Editor’s note: This is a loose transcript of remarks made by Ethan Allen Institute President Rob Roper at the Jan. 9 Anti-Carbon Tax Rally in Montpelier.
It’s kind of chilly today, huh? How many of you feel like paying an extra dollar a gallon for home heating fuel during our long Vermont winters? How many of you drove here today? How would you feel about paying an extra 40 to 90 cents per gallon for gasoline, and more for diesel?
That’s what’s at stake with the carbon tax. It is regressive tax that harms the poor and those who live in rural communities the hardest. It is a terrible policy – period — but particularly bad for a state like Vermont that is rural, struggling with affordability, and, I don’t need to point out, cold! So, why, year after year, do we have to deal with this idiotic policy proposal? Every time dies its inevitable inglorious death this unwanted, economy-killing thing seems to dig its way out of the grave in January like some kind of zombie apocalypse.
Elections have been fought over the issue. Governor Scott has promised to veto it. A promise we all expect him to keep. So, why is this even still an issue?
Here’s one reason. Two employees of SunCommon, the VPIRG for-profit spin-off that feeds on renewable energy subsidies, plus the wife of the company’s president now serve in the Vermont House. Mike McCarthy of St. Albans, Becca White of Hartford, and Kari Dolan, the new House rep from Waitsfield, is the wife of Chach Curtis, President of SunCommon. Revenue from the carbon tax will funnel either directly or indirectly into their coffers. Do you think these folks will be considering their constituents’ best interests when this comes up for a vote?
Now, think about this for a second. This company, SunCommon, of about 100 employees now has more representation in the Vermont House than any single district in the state! More than a 9,000 plus, two-member district like, for example, Williston. More than than the 22 Northeast Kingdom towns represented by Connie Quimby and Paul Lefebvre combined.
Is this what Democracy looks like? I think not! What this is is a special interest, crony socialist attack on the Vermont taxpayer. That is all this is.
Proponents of the carbon tax will say ‘No, this is about climate change and saving the planet.’ No, it’s not. A carbon tax – either statewide, or regionally, or even nationally — will have no impact on the climate whatsoever. That is what the science says.
You can believe whole-heartedly in climate change and mankind’s role in it, but there is no reason – no science – to believe this tax is a solution. What does the science say about what a carbon tax would do to, say, stop the next Tropical Storm Irene? It will do nothing.
And here I want to call out the Vermont press corps. I can’t recall a single time in the past five years that the Vermont press corps has asked advocates of the carbon tax what impact this policy will have on future climate trends. Our press allows these people to say things like “Can you imagine a Vermont without snow? Or without maple syrup, or fall colors? Or that extreme weather events are costing us millions! The implication is that if we pass this carbon tax it will be a solution. This is fraud. If a private company advertised like this it would be sued for fraud. But never, never do our reporters ask these carbon tax zealots what impact – if any – the policies they are advocating for will have on future climate trends or weather events.
Why not? Is it because you don’t want to be the ones who show that this emperor has no clothes? This is journalistic malpractice. Vermonters deserve to know what they are getting – and not getting – for their taxpayer dollars, and it is your job to hold them accountable. Do it.
And for our Vermont legislators, you need to do your job too. The debate over a Vermont carbon tax has been going on since 2013. That’s plenty of time for all sides to make their case. It’s time to put an end to it. Put it to a vote. Both the advocates for this policy and the opponents deserve closure on this. So, put it to a vote. This year. This session. Yes or no.
If the carbon tax is a great idea that will, as the advocates promise, somehow be an economic boon for our state — save the ski resorts, maple syrup and fall foliage, and ensure that Vermont will never suffer another adverse weather event — then why wouldn’t you enthusiastically vote for it. Proudly sign your name on the dotted line in a roll call vote. You’ll be a hero.
But, if in your heart of hearts you know this a job killer that will ultimately hit the poor the hardest, using their tax dollars to subsidize the wealthiest Vermonters who can afford to drive Teslas and install heat pumps, and make Vermont an even more unaffordable, uncompetitive place to live, work, and play, then vote no. Not just no, but hell no. And put this thing to bed.
Put this annoying distraction behind us so that you can concentrate on getting our economy moving in the right direction again: putting our young people to work, fixing our education system that has been mangled by Act 46, the things most of you ran on. Honestly, I didn’t see many your campaign ads last October saying elect me and I’ll pass a carbon tax.
That’s because you know that a carbon tax is bad policy for Vermont. Whether you call it a carbon tax, or carbon pricing, or a carbon dividend, or some other clever name, this is nothing but a stew of bad policy and corrupt politics. Say no. Vote No. And do it now.