By Guy Page
The outcry about automated annual car inspections has been so loud that House Transportation Committee sought this week to give car owners merciful relief from the unfeeling, all-seeing eye of the inspection station computer.
And it succeeded — sort of, a committee member said this week.
The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles had announced that, under federal Clean Air Act guidelines, any computer-revealed problem — no matter how obscure or non-safety-related — would require complete repair before the much sought-after sticker could be slapped on the windshield. Gone was the common sense leeway of the human inspector. Vermonters facing huge repair bills to solve unimportant problems objected.
So this week, Transportation pondered the problem and took action: DMV will be directed to allow work on safety related-issues costing $200 or more to be postponed for up to a year. The new, more owner-friendly regulations should take effect in March.
More challenging will be solving the problem of getting electric cars to pay their share for highway repair, now paid through the state gasoline tax. Vermonters like this Shelburne Headliners reader object that electric cars are getting a free ride:
First people who buy electric/low gas usage cars, receive a tax rebate or car manufacturers do. These same people stop paying gas taxes. So already taxpayers are supporting cars driven by people who have opted out of their contribution to taxes. Plus they had help from taxpayers to reduce the cost of their non-gas or low gas powered cars. Should not these people be required to make up that difference? And also how fair is it that parking lots have electric stations so they can fuel up? I suppose these electric fuel-up stations are supported by taxes too.
House Transportation will discuss possible solutions — including utilities charging EV customers at the charging station and turning revenue over to the state — but probably won’t act this year, in part because legislative leadership thinks the process needs more time, committee member Rep. Mike McCarthy, D-St. Albans, said.
One final note on House Transportation: Bike-riding Chair Curt McCormack, D-Burlington, said new revenue from this week’s budget adjustment will be allocated to highway repair.
And speaking of carbon solutions, the authors of the $120,000 taxpayer funded decarbonization report released Tuesday committed a major blunder. The written report said reduced emissions could save prevent mortality/sickness losses in 2025 of up to $39 billion — with a B. In their presentation to lawmakers, they said savings were in the millions, not billions.
Both report and presentation left observers on both sides of the carbon tax underwhelmed. Both a fossil fuel lobbyist and a progressive pro-carbon tax legislator called it “superficial.”
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.