This commentary is by Paul Dame, chair of the Vermont GOP.
Last Friday Gov. Scott made the right call by vetoing H.715. This is the bill that would create a new Mystery Tax on home heating fuels. Advocates for the bill say it’s going to help us transition off of fossil fuels — but the question is what are we supposed to transition to? That’s a mystery. Many of the advocates are quick to point to heat pumps. Anyone can see they are a great source of passive & efficient heating in October and April. But when those Vermont winters get cold enough to freeze your eyelashes shut, or turn boiling water into ice before it hits the ground — heat pumps won’t get the job done. Progressive Democrats are going to punish all of us for not using a home heating source that doesn’t exist yet.
How much are we going to get punished for heating our homes? That’s a mystery. The legislature already gave the authority away to an unelected board that has no limits or restrictions on how expensive they can make the new scheme. But if Senate Pro Temp Balint’s twitter feed is any indication they want to “tax the hell out of” our use of heating fuels.
How much of an impact will the new scheme have on reducing carbon emissions? That’s a mystery. Since we don’t know what the scheme is, and we don’t know how painful it will be for Vermonters, its hard to say how many people will change their behavior based on the higher costs. It would be foolish for many low-income Vermonters to buy a $5,000 heat pump for their $20,000 mobile home, so they can’t afford to reduce their hydrocarbon use. And many middle income Vermonters may not choose to make the big upfront expense because they won’t know if doing so is actually going to reduce the cost of the home heating fuels they need to make it through the winter.
People need good information to make good decisions. The Progressive Democrat Majority has made a bad decision based on next to no information.
House and Senate Republican made the right call by opposing the legislation. Gov. Scott made the right call by supporting them and vetoing this legislation. But now it’s time for every Vermonter to make the right call and contact their legislator to sustain the veto.
The vote is likely going to be first thing tomorrow morning so it is imperative you call today and make sure to get that message to them as soon as possible. Keep it simple.
With the session ending in a few days, and that fact that this bill was so close to overturning, this may be your last chance as a citizen to have an impact on your bill. In a year or two when the board makes their decision to implement the costs you won’t be able to call the statehouse because your legislators already voted their power away.