Roper: Legislator admits GWSA will have no impact on climate change

By Rob Roper

Responding to an email inquiry from a concerned citizen about the real impact — and cost — of the Global Warming Solutions Act, passed last spring over the veto of Gov. Phil Scott (R), Representative Scott Campbell (D-St. Johnsbury) admitted, “Let me start by repeating that no one, least of all me, believes Vermont can stop climate change — or even affect climate change. It’s tempting to focus on that narrow issue because of the specific metrics in the law, namely the required greenhouse gas reduction thresholds (leaving aside the unfortunate name of the Act),” and, “GWSA will not ‘mitigate’ climate change.”

While we appreciate Campbell’s honesty in answering the question, he’s more than a day late and who knows how many millions of dollars short. More than late — non-existent — it is worth pointing out that no one in the Vermont press corps has ever been willing to ask this very basic question of any of the GWSA’s advocates, perhaps because they knew what the honest answer is: “Vermont can’t stop or even affect climate change.” Propaganda over information!

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Nor did any legislator, Campbell or otherwise, ever do anything to disabuse their constituents of the myth that the Global Warming Solutions Act is actually some sort of solution for Global Warming. The youth groups that stormed the State House in support of the bill surely thought that the “bold action” the GWSA supposedly represented would have some meaningful impact. Would they have been willing to lay down in traffic for a bill that doesn’t do anything to keep the planet from, in their expectation, catching fire in ten years?

Campbell notes “the unfortunate name” of the GWSA, but he sat on the committee that crafted the bill and never attempted to change it to something not entirely misleading. There’s a word for that in the private sector. It’s “fraud.”

Vermonters deserved to know before the bill passed the truth about the total lack of benefit they will be getting in exchange for substantial cash payments (taxes), decreased economic activity, and a loss of living standards due to regulated or banned activities.

Rep. Campbell defends the GWSA, despite its total ineffectiveness at mitigating climate change, because, he says, the real purpose of the law is not to, “’mitigate’ climate change [again, tell that to all those high school students!], but it sets in motion preparing for it, building resilience, and mitigating the effects [emphasis original] of climate change on Vermont’s economy and communities.”

Really! This is kind of funny because those of us who suggested in the past that we can’t do anything to alter the changing climate but should rather focus on adapting to it have been lambasted as cynical “climate deniers.” Glad to see we’ve been right all along!

However, here is where Campbell’s logic loses it’s thread. If reducing CO2 in Vermont will have no mitigating impact on climate change, and the objective of the GWSA is to prepare for floods and other extreme weather events, why is all the focus and the spending on CO2 reduction? Weatherization, moving to renewable energy, etc? Acknowledging as Campbell does that this will have no impact, shouldn’t we be investing in bulldozers, concrete, and steel for sturdier roads and bridges? Shouldn’t we be pursuing more powerful, reliable, predictable and cheaper energy sources? After all, California’s transition to renewable energy left them remarkably un-resilient in the face of this past summer’s extreme weather in which wind and solar couldn’t meet demand for air conditioning, etc. amidst prolonged 110 degree heat. Rolling black and brown outs were the result.

This is what Campbell and his GWSA cohorts are setting us up for in the future: a hugely expensive program that does nothing to stop climate change, undermines our ability to adapt to it, and diverts resources away from real solutions.

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

Image courtesy of Public domain

14 thoughts on “Roper: Legislator admits GWSA will have no impact on climate change

  1. Environmental sciences professor, Jacobsen, at Stamford University, claimed in 2015, almost all US energy, FOR ALL USES, could be supplied by wind and solar.

    The below calculation shows the cost of the battery systems, if the US would have a major wind/solar lull covering 25% of land area.

    BTW, California had a major, widespread, HEAT WAVE and the result was multiple days with rolling BLACK-OUTS, i.e., NO AC.

    Reality Check Regarding Utility-Scale Battery Systems.

