By Rob Roper
I have been closely following the testimony regarding the Global Warming Solutions Act, currently under debate in the House Energy and Technology Committee. Last week brought some unexpected honesty and clarity to the issue. Two students from the Vermont Youth Lobby came to advocate in favor of the bill, which would make mandatory the greenhouse gas emission reduction goals set out in statute. If the state fails to meet those goals under the proposed law, which it will, anyone could bring legal action to force compliance through the courts.
And here was the moment of honesty: Rep. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman (P-Middletown Springs) asked the kids how much “chaos” they would be willing to tolerate during a transition to a green economy. When the young lady in the witness chair asked for clarification that the “chaos” Chesnut-Tangerman was referring to was economic chaos, not environmental chaos, the Progressive Rep. replied, “They will not be mutually exclusive.” This is an admission that the policies these folks want to inflict on their constituents will result in economic chaos. Committee Chair Tim Briglin (D-Norwich) acknowledged that the economic disruption brought about by these policies would be significant.
And the moment of clarity came, ironically, with the most unclear spewing of word-vomit I think I’ve ever witnessed. One of the students, answering a question from Rep. Scott Campbell (D-St. Johnsbury) about how much economic chaos/personal sacrifice he’d be willing to put up with, responded with the following:
“For me, um, quantifying that is really hard because of the perspective. The perspective for me is, like Evelyn [the other student testifying] said, it’s all or nothing, so whether or not I’m going to be filling up my gas tank, or whether or not I can drive four hundred miles on a tank instead of five hundred, um, it’s meaningless to me because I’d rather drive four hundred miles than have an earth that’s uninhabitable. I’d rather drive four hundred miles and not be able to fill up my gas tank. I’d rather be composting and focusing on that. Whatever that myriad of things is — not having access to natural gas — I’m willing to suffer those consequences, and I can’t quantify that because I understand the perspective is — it’s that or it’s nothing. Like Evelyn said, it’s all or nothing and with that in mind I think that’s what allows us to look past the shortcomings, the chaos, and to really just focus on managing it because that’s all we have.”
What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine.
I understand that these are young kids and they are being largely manipulated by powerful special interests in this process, but it is pretty clear from this string of nonsense that they have no idea what it is they’re advocating for, or what the consequences will actually be if they succeed in getting what they ostensibly want. Driving 400 miles instead of 500 miles represents an all or nothing sacrifice to save the planet? Even if you throw in that little bit of composting, you’re not even in the universe of what would be required to achieve these goals. Giving up your driver’s license entirely would be a start. Limit your cell phone charging to enough for just one hour a day of screen time might be helpful. None at all would be even better! But no one on the committee thought to mention or inquire about such potential sacrifices. Let’s not get these kids thinking too much, after all.
Matt Cota of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, however, has given some serious thought to what the economic chaos could look like should the Global Warming Solutions Act pass, and here’s what he had to say:
“We have real fears. ‘Swift and decisive action’ in five years [the timeline set out in the GWSA to achieve reductions GHG reductions to 25% below 1990 levels] is right now is unknowable to us, and I can only make assumptions to what it could be. And it could be, possibly, depending upon which lawyer you talk to (and I’m not a lawyer), bans on combustion, bans on burners and boilers and furnaces that use fossil fuels, bans on vehicles that consume fossil fuels. It could be new fees or fines associated with combustion of fossil fuels. I don’t know. I don’t know what ‘swift and decisive action’ is in five years when it’s mandated by a judge.”
Neither do the people who will likely vote in favor of this bill. But, whatever it is, you can count on economic chaos to be the result.