Roper: Robbing the transportation fund to pay for ‘green’ priorities

By Rob Roper

There is a bill currently before the House Transportation Committee — “an act relating to transportation initiatives to reduce carbon emissions (H.94) — that any Vermonter who has routinely experienced a miles-long, tooth-rattling ride over pot holes and frost heaves should be concerned about.

The purpose of the bill is to “appropriate money” for a number of climate-change-related programs, such as electric vehicle charging stations and subsidies for electric vehicle purchases, “no-charge” public transportation, electric bicycles, and the like. From where does this bill propose to get this money? From the transportation fund that should be used for road and bridge repair and maintenance. Here are some line items from the bill:

  • $4,000,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund for Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Incentive Program.
  • $600,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund to support the MileageSmart program, which provides up to $5,000 subsidies for the purchase of high mpg cars.
  • $1,000,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund for the Replace Your Ride Program, which provides $3,000 incentive subsides for people buying new cars.
  • $50,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund electric bicycles.
  • $500,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund for EV charging stations.
  • $2,700,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund to subsidize “fare-free” public Transportation.
  • $1,200,000 is appropriated from the transportation fund for MTI Grant Fund to reduce use of single occupancy vehicles.
  • And, an undefined amount for “compensation shall be provided to members of the Public Transit Advisory Council,” whatever that is.

All for a total of just under $10 million. And this bill has 71 sponsors. It needs 76 “yea” votes to pass the House.

It should be noted that an informal review of climate change policies revealed that Vermonters already spend between $200 and $250 million on these kinds of programs — roughly 25% of all the revenue raised through the personal income tax, just to put it in perspective.

So the next time you’re bouncing along Vermont’s highways and byways racing to make an appointment to have your wheels realigned, remember, your suffering and added expense are going for a good cause. Some dude in Burlington got $5,000 off his new Prius thanks to you.

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

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Olga Ernst

8 thoughts on “Roper: Robbing the transportation fund to pay for ‘green’ priorities

  1. Subsidizing EVs and electric transit and school buses is throwing good money into a black hole.

    Governor and Senators Seeking More Electric Vehicles with COVID Money

    “Investing in more energy-efficient public transportation is important for our economy and environment,” the governor said. He added that the money is enabling the transportation agency to replace as many as 30 buses and fund energy-efficient projects.”

    The Vermont House Energy/Environment Committee and the VT Transportation Department echo the same message, to “convince” legislators, people in the Governor’s Office, etc., to buy expensive electric buses to deal with a minor pollution problem in a few urban areas in Vermont. Such an electric vehicle measure would be much more appropriate in the over-crowded Boston Area and the Connecticut Gold Coast.

    They urge to buy electric buses at about:

    $750,000 – $1,000,000 per mass-transit bus, plus high-speed charging systems; a standard diesel mass-transit bus costs $380,000 – $420,000
    $330,000 – $375,000, per school bus, plus high-speed charging systems; a standard diesel/gasoline school bus costs about $100,000

    They are throwing COVID money, meant for suffering people and businesses, into another climate-fighting black hole.
    Vermont has cold winters, and hills, and snow-covered roads, and dirt roads in rural areas; kWh/mile would be high.
    Those buses would need 4-wheel-drive, or all-wheel-drive.

    Vermont Has Much Better Options Than Electric Buses

    1) A state-wide building code, which would require new buildings to be highly sealed, highly insulated so they could easily be energy-surplus buildings, or be entirely off-the -grid. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, etc., have had such codes for at least a decade.

    2) A gas-guzzler vehicle code, which would impose a fee on 40-mpg vehicles. The more below 40-mpg, the higher the fee. Any vehicles with greater than 40-mpg, such as the 54-mpg Toyota Prius, would be exempt. No chargers would be required.

    • Thank you Willem! This is sooo today’s Vermont, sadly. States across the country, including Vermont cannot, with their existing funding, keep up with the Maintenance of their road and bridges infrastructure. To siphon a huge chunk to build the climate change pipe dream is ridiculous! But, as I said, welcome to Vermont! The Progs simply DO NOT CARE.