    According to weather data, the US has multi-day, wind/solar lulls covering at least 25% of the land area, which occur at random times throughout the year.

    A lull is defined at 15% of normal for that time of year.

    US generators feed about 4000 TWh/y into the US grid, which would become at least 6000 TWh/y, after widespread use of EVs and heat pumps.

    About 1500 TWh/y would be used by 25% of the land area
    Assume, for calculation purposes, the US has 100% of its electricity from wind and solar.

    The shortfall would be about (100 – 15) x 1500 TWh/y = 1275 TWh/y, or about 1275/365 = 3.49 TWh/d

    The capacity of any storage systems would need to be much larger than the discharge, because when a multi-day lull occurs, the system likely would not be fully charged, plus another event may occur.

    Assume battery maximum charge is 16 TWh, DC
    Assume battery partially charge at start of lull is 50%
    Battery available charge is 8 TWh, DC

    Charge required for one-day lull is 4 TWh/d, DC
    Charge remaining for another one-day event is 4 TWh, DC
    Discharge loss, A-to-Z basis is 10%
    Electricity for one-day event, delivered as AC to HV grid is 3.60 TWh, which is ample and allows for battery degradation.

    Battery turnkey unit cost is $500/kWh, AC
    Battery charge available, as AC, is 16 TWh DC x 0.9, discharge loss = 14.4 TWh, AC
    CAPEX, turnkey, would be about $500/kWh, AC x 14.4 TWh, AC = $7.2 TRILLION,
    Battery life is about 15 years

  2. I’m the “concerned citizen” who wrote to Rep. Campbell regarding the GWSA cited in Rob Roper’s commentary.

    I’m pleased that Rob has put a bright light on Rep. Campbell and the absence of critical cost and benefit justification for the GWSA. On the other hand, to my knowledge Campbell is the first and only legislator who has championed GWSA to admit that the law will do nothing to mitigate global warming while also admitting that he nor apparently anyone else can tell us what it will cost…….This is a big deal and I give Campbell credit for having the courage to admit to these two critical flaws in the Act……. However, I’m still at a loss to understand his or anyone else’s rational for supporting a bill with such fundamental shortcomings.

    My initial letter to Campbell was prompted by a VTDigger commentary he wrote and published on 11/30/20 in response to Gov. Scott’s possible court challenge to the GWSA. Campbell pushed the Governor to eschew the court challenge an get on with advancing the GWSA…….He basically told the Governor to charge ahead without knowing what the GWSA would cost or what it would accomplish. So, I wrote to Campbell and specifically asked him two questions: 1. How much will the GWSA mitigate global warming and 2. How much will it cost.

    Campbell promptly and courteously responded confirming that the GWSA would do nothing to mitigate global warming and he couldn’t or wouldn’t say what it would cost. This is the response from a member of the House Technology and Energy Committee that has taken extensive testimony on the GWSA.

    What Campbell revealed is that the GWSA is nothing more than a Trojan Horse designed to benefit special interests while hammering down CO2 levels with no global warming beneficial end all at unknown costs…….Costs that have been put in the billions of dollars by energy experts. Costs that would fall on all Vermonters with no identified or assured benefits.

    The GWSA is an economically irresponsible undertaking that will do nothing to mitigate global warming as admitted by Campbell……It will not perform as sold to Vermonters by our representatives in Montpelier. The Governor is right to challenge it in court and not rush ahead as counselled by Rep. Campbell.

    • Peter,

      In 2015, Energy Action Network estimated the cost of implementing the VT-CEP at about $33 billion, spent during the 2015 -2050 period, about $1 billion/y, not counting financing costs and replacements of short life systems.

      In 2019, EAN made another study to “meet Paris” by 2025.
      It did not include a capital cost, which is peculiar, because it mentioned $700 million in savings.

      It goes beyond my understanding how anyone could claim savings, without a capital cost estimate.

