House Energy Committee hears another pitch for the carbon tax

Michael Bielawski/TNR

CARBON TAX IS BACK: David Farnsworth, senior associate of the Regulatory Assistance Project, shared his thoughts with the House Education Committee on how a carbon tax could work for Vermont.

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The House Energy and Technology Committee on Tuesday heard again why Vermont needs a carbon tax, this time from David Farnsworth, senior associate of the Regulatory Assistance Project.

The anti-fossil-fuel proposal, H.791, is modeled after the ESSEX Plan and aims to tax carbon-based fuels and pass the revenue on to electric utilities.

Farnsworth told the committee carbon-tax schemes have been done successfully elsewhere and therefore should be strongly considered for Vermont.

“There are over 40 countries that put a price on carbon and there are others working on it all the time,” he said. “The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative [RGGI], which is a cap-and-trade program for the electric sector [for] nine northeastern states, is an example of this.

“It teaches us that putting a price on carbon is only part of the deal; the other very important part where you get a lot of traction is in investment associated with it.”

But when Farnsworth made various claims about the RGGI program’s positive economic impact, state Rep. Corey Parent, R-St. Albans, asked for details over the numbers.

“You spoke briefly when you were talking about RGGI, how in the first year they raised $1 billion and got $1.6 billion in benefit out of that,” Parent said. “Can you quantify how you calculated 1.6, because every organization that comes in here tells us that every dollar we invest has been getting this kind of return.”

Farnsworth stated that the numbers come from the RGGI program, but added that he thought such high returns may come from investing revenues into improved efficiency efforts such as new insulation and cold-heat pumps for homes.

Parent also questioned how the tax would change the energy use habits of Vermonters.

“Programs like switching to electric vehicles, replacing windows, replacing furnaces, replacing roofs — those are all expensive ticket items,” Parent said. “It speaks to the price and the elasticity of energy; none of us are going out to replace a car tomorrow if gas costs a dollar more a gallon.

Farnsworth said it would take time for new efficiency items to proliferate the market, but when they do the prices come down and the need to subsidize dissipates. He pointed to LED lighting, which used to be more expensive than conventional light bulbs, but not so much anymore.

“Efficiencies are not easy to sell … [but] they save money.”

Rep. Warren Van Wyck, R-Ferrisburgh, expressed concern about Vermont doing a carbon tax on its own, since it’s such a small state with no impact on global CO2 levels.

“I’d be very concerned about Vermont going it alone on this because of the proximity of other states. … I don’t see how this bill addresses those concerns,” he said.

Farnsworth said this is what they call “leakage” in economics. “When you cap here, we just all run over here and do business over here and then come back and live under this cap,” he said.

Again referring to the RGGI program, he said the cost of electricity is “a little bit more expensive” than neighboring states, but the leakage has been minimal.

“You haven’t seen that flight. You haven’t seen companies saying, ‘Well I’m going to go do a contract with some generator in Pennsylvania,’” he said.

“And I think you haven’t seen it because it’s a modest program.”

For 2017, the added cost of carbon for the RGGI program was $2.15 per ton, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

There have been analysis reports of RGGI’s total economic impact, which covers one-sixth of the U.S. population. While a couple of reports make the claim that RGGI results in a net economic benefit, they do confirm that electricity users pay more since its implementation.

“Power plant owners have spent roughly $912 million to buy CO2 allowances. Consumers now pay regional electricity rates that reflect a price on CO2 emissions,” the report by the Analysis Group states.

The report goes on to state that carbon emissions have dropped, and further claims that all of the costs have been returned to the economy “in a myriad of ways,” most of which are green energy initiatives. A portion goes directly back to low-income energy users.

Another report by Georgetown University admits that the costs to the power suppliers were made up by money from customers.

“Generators recover all of their early allowance expenditures through the increase in electricity
prices during the 2009–2011 period,” reads the report.

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

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

13 thoughts on “House Energy Committee hears another pitch for the carbon tax

  1. Vermont when will you start voting these fool out of office ………………….this liberal BS has to stop !!

  2. Just another liberal democrat redistribution scheme. Steal money from hardworking Vermonters and redistribute as they see fit, (generally to folks who will vote for them and their handout schemes). Harm hardworking Vermonters while having zero measurable effect on climate change, brilliant.
    Ps. Anyone else been banned from “Vermont digger” it appears they should not be classified as a non political/non profit since they ban people with conservative views.

