles one way. Put three or four people in them and the range will drop. Hopefully, those in the back seat are short legged people and none are over six feet tall.
    What fools these mere mortals be!

  8. How come that bunch of bureaucrat jackasses have all of a sudden become experts about how Vermonters should be using their cars?

    I can assure you, there is nothing “pleasure”about my Subaru.

    I use it to do shopping, run errands.

    Where we live, there will never be any buses.

    The nearest store is about 11 miles away.

    Vermont is going to hell in a hand basket.

    All this managing by bureaucrats will lead to a command/control economy, a la USSR

  9. This is why they are collecting miles traveled in the unneeded annual inspections. They will, in time come after people they think are driving too much. Its a communist government we have. — In America they use to be public servants. Now they are rulers of the peasants.

  10. Next thing we’ll se is a Transportation Demand Transportation Managemeng Czar with a huge staff to burn tax payes’ dollars creating more air pollution. More pie in the sky at tax payers’ expense.

  11. Pardon my language but this state has gone effing nuts! All 600,000 vermonters could revert to living in mud huts and eating grass and it won’t make one iota of difference in the climate. And where the hell is the money coming from for all of this? Oh wait, businesses will pay for it. Good luck when we all close shop or leave the state! Counting the days till I can say I used to live in Vermont.

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