By Rob Roper
In a recent interview with VPR, Rep. Tim Briglin, D-Norwich, who chairs the House Energy and Technology Committee, admitted that the state has no strategy for reducing carbon emissions. “Right now, we are kind of throwing spaghetti against the wall: A little energy efficiency measure here, some electric vehicle incentives here.” But, those “little” bits of non-strategic pasta add up to as much as $200 million in taxpayer spending. Every year.
For a little state with about 320,000 taxpayers, that is a ton of money.
This is twice as much as we spend annually repairing our roads (about $100 million). It’s four times as much we spend protecting and cleaning our waterways (about $50 million). It’s eight times as much as we spend to support our state colleges (about $25 million). It’s roughly equal to our annual public pension liability, which is considered to be in crisis.
It’s more money than we generate through the entire rooms & meals tax ($175 million), and about half of all we generate through the sales & use tax (around $400 million).
In an update to his constituents, Sen. Corey Parent, R-Franklin, broke down the numbers follows: “We spend about $79 million in efficiency investments, most of which are directed to electrical efficiency from Efficiency Vermont and other Efficiency Utilities. We spend about $74 million in what I would categories as energy transformation and $4 million on electric vehicle and electric vehicle infrastructure incentives.”
Parent cites another $80 million for “public transit and commuter-friendly infrastructure in the Agency of Transportation.”
And for this $200 million spent annually on trying to prevent climate change, we haven’t achieved much in terms of results. Our statewide CO2 output is about the same as it was in 2007, and our impact on global climate trends is and always will be nil.
So here is a question for Vermonters: do we want to continue throwing this vast amount of public resources (and potentially a lot more if things like the Transportation Climate Initiative, the Global Warming Solutions Act, the Green New Deal for Vermont, and Act 250 reforms currently under discussion become law) on an entirely symbolic gesture of virtue signaling that achieves zero measurable results? Or would those dollars better be used somewhere where they could actually make a difference in improving our citizens’ lives?