Roper: Vermont Climate Council is unraveling

By Rob Roper

The mood at recent Vermont Climate Council committee meetings is bleak as the folks tasked by the Legislature to come up with a plan to meet the greenhouse gas reduction mandates of their Global Warming Solutions Act do not have one.

It’s not entirely their fault. The task is and always was politically and logistically impossible. The whole thing has echoes of the Legislature passing a law to deliver a single payer health care system before looking at the details of what it would cost and what it would take. When the public finally saw the price tag, dreams of single payer very quickly evaporated.

Rob Roper is on the Board of Directors of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Now there is a palpable frustration growing between the more idealistic Climate Council committee members who are eager to put forward concrete proposals to meet the mandates and the more politically oriented members who are trying to keep things vague because they know the second those kinds of details come out the public will reject them.

Such an exchange took place at the Aug. 29 Transportation Task Group meeting when Gina Campoli asked about providing an estimate of how much money the state would need to raise for just one program and where the money would come from.

“For example,” said Campoli, “We need X amount of incentives and X amount of charging infrastructure. We’re spending X amount now. Then there’s a gap … to get to the numbers of electric vehicles that are necessary. This would be the easiest calculation. It’s going to require a certain investment on the part of the state both to underwrite the incentives and the cost of the infrastructure. … What’s the gap to get to the numbers we need?”

An easy calculation that any reasonable person would expect to be a top priority for any action plan, and one that shouldn’t take nearly two years and counting to answer. This unwillingness to face fiscal facts is the reason Gov. Scott vetoed the Council’s Clean Heat Standard recommendation.

Jane Lazorchak, the Global Warming Solutions Act Project Director, deflected Campoli’s question, hinting that it’s OK to discuss spending federal money, but not money Vermont will have to raise ourselves. “The kinds of questions you’re diving into, Gina, are like bigger funding issue and where are there gaps and state funding needed, like weatherization is a great example. We’re floating the boat with federal dollars, but there’s going to be a cliff, so how are we going to pay for that long term?”

Yes, how? And how big exactly is that cliff you’ve put us on track to go over?

Campoli offers a rundown, including increasing Vermont’s electric vehicle fleet from 5,000 to 126,000 and weatherizing 90,000 homes, “not to mention bike, ped, and transit, and all that stuff. … There are big long-term needs, ongoing, present, and future. I mean, if we think we can just put $50,000 in here and $100,000 in there and mission accomplished, we’re kidding ourselves. It’s going to be major.”

Major indeed. And new taxes on motor and home heating fuels to cover that number, which what the council is discussing in one form or another, will be major unpopular.

But this “don’t ask for details, don’t tell costs” attitude is clearly unsatisfying to council members who think asking and telling should be a celebrated part of the process. It’s the reason they signed up. Months passing without meaningful debate over substantive ideas led Sebbi Wu, a VPIRG employee who serves as liaison between the Just Transitions Committee and the Transportation Task Group, to ask with visible disillusionment, “Where are the specifics?”

From the other side, the frustration stems from logistical realities. As Lazorchak admits in a moment of candor, “We’ve been circling in on ‘cap and invest”, “cap and reduce’, or a ‘performance standard.’ But we don’t have—well, 1) TCI, which is probably not coming back online in our timeline of joining that in a year…. There’s just this practical nature of like Vermont cannot afford to stand up a performance standard on our own. Administratively it would be impossible. So, there’s also this component of analysis to happen around, like, How are we gonna – I just – I don’t even know. That’s where my head starts to spin. If no other New England state is really looking at this right now, how do we say we’re going to adopt one in 2024? … It’s so hard because we’re really just not capable of doing much on our own.”

So, no revenue, no interested partners, no logistical capability, no ideas, and no public support. Perhaps this is why a number of key legislative-appointee council members are asking not to return when their terms are up next month. These folks are fleeing the sinking ship, but the taxpayers are trapped down in the hold, and we are being set up to waste a “major” amount of taxpayer dollars for “not doing much.”

Rob Roper is on the board of directors for the Ethan Allen Institute. He lives in Stowe.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Ted Eytan

16 thoughts on “Roper: Vermont Climate Council is unraveling

  1. Some excellent comments. In the end it boils down to simply this. Follow the money. See who is funding the research, and you will find the bias steering the results.

    • One place to follow the money is to watch Senate candidate Peter Welch, who is currently on the House Committees for Energy and Commerce, Oversight and Reform, Intelligence, Democratic Steering and Policy. Welch is a Berkley, CA educated lawyer from Massachusetts, who was, yes, a ‘community organizer’ in Chicago, before migrating to Vermont. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Welch has little, if any, private sector experience.

