By Rob Roper
Gov. Phil Scott recently signed onto a letter with other New England governors to the U.S. Congress asking for increased funding to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Here’s the logic the governors offered:
Keeping warm and safe is particularly challenging for low-income households in New England, which has some of the country’s oldest homes and a particularly cold winter climate. More than any other region of the country, New England households are dependent upon expensive delivered fuels. For many low-income households, there are few and limited near-term options and while we are all working diligently on assisting these families with energy efficiency programs for the longer term, the immediate needs this winter are likely to be acute. New England governors deeply appreciate your longstanding support of LIHEAP, and we recognize the difficult fiscal decisions confronting Congress this year. However, with the dramatic rise in energy prices and the additional increase anticipated this winter, we ask that you supplement the annual appropriation to mitigate the effect on our vulnerable populations. (Sept. 26, 2022 letter)
Here’s the irony: This comes as Vermont legislators recently attempted to add a “Clean Heat Standard” carbon tax (H.715) on those very same home heating fuels (oil, propane, natural gas, and kerosene), with the intention of driving up the cost, forcing customers to change to electric options. It’s hard for a state government to argue for taxpayer money to subsidize the high cost of something they’re simultaneously trying to price consumers out of the market.
To Scott’s credit, he vetoed the Home Heating Carbon Tax, and his veto was thankfully sustained — by a single vote in the House. This election has consequences.
So, here’s a modest proposal to Gov. Scott: How about signing a similar open letter to every candidate running for State House and Senate asking them to pledge opposition to the Home Heating Carbon Tax that the Vermont Climate Council is recommending — again — that the new legislature may vote for following the November election, because see quoted paragraph above.
Rob Roper is on the board of directors for the Ethan Allen Institute. He lives in Stowe.