By Don Keelan
At what point does the far left stop using our children in elementary and high schools to promote its agenda? The foremost user is the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.
In a recent email, VPIRG declared, “TAKE ACTION: Call House Speaker Mitzi Johnson TODAY … to let her know you support the youth Climate Strike and want to see bold climate legislation rise to the top of the agenda.”
Never mind the fact that the Legislature should be wrestling with some difficult issues — an opiate epidemic, the closing of private colleges, a major decline in our state’s workforce, healthcare, education and pension issues.
VPIRG’s latest use of the “youth brigade” was to have the brigade call attention to the curse imposed upon Vermont by plastic bags. School children appeared before town meetings to state their case requesting towns to adopt an ordinance to prohibit stores from supplying plastic bags.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end with the plastic bag scare. On March 15, Montpelier witnessed several hundred children cut class in order to be part of the march to combat climate change. To read VPIRG’s version, there were “some protesting in their towns and some storming the Capitol in Montpelier.” Storming? Really?
There will be more in climate regulations from VPIRG. Before there is an outright condemnation for using a gas engine, there will be a confiscatory tax added to the price of a gallon of gas — possibly a dollar or more. And, once a year, the vehicle owner will be given a computer print-out euphemistically referred to as an annual automobile safety inspection.
I predict that within three years, a home heated with oil or propane will face stringent rules. Here are a few examples: all homes will be monitored to see if the heat temperature being called for is reasonable and not excessive, and any repairs to the heating system will only be done once a permit is issued by the state. The homeowner must provide a carbon offset or pay a fee into the Carbon Offset Bank (quite similar to what developers pay into the Land Bank for encroaching on Prime Agricultural Lands). An excise tax will surely be assessed here as well.
It will only get worse. When it comes to having to replace a home oil heating system, a detailed mitigation plan must be filed with the state to determine if non-fossil-fuel systems were considered. If not, the excise tax on the replacement with an oil-based system will be equal to 10 percent of the cost of the replacement.
It there are any readers wondering if this could happen, just look at how a home or business owner is treated by the state when it comes to replacing and or repairing their septic system. It is no longer a local matter, but under the jurisdiction of Montpelier.
Yes, the world is experiencing some form of climate change and it should be addressed. But for Vermont to attempt to be at the forefront and impose costly and stringent regulations on its citizens is ludicrous. With the state being 80 percent forest, we are, in fact, a carbon neutral state.
The state’s carbon footprint surely must be improving each day. The Manchester Journal recently noted that each year more people are dying in Vermont than are born. Furthermore, between 2010 and 2018, a net 10,000-plus residents have left the state. Now add to this the fact that, in recent months, three private colleges have closed, with possibly more to come. This must surely help with the carbon footprint issue. Instead, let’s focus on plastic bags.
VPIRG should not use our children to advance their message on carbon issues. Will the nonprofit organization use them to lobby the legislature to place a quota on the number of tourists entering the state? Surely the millions that do come each year have a mammoth carbon footprint.
Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.