    • Yes, I have noticed that Vermont Digger is extremely biased against conservative thinkers. I think they also almost always, require you to subsidized their propaganda outlet. Are you aware that agencies of the State of Vermont actually help subsidize them? Yup…posted last year…..that means YOUR taxes are subsidizing them.

  3. Heat Pump Follies Promoted by Efficiency Vermont, etc.

    Matt Cota, executive director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association testified: “Cold climate heat pumps are inadequate during the colder days in winter. Many households with heat pumps found they could not adequately heat their houses. They had to turn off the heat pumps, which are very inefficient in cold weather, and turn on their oil and propane stoves or their wood stoves.”

    Many households with heat pumps (installed cost about $3500/heat pump) have to turn on their propane furnaces, oil furnaces, and wood stoves to keep warm. These households, bamboozled into “saving the world”, had been sold a bill of goods, i.e., scammed, by 1) Efficiency Vermont, and 2) installation contractors approved by Efficiency Vermont, and 3) the fantasizing, rah-rah, 100% RE, sustainability/climate change loonies in Montpelier, etc.

    Heat pumps are wasteful, unless your house is super-insulated, i.e., a near-zero energy house.
    Heat pumps have their lowest efficiencies at low temperatures, which occur when space heating is greatest.
    Heat pumps do not provide enough heat for any room, or any house.
    Most households do not use them in the winter, when it is colder; the increase in the monthly GMP electric bill is exorbitant.
    Heat pumps work great for A/C in the summers, but the monthly GMP electric bill increases $30 to $40.

  4. EVs and Plug-in Hybrids in New England:

    The all-knowing state bureaucrats, working together with self-styled transportation gurus, and RE activists, want to force people to drive electric vehicles.

    The same folks pushing for a unilateral carbon tax also are pushing for plug-in vehicles, including light duty vehicles, LDVs, buses and trucks. Never mind the plug-in buses and trucks are still in their infancy. Vermont, with chronic budget deficits, must have money to burn on various follies.

    Market Penetration: Here are some facts on plug-ins (EVs and plug-in hybrids)

    US: The number of plug-ins on US roads has increased during the past 6 years.
    Plug-in sales are expected to be about 1.2% of all LDV sales in 2017.

    Vermont: In Vermont, the number of plug-ins increased from 88 in July 2012 to 1522 in January 2017. Pure EVs totaled
    330, or about 330/1522 = 22% of all plug-ins.

    The plug-in increase was about 1522 – 1113 = 409 from Jan. 2016 to Jan. 2017. New vehicle registrations were 41000. That represented about 409/41000 = 1.0% of all new vehicle registrations. The Comprehensive Energy Plan goal is 4700 new plug-in registrations in 2025. See page 164 of CEP.

    People favor hybrids over EVs, because EVs just do not have the range and are terrible performers under Vermont winter conditions. See below.

    In Vermont, the two vehicles shown in the table totaled about 48%, of all plug-in hybrids. The Chevy-Bolt, a pure EV (not a hybrid), was added to the table, because it was the second-best selling EV in the US in 2017.

    Most popular in Vermont Battery Plug-in hybrid mileage
    Toyota Prius Prime 8.8 kWh 25 miles electric; 55 city/53 hwy/54 combined hybrid
    Ford C-Max Energi 7.6 kWh 19 miles electric; 42 city/38 hwy/40 combined hybrid
    Chevy-Bolt EV 60.0 kWh 238 miles electric, city 255 miles, hwy 217 miles

    Vermont’s 22 fast-charging and 88 slow-charging stations are predominantly clustered in and near three towns: Burlington, Montpelier, and Rutland. The RE activists in these towns would like to have:

    – More charging stations, located mostly in and near their towns, and have 1) other Vermonters, 2) carbon taxes, and 3) Volkswagen “diesel-gate” settlement money to pay for them.
    – The charging electricity to be tax-free, low-cost, or for free

    Cost shifting and subsidies are the name of the game to “improve” the payback of plug-ins.

  5. Vermont Unilateral Carbon Tax an Economic Headwind:

    Various RE interests and lobbyists are going around the state to promote a unilateral carbon tax to save RE businesses, because future federal subsidies will be decreasing.

    The unilateral carbon tax would take $240 to $300 million out of people’s pockets and transfer it to the state government. A unilateral carbon tax would significantly increase the cost of gasoline and diesel for driving, and of fuel oil and propane for heating.

    As part of various state programs, some people would get some money back as rebates, many others would get nothing back, or much less than paid in.

    For Vermont to impose a unilateral carbon tax would make its economy less competitive versus other states, i.e., more brain drain, more TAX-PAYING households leaving the state (TAX-CONSUMING families are staying), and fewer good-paying, steady, full-time jobs, with good benefits in the private sector. A unilateral carbon tax would be another headwind for the anemic, near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy.