      Also watch one of the most powerful, unelected, administrators in Vermont, Margaret Cheney. She was appointed to the Vermont Public Utility Commission in 2013 by Governor Peter Shumlin, is one of only three people who determine Vermont’s energy policies, and who grew up and was educated in Malaysia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, India, and Peru.

      Ms. Cheney has ‘extensive’ experience in the energy sector (tsk, tsk). She was an editor for Menlo-Atherton Recorder from 1974 to 1977. She then worked for The Washingtonian magazine from 1978 to 1989. Her professional experience includes working as a Spanish teacher for Sharon Academy and a Television Host for CATV White River Junction. She has also been a freelance writer.

      By the way, Ms. Cheney happens to be Peter Welch’s wife. If anyone thinks these ‘Administrative State’ folks have the best interests of free-market oriented Vermonters in mind or are at all qualified to manage Vermont’s energy situation, I suggest they take a tablespoon of intelligence-enhancing snake oil.

  2. This is really the ramblings of the political schizophrenics that we allow a platform to yap on.

    I talked to our local weatherization program here in NH recently.
    We have old housing stock here and so does VT. The houses of the people that need weatherization are often in tough shape because they are owned by people driven into poverty pretty much.
    They estimated that on the conservative side, it’s about 20K that each house needs in weatherization repairs. And that is a drop in the bucket because of todays high labor costs and high materials cost.
    All of these weatherization ‘products’ have a life span, new boilers need maintaining. New boilers only have a 20 year or so lifespan you know. This is not a ‘get it done and it’s done’ situation. It’s an ongoing forever thing. For every house they fix, there is another one falling apart.
    So this airhead makes it’s sound like weatherizing 90,000 homes is no big deal.. well that is in the neighborhood of 20 million dollars- to do just the 90,000… just this one piece of this.

    Listening to these people reminds me very much of listening to kids talking.
    You say to your kids one weekend “what do you want to do today?” and they say “Lets go to Disneyland!!”.
    They have no idea you can’t just get in the car and drive to Disneyland one Saturday afternoon.
    This is just how these people sound.
    Why do we give these thinkers power?

    Climate Change is nothing but a tool being used to further destroy this nation..
    This was admitted in Brussels., that the goal is to destroy Capitalism.
    These followers are like blind sheep being used as tools and the people we elect to stop this insanity are apparently not much brighter- because look at where we are today. People are struggling to come up with the most basic components of the normal lives we once had.

    • Laura,

      90,000 energy hog houses x $20,000/house = $1.8 BILLION

      To heat a house entirely with heat pumps, even on the coldest days, when heat pumps are just very expensive electric heaters, you must have a house that is highly sealed and highly insulated, R40 walls, R8 triple-pane windows and doors, etc., with air-to-air heat recovery system, and an R20 basement, and the house should be arranged for maximum passive solar gain.

      If that is not the case, you will be going to the poorhouse, especially with electric rates increasing IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

      My statements are backed by about 35 years of energy systems analysis experience, plus lots of engineering education

      I have three heat pumps in my house, turnkey cost $24,000, less GMP subsidy of $2,400

      I have the operating cost numbers of the past three years

      • Willem you are right!
        Excuse me for making a mistake on that math. This is what I get for commenting early in the morning before the coffee is in me.
        And there I was blown away at my figure of 20 million, that looks like pocket change now.
        And you know that 20K per house is a low number too..
        A number that will no doubt be much higher every year because of what is now going on with labor and inflation..and supply line issues as well.. so your number is low even.

        I have to laugh at these people just throwing these ideas out there like it’s all no big deal.. each and every layer that is needed to get there is a monumental undertaking and ungodly expensive.
        There are only about 630,000 people in Vermont and many are low income or elderly, or families. How on earth do they think people can absorb the cost of these ideas? Good Grief.

        Here is Steve’s latest article about this Climate Change baloney.
        He makes some very good points too.
        “Zero Emissions: Pretend Locally, emit Globally”

  3. No incentives and mandates and goals are needed, because if Vermonters thought electric vehicles are better than gasoline/diesel vehicles, they would automatically, as if guided by the invisible hand of market forces, towards electric vehicles.

    No government actions would be required. All the bureaucratic angst regarding “zero-carbon transportation” would disappear, not be talked about, the divisive fear-mongering would cease.

