Roper: There’s nothing ‘responsible’ about supporting a carbon tax

By Rob Roper

VPR covered a two-hour meeting hosted by Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, in which the public policy director for the group, Dan Barlow, proclaimed, “VBSR is especially interested right now in how we can price carbon in a way that will grow our economy.”

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

So, if you see a “VBSR member” sticker on the window of a local business, make sure to ask the proprietor why he or she supports a tax that will raise gasoline, home heating fuel, etc., on hard-working Vermonters by roughly a dollar a gallon.

First, there is nothing “responsible” about supporting a carbon tax. There’s nothing economically advantageous to swapping a cheaper, more reliable source of energy that can exist on its own merits for ones that are more expensive, less reliable, and would not exist were it not for government mandates and subsidies. Doing so is not responsible — it’s idiotic.

Barlow cites the fact that Vermont has a growing “clean energy sector” such as solar and efficiency. Well, if you pour tax money into any sector you’re going to see jobs. If we took all the subsidies and mandates away from “clean energy” and applied them to paying people to do jumping jacks in the middle of corn fields, we’d have just as many jumping jackers as we do clean energy jobs. What’s harder to see are the jobs lost in the sectors of the economy from which the subsidy monies are confiscated.

Vermont does not need more jobs that require taxpayer dollars to stay afloat. We need more jobs that can support themselves and generate tax revenue. That is, jobs that provide products and services that have an intrinsic value to their customers and can exist organically, without government forcing them to purchase (and/or not purchase) something. If wind and solar can survive and thrive under those conditions, great! We wish them every success.

The logic of carbon tax Supporters gets even more convoluted.

Johanna Miller, the energy program director at Vermont Natural Resources Council, which also co-sponsored the event, says, “We can put more money in Vermonters’ pockets by starting to gradually get off of fossil fuels, and that simultaneously does take us significant steps forward in terms of addressing climate change.”

Face palm.

You cannot simultaneously tax people and put more money in their pockets. The way the carbon tax proposal would work is the state would collect 100 percent of the tax (roughly half a billion dollars when fully implemented) and then “return” 90 percent — less the bureaucratic costs of collecting the tax — in the form of tax cuts, rebates and various welfare programs. What Miller, Barlow and their organizations are trying to sell Vermonters is the notion that by taking $10 from you and giving you back $9, they are somehow putting “money in Vermonters’ pockets.” It’s insulting.

You can tax people and put more money into the pockets of some people. Not for nothing, David Blittersdorf of All Earth Renewables, a past and likely future recipient of renewable energy subsidies, is on the board of directors of VBSR. (So, not shocking that they’re making this a priority.)

And, as for the statement that passing a carbon tax would “take us significant steps forward in terms of addressing climate change,” this is complete nonsense. There is no evidence that Vermont passing a carbon tax will in any way — either significant or microscopically useless — have any impact on global climate trends. At all. Ever. To imply that it will is a flat out lie.

This whole thing would be comical if not for the fact that VBSR and VNRC are two large, well funded organizations with significant membership and political pull in the Statehouse. 2018 is going to be a busy year.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Flickr/

13 thoughts on “Roper: There’s nothing ‘responsible’ about supporting a carbon tax

  1. “Taxes are not for the benefit of the taxed.” ~ Robert A. Heinlein nly liberal idiots believe they are.

    • This computer doesn’t type any better than I do. That should read, Only liberal idiots believe they are.

  2. British Columbia, Canada, Carbon Tax: Proponents of the carbon tax point to it being a success in British Columbia, Canada. BC’s levy started at $9 per metric ton in 2008, and gradually increased to $27 per metric ton in 2012, or about 23 c/gallon; much less than Vermont. I would be in favor of the BC carbon tax, but only if it were 1) NOT used for government programs, 2) FULLY reimbursed AND 3) adopted all over the US.

    BCs carbon tax was initially CLAIMED to be 100% reimbursed by means of reductions in personal and business income tax rates. However, that turned out NOT TO BE TRUE. The reimbursements were restricted bit by bit, to finance various government programs.

  3. Carbon Tax Impact On A Typical Vermont Family, as reported on VTDigger:

    – The carbon tax would impose a $10 per ton tax of carbon emitted in 2017, increasing to $100 per ton in 2027.
    – The carbon tax would generate about $100 million in state revenue in 2019 and about $520 million in 2027.
    – The carbon tax would be added to the fuel prices at gas stations and fuel oil/propane dealers. Drivers should expect a tax increase of 9-cent per gallon of gasoline in 2017, increasing to about 89 cents in 2027.
    – Homeowners, schools, hospitals, businesses, etc., should expect a tax increase of 58-cent tax per gallon of propane and $1.02 per gallon of heating oil and diesel fuel in 2027.
    – A typical household (two wage earners, two cars, in a free-standing house) would pay additional taxes in 2027 of about:
    – Some of the carbon tax extortion would be at the pump, some when the monthly fuel bills arrive, and some as higher prices of OTHER goods and services.

    Driving = $0.89/gal x 2 x 12000 miles/y x 1/(30 miles/gal) = $712/y
    Heating = $1.02/gal x 800 gal/y = $816/y
    Total carbon tax in 2027 = $1528/y
    Sales tax reduction 5/6 x 1400 = $233/y
    Net tax increase = $1295/y

    – The hypocritical sop of reducing the sales tax from 6 to 5 percent would save that household about $233 in sales taxes, for a net loss of $1295 in 2027. That means such households, the backbone of the Vermont economy, would have about $1300/y less to make ends meet.
    – Many of these households have had stagnant or declining, spendable real incomes (after taxes, fees, surcharges; other recurring expenses, etc.), plus dealing with a near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy, since 2000.
    – With less real income, and higher real prices for goods and services, they also would have to make their own energy efficiency improvements.

  4. Johanna Miller ~ Face palm ~ add a dollar to each gallon of any carbon base fuel.
    There might be a few umm …. dairy people, who might just be willing to turn that face palm into a Panini Press. With the current assault by future governors of VT attempting to declare all out war on dairy to save Lake Champlain …. well, then there’s Act 46. – We consolidate the schools and buss the kids. Let’s us not even begin to considered the cost of that bill to the ‘taxpayers’. The cost to run hospitals, schools, the increased cost to state and municipal road crews …. yes, the added cost to plow roads and bail hay and plow fields. The state of Vermont is held hostage to tractor trailers and their deliveries as we consider a three-day food supply. With the loss of revenue from fuel taxes buy people filling up before they ever cross our border, the next ‘phase of thinking’ will be a toll booth at every road entering into Vermont. Yet this obtuse thinking, much of it via the ‘new Vermonters’ – is only in the starting stages. Between the likes of the Millers and 70% of the legislature the exodus of this once fine state has begun – sadly by design!

  5. This piece is dead on….and should be obvious (very disappointing that this has to be written). As Thomas Sowell put it (paraphrasing): Politics is the oldest con game on the books; take away people’s money quietly. Give back some of it flamboyantly.

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