State Headliners: Carbon tax opposed abroad, but embraced by Burlington mayor

By Guy Page

In France last week, low-income Parisians shouting “aux armes” rioted in the streets against a carbon tax increase on gasoline and diesel fuel. In response, the government postponed it. French protesters say carbon taxes hurt the rural poor most of all.

In Germany, the government is saying “nein” to a national carbon tax because German industry and power generators already pay hefty carbon taxes to the European Union.

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Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, and Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont.

In the United Kingdom, Scotland won’t accept an all-UK carbon tax to replace the EU carbon tax that will disappear after the “Brexit” departure from the EU. The descendants of William Wallace demand “Freedom!” to make their own environmental policy.

In Australia, the national carbon tax was repealed in 2014 by popular demand.

In Canada, a national carbon tax will take effect next month. Leaders there see European populist pushback and say hopefully, “it won’t happen here.”

In the deep blue state of Washington last month, voters decisively rejected a statewide carbon tax – for the second time.

But Vermont isn’t like the rest of the world. Because meanwhile, in Vermont:

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announced support for a carbon tax at a climate action conference in Fairlee Dec. 1. Politically speaking, it was a safe move. Burlington will win big in any plan that punishes rural people who live in older homes heated with oil and drive SUVs because they want to get home safely. Burlingtonians drive shorter distances on safer roads, own newer homes heated with natural gas or renewables, and enjoy more access to public transportation. They also earn more money and are far more economically secure. No wonder Chittenden County lawmakers comprise the core of carbon tax support in the Legislature.

Although taxpaying Vermonters are being coerced to use less fossil fuels, energy conservation is still strictly optional for the energy-intensive marijuana industry. The Times-Argus reported Dec. 3 that the Middlesex planning commission approved an 8,000 sq. ft. “medical” marijuana grow for the Vermont Patients’ Alliance. This one building would use an estimated* 67,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month – enough for 118 average Vermont homes, or about 18 percent of all 663 households in Middlesex. Yet in its approval from the planning commission, this energy hog merely “is encouraged to explore energy-saving opportunities with its utility company and Efficiency Vermont.”

Many of the same legislators supporting a carbon tax also support legalization of commercial pot. The electricity needed to create just one joint of marijuana can produce 18 pints of beer, a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures says. No wonder more than half of the new power demand in Colorado is from the marijuana industry. No wonder the marijuana industry is responsible for seven power blackouts in California, the NCSL study says.

Adding insult to injury, many marijuana grows actually run machines that emit CO2 on purpose. CO2 makes the plants grow. High-powered “grow lights,” and strict heating and cooling requirements contribute to the grow’s huge energy load.

And make no mistake, Vermont electricity is still fossil-fuel intensive. We get much of its electricity from the New England grid, which in turn is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. For example, ISO Express real-time reports show that on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 2:35 pm the grid’s electricity fuel sources were 43 percent natural gas and six percent coal.

“The electricity consumption of greenhouses is staggering compared to residential and business use,” the National Conference of State Legislatures study says.

*According to the NCSL study, a 5,000 sq. ft. indoor grow in Boulder, CO uses 42,000 kilowatt-hours per month. Adjusted for size, an 8,000 sq. ft. grow would use 67,000 kilowatt-hours per month.

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.

Image courtesy of Page Communications

12 thoughts on “State Headliners: Carbon tax opposed abroad, but embraced by Burlington mayor

  1. At 3:00 PM Tuesday Dec 11. ISO NE website shows a current load of about 15,500 MW. Our peak load of 18,000 MW is planned for about 6 PM. At that time, they have allowed for a 2209 MW operating (ready) reserve. This is a typical day.

    At this moment wind represents 76 MW of the available mix and solar 21.7 MW. I submit to you that with a 2209 MW of ready reserve over our peak load….It is just plain foolish to waste any money or space on highly intermittent, variable and super high cost wind and solar.

    It is not foolish to spend money on reliable, steady…Biomass, Refuse and Landfill gas generation. At this moment those are providing over 1,100 RENEWABLE MW’s of power that you can count on to be there. Hydro is presently making an additional 1,100 MW of reliable, low cost generation and for some strange reason it is never listed under the renewable mix. I absolutely can not fathom why we would prop up the solar and wind industry by paying practically retail rates for their USELESS power when we could have grid supporting, reliable hydro for 1/3 of the price.

    Battery storage, pumped storage, centrifugal storage…these are ways that you could increase the utility of solar and wind. But why waste our money subsidizing Tesla batteries for those whose solar projects we subsidized to build, and then give sweetheart deals to buy the drop in the bucket of generation that they actually produce at nearly retail prices. It is a bad deal that just gets worse and worse for Vermonters the deeper you invest.

    My answer is NO!…..This does NOT compute! And I t sure as heck does not pass the good ol’ boy “Common Sense O Meter” test!