      I decided to perform a capital cost estimate based on EAN assumptions, which led to a capital cost of about $9.5 billion, spent during the 2020 – 2025 period, 5 years, not counting financing costs.

      However, based on realistic assumptions, i.e., doing the analysis on an A-to-Z basis, the capital cost would be about $15 billion, to “meet Paris”, not counting financing costs.

      I do not know, if Rep. Campbell reads comments on TNR.

      If he had, he would have seen my detailed cost estimates numerous times, which are based on about 40 years of experience analyzing energy systems.

      I think there is a deliberate method of operation, which is to tell the Vermont people as little as possible.

      The problem is, people such as I, have many years of experience reading between the lines.

      I am ready, willing and able to reveal, whatever is needed, to forewarn Vermonters of the expensive energy games that are going to be played in Montpelier, because of GWSA.

      ThE PRIOR energy games: 1) have been ineffective, and 2) have led to an INCREASE of Vermont’s CO2, and 3) have contributed to the near-zero, real growth of the Vermont economy, which, in addition, has become further burdened by a fast-growing government, for at least 15 years.

      No wonder the Vermont population is stagnant and getting older, and is sick more often.

      • Willem:

        You have been delivering a detailed and consistent message for years on the massive costs and equally massive technical problems related to solving the global warming issue by using renewable energy expansion as a foundation……..Anyone who is remotely interested in the subject is well aware of your of your message. The problem is that there is more interest in satisfying the special interests (wind & solar industry) demands than in solving the problem.

        Until Montpelier makes the best interest of Vermonters its first priority as opposed to the interests of the special interests, this state will continue on the same path of poor energy policy decisions that started under the Shumlin administration years ago.

        In any major investment endeavor, the focus must be on an objective “Cost-Benefit” analysis. The data you have been providing for years represents a sound basis for such a fundamental analysis …….An analytical foundation that is missing from the GWSA as revealed by Rep. Campbell’s admittance that the Act provides no mitigation of global warming and no defined costs.

        • Peter, Look at the $900 billion COVID aid bill.

          If ALL US workers, 130 million, received $600, that would be $78 billion.
          If they received $1000, that would be $130 billion.

          Where in hades is the OTHER money going?

          It goes to pet projects of Congressmen and of lobbyists

          Congressmen have been promising

          They were aiming to ride in on the COVID bill

          But Trump told them the bill is a disgrace, which is absolutely true, because I have a copy of the bill.

          It includes additional wind and solar subsidies and extensions of deadlines!!

          What the hades does that have to do with COVID?

  3. I’m waiting, but not holding my breath, for Mr. Campbell and our other esteemed legislators who supported this bill, to respond to Rob’s contention that the GWSA “…is a hugely expensive program that does nothing to stop climate change, undermines our ability to adapt to it, and diverts resources away from real solutions.”

    It should be noted that progressive liberal blogs, like that of Climate Change fearmonger, John Walters, censor replies when they challenge their points of view. At least that’s the case with a recent submittal to Walters I made a day or so ago. Of course, everyone who agrees with progressive liberals like Walters and our legislators, have no idea anyone challenges their nonsense – which is likely why they persist in their ignorance.

    Walters, for example, exposed his true progressive liberal colors, when he recently tried to explain away a claim that the Koch Brothers contributed to the Ethan Allen Institute. Whether or not Walter’s contention was correct is beside the point (I certainly don’t know). What is telling, however, is Walters’ characterization of the claim, not as a ‘lie’ but as a ‘mistake’. Progressive liberals, like Mr. Campbell, our legislators, and bloggers like John Walters, apparently, never lie. They just make oodles of mistakes.

    • Update: Kudos to John Walters. He published my comment on his blog. It seems to me then that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for folks with a conservative bent to visit his blog site – – from time to time and express alternate points of view, if for no other reason than to balance the discussion rather than just preaching to the choir here and on TNR. Perhaps the progressive liberal community will begin to see there really are legitimate conservative points of view in Vermont. After all, with 7 Days and VT Digger closing their comment section, Walters’ Vermont Political Observer blog is one of the few progressive liberal sites left that accept commentary.