    • A gas guzzler tax is already in place. It’s the tax on gasoline. Why would you want to compound the amount a person pays who can’t afford a high mpg vehicle or a vehicle that won’t meet their needs?

      • Lester,
        “You have to break their will” RE zealots would have everyone driving UNAFFORDABLE EVS, that would not reduce much CO2 compared with EFFICIENT gasoline vehicles.

        On a lifetime, A-to-Z basis, the:

        NISSAN Leaf S Plus, hybrid (not a plug-in), compact SUV, no AWD, would have 25.967 metric ton of CO2 over 10 years.

        TOYOTA Prius L Eco, 62 mpg, compact car, no AWD, would have 26,490 Mt over 10y

        SUBARU Outback, 30 mpg, medium SUV, with AWD, would have 43.015 Mt over 10y

        VT Light Duty Vehicle mix, 22.7 mpg, many with AWD or 4WD, would have 56,315 Mt over 10y

        If that average would become 40 mpg (by means of carrots and sticks), CO2 would become about 22.7/40 x 56.315 = 32 Mt over 10y, which is not that much more than a Prius L Eco

        “You have to break their will” RE zealots want to “Electrify Everything”, but that is an easily uttered slogan

        It would require:

        – Additional electricity generation plants, such as nuclear, wind, solar, and hydro
        – Additional grid augmentation/expansion to carry increased loads for future EVs and heat pumps
        – Additional battery systems to store the midday solar electricity surges for later use, aka, DUCK-curve management.
        – Major command/control-orchestrating to avoid overloading distribution and high voltage electric grids regarding:

        1) Charging times and duration of EVs and heat pumps
        2) Operating times of major appliances
        3) Control of electricity demands of commercial/industrial businesses

        • Correction.

          NISSAN Leaf S Plus, hybrid (not a plug-in), compact SUV, no AWD, would have 25.967 metric ton of CO2 over 10 years.

          Should read:

          NISSAN Leaf S Plus, EV, compact SUV, no AWD, would have 25.967 metric ton of CO2 over 10 years.

    • First, I object to the state and other gov’t’s paying double for necessary vehicles

      I am remembering the ultra strict emmision limits we have already paid for, which at least have had a great effect on the smog capital, Los Angelos.. New perfect combustion Cars gasoline and diesel trucks have cleaned that smog hole!

      For me to have to be required to buy a Tesla, so Expensive that you have to pay for my car, BUT then I have to pay for yours.
      No one wins, it is just plain “smoke and mirrors!” It is always presumed that the electric production is magically, always, more than enough – think Burlington’s idiotic Zero Fossil Fuels allowed for anything.

      Wait a minute, THIS IS Smoke and Mirrors, all while Texas experiences a freeze out from total failure of their Pure and Perfect Solar and Wind electric grid.

      It’s all right for “them” to be out of their mind! Are you out of yours????

      • Show me the all electric town or highway truck, able to carry a heaping load of gravel, salt while plowing snow up my hill, and all day?
        The freezing winter interior of the electric city bus for your Mother?
        Or the Semi tractor which can drive all day, 24 hours with driver change, cross country to bring us our 50,000 pounds of fresh fruit. Show me the all, and only, electric freight train.

        And show me the mines all these magic minerals must come from?

  2. Rob,
    Thanks for the heads up. This is an incredibly bad use of transportation funds at a time when many our roads and bridges are in poor shape. Have you let Republican legislators and Selectboards know about this. I imagine some of the funds will come from what is provided for local roads.

    Two years ago while serving on the Strafford Selectboard, I helped organize an effort to oppose cuts in the Transportation Fund for local towns. Working with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns over 50 officials from around the State testified before a joint House/Senate Committee and were able to reverse the cuts but not get the additional funding we felt was needed.

    This “robbing Peter to pay Paul” type of thing reminds me of how we got into the Pension Fund problem. As I recall the money saved by not making needed payments to the pension funds was used to start the Dr. Dinosaur program. The legislature if it is going to fund new programs should be upfront with how they will pay for them and not short other critical needs in the process.

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