    2209 MW of “ready” reserve means the USELESS solar and wind are NEVER getting used and I submit to you if we had 97.7 MW less of solar and wind on the grid…we could get away with darn near 97.7 MW less of ready reserve.

    Progressive legislators and our Public Utility Commission don’t want to think about any of this…and you watch…they’ll figure out a way to saddle us with a carbon tax before we’re done too. Meanwhile…every one of them shmoozing for a future, lucrative, industry job for themselves.

    There should be bipartisan rioting in the streets.

    • Do away with the wind and solar boondoggle subsidies and voila,there’s your Lake Champlain and other waterway clean-up money.
      The hardest struggle any of us face in moving the world forward is battling the army of lobbyists,that are working to fill the pockets of merchants of a failed energy alternatives.Carbon taxes are just a source for paycheck money for second string scientists and an army of administrators.

  2. Here is one boondoggle on which carbon tax money would be wasted.

    I looked over the VTrans “Rail from St Albans to Montpelier” study.

    It would be far less costly to improve bus service to all these stations.
    All the roads already exist
    Bus stations could be added to and upgraded over time, as needed.
    Eventually electric buses could be used.
    At present an electric school bus costs $350,000, plus chargers

    Capital cost
    The capital cost would be $300 to $363 million
    No mention is made of amortizing the capital cost.
    At 5%/y and 40 years, it would completely swamp the project.

    Federal funds
    In 2016 585 requests for commuter rail were submitted to the Feds, 40 were approved
    That does not mean all 40 would be built.
    Fed money could be up to 50%, the rest from other sources

    Operating cost
    The operating cost would be:
    25% from Fares: $1,172,000 for 12 trips per day, 2,393,000 for 22 trips per day
    75% from Non fares sources, i.e., operating subsidy, $3,782,000 and $6,507,000
    Total operating $4.9 million and $8.9 million

    High 9174
    Low 8664

    Operating cost per person 4.9/9174 = $534/y, or 8.0/9174 = $970/y, i.e., off the charts. Excludes amortizing the capital

  3. Carbon Tax Impact On A Typical Vermont Family, as reported on VTDigger:

    Any tax, including a carbon tax, passing through the hands of government suffers from “the sticky fingers syndrome”, 2 dollars go in about 1.5 dollars come out. The difference stays to feed the growing government bureaucracy.

    The key word missing in most discussions is UNILATERAL. VT’s government imposing on Vermonters a unilateral carbon tax is like shooting them in the feet.

    If the carbon tax were nationwide, I would support it.

    The carbon tax would:

    – Impose a $10/ton tax of carbon emitted in 2017, increasing to $100/ton in 2027.
    – Generate about $100 million in state revenue in 2019, about $520 million in 2027.
    – Be added to the fuel prices at gas stations and fuel oil/propane dealers.
    – Drivers should expect a tax increase of 9 c/gal of gasoline in 2018, increasing to about 89 cents in 2027.
    – Homeowners, schools, hospitals, businesses, etc., should expect a tax increase of 58 c/gal of propane and $1.02/gal of heating oil and diesel fuel in 2027.
    – A typical household (two wage earners, two cars, in a free-standing house) would pay additional taxes in 2027 of about:
    – Some of the carbon tax extortion would be at the pump, some when the monthly fuel bills arrive, and some as higher prices of OTHER goods and services.

    Driving = $0.89/gal x 2 x 12000 miles/y x 1/(30 miles/gal) = $712/y
    Heating = $1.02/gal x 800 gal/y = $816/y
    Total carbon tax in 2027 = $1528/y
    Sales tax reduction 5/6 x 1400 = $233/y
    Net tax increase = $1295/y

    – The hypocritical sop of reducing the sales tax from 6 to 5 percent would save that household about $233 in sales taxes, for a net loss of $1295 in 2027. That means such households, the backbone of the Vermont economy, would have about $1300/y less to make ends meet.
    – Many of these households have had stagnant or declining, spendable real incomes (after taxes, fees, surcharges; other recurring expenses, etc.), plus dealing with a near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy, since 2000.
    – With less real income, and higher real prices for goods and services, they also would have to make their own energy efficiency improvements.

  4. Vermont’s Economic Development Policy: Left-leaning Democrat politicians have adopted an unwritten “economic development policy”: Maximize the schlepping of federal funds into Vermont to start/subsidize government programs, and start/subsidize government/business partnerships, which, as a side benefit, create a spectrum of subsidy-dependent constituencies, that produce reliable votes year after year. These programs and partnerships usually pay too little in state and local taxes to more than offset their subsidies, i.e., they do not provide a significant net gain. Annual government budget deficits are offset by means of annual increases of taxes, fees and surcharges imposed on the near-zero, real growth private sector, The “policy” has failed to create a vibrant, growing private sector, with prosperous households and businesses, since 2000.

    If the carbon tax bill were enacted, special interests, seeing this large source of funds, would pile on it, and grab as much of it as possible, as happened with the ARRA funds a few years ago. The Vermont approach would be complicated and lead to more bureaucracy and rules and regulations. It would definitely not be hands-off.