    California: California has had a GWSA law since 2006, which resulted in:

    – Rapid increases of electric rates and gasoline prices
    – Huge DUCK-curves, due to midday solar electricity surges
    – Unwise/untimely/political/ideological shutdown of gas plants, which resulted in rolling blackouts, when, during a multi-day heat wave, solar disappearing in late-afternoon/early-evening (DURING PEAK HOURS), and not reappearing until mid-morning THE NEXT DAY, while all that time wind was minimal.
    – A host of rules, regulations, taxes, fees and surcharges, and penalties to enforce behavior modification programs

    With high levels of weather-dependent wind and solar, huge storage (multiple TWh) would be required.
    That storage would cost several trillion dollars, if materials could be found to build such capacity. It would need to cover:

    1) Single and multi-day heat waves over large areas
    2) Wind/solar lulls throughout the year, as frequently occur in New England
    3) Short-term and seasonal variations.

    The ADDITIONAL environmental impact on millions of acres with wind and solar systems, would be enormous all over the US.

    It would be much better to build millions of PASSIVHAUS-style buildings all over the US.
    They would need only 1/3 the energy of the current energy hogs.

    Vermont: For Vermont, the only thing that makes any sense is to stop “emulating” California.
    Vermont should immediately scrap GWSA, and concentrate on:

    1) Energy conservation
    2) Energy efficiency
    3) Building net-zero-energy, and energy-surplus houses and other buildings, by the thousands, each year. See Appendix
    4) Provide incentives to buy vehicles that get more than 35 mpg, EPA combined; the more above the limit, the greater the incentive.
    5) Charge annual fees, paid at time of registration, on existing and new vehicles that get less than 25 mpg, EPA combined; the more below the limit, the greater the fee.

    The above 4 items would save money for Vermonters, and make the state economy more competitive
    Most of the other energy measures are just expensively subsidized hogwash and behavior modifications that would not make one iota of difference regarding climate change.


  5. Climate change and all its siblings, such as GWSA, etc., Is a cult with many members. At the head of the cult is the RE industry, it’s proponents and gullible politicos, all of whom are filling their Bank accounts.

  6. The AGW cabal is a fanatic religion whose truths are doctrinal. Reality does not support their predictions. At great expense, the French built the Maginot line because they knew from which direction the invasion would come. An example of reality not conforming to doctrinal expectations. Since prehistory the priests promoting the doctrine (to their own benefit) have been making human sacrifices to control the weather. GWSA is just another iteration. Same result. John Kerry: “Air conditioning is worse than ISIS.” Is his giant yacht air conditioned? His multiple mansions? Does he have standby generators for power failures? Is he a hypocrite? Biden proposes to name John Kerry as his special presidential envoy for climate. This is not a joke.

    • Maginot line?

      The German Army bypassed it by going through neutral Belgium, and then advanced into Paris shortly thereafter.

      GWSA is using “Global Warming Fighting” as a cover.

      The real purpose is to get as much federal and state subsidies as possible to artificially enlarge the Vermont renewable energy sector, at great cost to over-taxed, over-regulated Vermonters.

  7. Hi Bob,

    The law should have been called: “The Vermont Way of Preparing for Climate Change”.

    With that title, people would immediately realize increasing the energy efficiency of vehicles and buildings would be a great measure, because it would reduce annual out-of-pocket energy expenses for Vermonters, plus as a side benefit it would also reduce Vermont’s CO2.

    That would be the smart approach for almost all Vermonters.

    Almost all Vermonters would be in favor of that measure, and it is likely other NE states would follow Vermont’s lead.

    Vermont could have competitions regarding best designs for buildings that use minimal energy for heating, cooling, and electricity.

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