    A unilateral carbon tax would further aggrandize Vermont’s government, which is too large, too inefficient, spending too much money, is bloated with programs, and is running annual deficits, that are offset with annual increases of taxes, fees and surcharges, as if money grows on trees.

    After six long years of out-of-control spending, Vermont finally has a governor, who aims to reduce the bloated, wasteful state government to enable the anemic, hollowed-out private sector to start growing again.

  6. Vermont Lagging Behind Other NE States: Vermont has been sliding backwards regarding economic growth, compared to other NE states during 2012-2016, because of various expensive follies, such as:

    – The huge adverse impact of all the state mandated, expensive, subsidized renewables
    – The state usurping dominance in centralizing control of education, instead of local control of education
    – Socialist-style experimenting with healthcare systems
    – Vermont having a bloated, inefficient government that suffocates the private sector.

    These follies have become an increasing headwind that further reduces the near-zero, real-growth of the anemic Vermont economy.

  7. Carbon Taxes, Subsidies and Cost Shifting: Senator Bray of Vermont does not get it. He announced he wants to eliminate the sales tax on the first $30,000 cost of buying an EV. He wants to SHIFT the burden of sales taxes from a few upscale-income buyers of electric vehicles onto all other taxpayers. That means upscale-income people benefit at the expense of others.

    This means 1) an $1800 saving for the upscale-income buyers, 2) the state having less revenue and 3) the state having bigger CHRONIC deficits, and 4) other taxpayers paying more. There is no free lunch, except in LaLaLand.

    Legislators like Bray have been giving away the store to please RE constituents for at least a decade.
    Did Vermont’s annual CO2 decrease due to all these RE giveaways these last 10 years? No!
    Throw more money at it? Oh yes, says Bray and other legislators.
    All the hyping about reducing CO2 to save the world was just to bamboozle the long-suffering Vermonters.

    Legislators sponsoring carbon taxes likely have near-zero experience designing energy systems and the economic impacts of their mandates. About 25 Democrat legislators just get on the carbon tax bandwagon with their Essex Plan and rah-rah along.

    – Legislators and Vermonters have no idea how much has been given away in terms of tax credits, subsidies, accelerated write offs, surcharges and fees by various energy bills and mandates over the years.
    – No rational central accounting exists. The numbers are all spread over the place, likely on purpose.
    – Almost nothing it properly vetted and exposed to the public.
    – The state auditor likely knows about some of it, but apparently ignores it.

    The RE shenanigan factor is much bigger than the $200 million EB-5 fraud (the largest ever in the US), and $200 million healthcare website fiascos.

    When recurring revenue gaps occur, legislators and bureaucrats pretend to have not a clue as to how that came about.

    A unilateral carbon tax, $240 to $300 million PER YEAR, would further aggrandize state government, would raise the ante of foolish spending by about a factor of 3 – 4, and increase social discord.

  8. I can’t think of a better way for the state to steal the monies gained from the tax cuts.
    Let the wage earner keep a little more of their earnings…no way, not on our watch, say the Democrats’.

  9. It’s all about filling the general fund for buying votes via social give away programs and nothing more.

  10. CARBON TAX IS BACK: David Farnsworth, senior associate of the Regulatory Assistance Project, shared his thoughts with the House Education Committee on how a ” carbon tax ” could work for Vermont .

    Here is the underlying word ” COULD ” he didn’t say ” would ” work . This is just another liberal save the world Boondoogle, if VT would implement such a disastrous plan it will completely kill the
    fragile economy here, something we know the flatlanders want !!

    If VT passes this Bill , it time to move people !! Better yet , lets move these fool out of Montpelier .

  11. Yea state emissions keep dropping…. (if you actually belive all this bs)……. because people are leaving this state to go south period. Hmmm i wonder why….. oh yea….. it cost way to damn much to live and operate in Vermont, and montpellier wonders why the younger generations coming out of college leave vermont. No economic advances at all in this state. Businesses will and are going else where

  12. Go ahead, pass the damned thing!! You know that they will keep bringing this back, just like gun control, session after session. So go ahead and pass it. This should be the nail in the coffin that finally gets the Democrats thrown out of power in Vermont. What a pitiful mess the Dems have made of Vermont. An over taxed state, run mostly by extremist liberal transplants, with a bloated bureaucracy in Montpelier hell bent on controlling anything and everything and turning it into another socialist paradise like Venezuela.

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