    Numerous studies have shown:

    1) EVs are driven only about 8,500 miles/y, and any CO2 reduction compared to gasoline/diesel vehicles, should be based on 8,500 miles/y for both type vehicles.

    2) LIFETIME CO2 of an EV is about the same as for a gasoline/diesel vehicle if calculated are for:

    1) mining materials, to production, to delivery the vehicle to the user, and
    2) based on 8,500 miles/y and 8 years of service, and
    3) disposal of vehicle, including the forever storing of toxic batteries as hazardous waste


    • The principal fuel burned to propel for ICRE vehicles is gasoline. The principal fuel burned to propel EVs is coal. The AGW crowd, opposed to an increase in coal burning, is subsidizing coal burners – when they’re not flying their private jets to exotic locations to raise our energy costs by lowering our standard of living.

  4. This is what happens when you implement laws without visiting the full
    effects and requirements need to make them successful, or running on
    feelings like the left loves to do. Was cost to the citizens figured for switching to EV’s? Was the power grid considered for them to load it up?
    Was the actual cost of using trillions of tons of minerals needed for batteries considered and the environmental/people cost? No the first step they took was to make it a suing offense to not meet a unattainable
    mandate that might save 0.001% more o2 being put in the atmosphere.
    Now they will be remembered for doing that when the suits begin… They should be made liable not the citizens who had no say it such a stupid idea….

  5. Pure scare tactics.
    ABC news headline “Antarctica’s melting ‘Doomsday glacier’ could raise sea levels by 10 feet, scientists say The loss of the Thwaites glacier could destabilize western Antarctica.”
    ByJulia Jacobo
    September 6, 2022, 6:18 PM
    That is about five times great than listed below.
    From Science News Dec 2021
    Thwaites Glacier is “one of the largest, highest glaciers in Antarctica — it’s huge,” Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the Boulder, Colo.–based Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, told reporters. Spanning 120 kilometers across, the glacier is roughly the size of Florida, and were the whole thing to fall into the ocean, it would raise sea levels by 65 centimeters, or more than two feet. Right now, its melting is responsible for about 4 percent of global sea level rise.

  6. Climate? This is not about climate. It is now about changing the United States from a Constitutional Republic to some sort of socialist nirvana which will morph into a final stage of communism, then anarchy.
    The climate evangelicals have succeeded after 50 years of convincing enough people of the dire consequences they perceive. The political elite have jumped on this wagon and now control the direction of climate evangelism to their goals.
    Vermont’s elitists, socialists and carney politicians will continue on with their plan, emulating California until its too late to turn the wagon away from the cliff.
    Don’t think it possible? Remember the debacle that brought us to where we are with healthcare? Education?
    We are a pretty gullible lot, here in Vermont.
    78% Nitrogen
    21% Oxygen
    1% Everything else, of which CO2 is .04%
    Man-made CO2 is but 3.225% of the total .04%.

  7. Thanks, Rob, for this report.

    Has any member on this committee ever asked, “What if everything we want is implemented. How much effect will Vermont have on the total global carbon load?”

    After they bankrupt our middle and lower income Vermonters how much does it realistically impact the world’s climate?

    I think reasonable people know the answer. It would be nice to hear several council members ask the question but good luck with that!


  8. This excellent report from Rob comes from going to the meetings and reporting what happened there. Good for you, Rob! I hope you will apply for a journalism award.

  9. There is no climate emergency.

    Balloon data from around the world shows zero evidence of CO2 warming of the atmosphere, such that the molar density at each level of the atmosphere is disturbed due to CO2 radiative heating– or even water vapor radiative heating, for that matter.

    So now what? So now climate scientists say that CO2 raises the emissions height and then we count down using the lapse rate to get a warmer surface temperature? Use a constantly-changing and un-measurable emissions height, and then use a constantly-changing lapse rate? And this is ‘science’?

    There’s no real-world evidence of atmospheric heating by CO2, period. That’s why they have to use pretend science: there’s a heat wave, so that proves CO2 did it; there are fires, or floods, or droughts, and these things all supposedly ‘prove’ the presence of CO2. Because this is the state of pseudoscience these days, with speculation and assumption and GIGO models substituting for scientific rigor.


    • Satellite data, based on radiation measurements and balloon data, based on direct temperature measurements are very closely correlated.
      These data are objective, not massaged, not fill-in-gaps, i.e., scientific

      They have correlated for 43 years, and trend much lower than the 100 or so computer-generated graphs published by self-serving IPCC, and other “climate science” entities, who aim to get more $$contributions by “aiming high” for scare-mongering purposes

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