    For Vermont to impose a unilateral carbon tax would make its economy less competitive versus other states, i.e., more brain drain, and fewer good-paying, steady, full-time jobs, with good benefits in the private sector. The carbon tax would be another headwind for the near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy.

    The carbon tax would further aggrandize Vermont’s government, which is too large, too inefficient, spending too much money, is bloated with programs, and is running annual deficits, that are offset with annual increases of taxes, fees and surcharges, as if money grows on trees.

    The carbon tax would transfer up to $520 million per year, less sales tax reductions, into incompetent, inefficient government hands for “disbursements”; EB-5, Health care website, Montpelier Heating Plant, etc. come to mind.

  5. The carbon tax will be a death sentence to the already fragile economy. We already pay as much as 90c a gallon more for gasoline then many other states. Due to our location & lack of manufacturing we already pay more to get goods shipped into Vermont. This will increase the costs of pretty much everything we buy.

    Clueless liberal idiots like Miro Wineberger live in a fantasy land and fail to acknowledge what goes on in the real world. They have done a great job in discouraging industry from bringing good paying jobs to Vt. As well as concocting SCAMS like the carbon tax to drive what little industry we have out..

    Why does a state with only 600k residents, the least amount of industry, the most open “green space” and the smallest carbon footprint need the “carbon tax”??

    It doesn’t. This scam is nothing but a money grab to fund a bunch of other “feel good” programs that’ll ultimately line the pockets of those already raking in $$$$ with
    So called “eco friendly” businesses
    Like Blittersforf with his windmills & it’ll help fund his ghost trains to no where..

    Anyone with any common sense (not a liberal) knows that in the history of taxation that adding a tax has NEVER replaced another tax.. this added revenue will disappear faster than free beer at a Phish concert..

    We Vermonters have been the poster child for senseless “good for all” experiments all too often.

    Just look at the heslth insurance
    We now have a “monopoly” in the health insurance industry that’s forcing us to pay up to 35% more for health insurance than other states with numerous carriers.,

    Another “know it all” idea by liberals with NO commonsense..

  6. Perhaps the highly educated folks that lean towards the Global Marist Scam known as climate change may want to take notice of a Marist success aka France,it could happen anywhere,even if it’s just pitchforks and torches.

    U.N. Official Reveals Real Reason Behind Warming Scare


    Economic Systems: The alarmists keep telling us their concern about global warming is all about man’s stewardship of the environment. But we know that’s not true. A United Nations official has now confirmed this.

    At a news conference last week in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism.

    “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

    Referring to a new international treaty environmentalists hope will be adopted at the Paris climate change conference later this year, she added: “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”

    The only economic model in the last 150 years that has ever worked at all is capitalism. The evidence is prima facie: From a feudal order that lasted a thousand years, produced zero growth and kept workdays long and lifespans short, the countries that have embraced free-market capitalism have enjoyed a system in which output has increased 70-fold, work days have been halved and lifespans doubled.

    Figueres is perhaps the perfect person for the job of transforming “the economic development model” because she’s really never seen it work. “If you look at Ms. Figueres’ Wikipedia page,” notes Cato economist Dan Mitchell: Making the world look at their right hand while they choke developed economies with their left.

    • J McCandles Thanks for that astonishingly candid quote straight from the horse’s mouth about what’s really up with “climate change”. The United States should withdraw from the United Nations.

  7. AGW is a religion. It uses, as is characteristic of many religions, threats of the consequences of heresy and apostasy to keep the faithful in line – and justify extracting a hefty percentage of the profits from their personal enterprises. The correlation between atmospheric carbon and global temperature is seventeen percent, i.e. they move about the same amount in the same direction about seventeen percent of the time. Insofar as random chance would produce some correlation, that’s not a significant indicator of causality to justify the ongoing idiocy by the AGW fanatics. The correlation between sunspot activity and global temperature is ninety seven percent, but they haven’t figured out a way to use that to justify increasing taxes and imposing regulations.

  8. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announced support for a carbon tax at a climate action
    conference in Fairlee Dec. 1. Politically speaking, it was a safe move, he forgot to mention
    foolish move for tax payers !!

    What else would a Liberal DemocRAT say, this ” Boondoogle ” has been there talking point
    from day one………Miro’s Hero Bernie is running around the US in a rented Jet , sounds like
    hypocrisy to me !!

    Hey Miro, how’s the Big Dig doing in Downtown Burlington ?, that should be you major concern
    as this looks like another Liberal ” Boondoogle ” project !!

    Miro, Burlington’s puppet Mayor ……. what a shame !

  9. What do you expect from Miro. He’s a typical liberal who knows what’s best for everyone. If he lived in Canaan or Wolcott or 30 miles outside of the Burlington area, he would probably think different.
    He’s just one of the reasons that this State is going down the tubes. Their progressive agenda is all that matters.

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