McClaughry: Transportation Climate Initiative and the poor

By John McClaughry

Over the years I have frequently sparred with John Greenberg, a stalwart of the campaign to shut down Vermont Yankee. He is a worthy opponent who does his homework and avoids the usual insults emanating from the climate warrior crowd.

I was thus gratified to read in his comment to a VTDigger story that he finds a fatal flaw in the latest carbon tax scheme, the Transportation Climate Initiative, that I wrote about last January.

Writes Greenberg: “Unlike every carbon tax proposed in Vermont so far, [the TCI] effectively constitutes a regressive tax. Assuming that the proceeds from the auctions would be invested in initiatives to reduce emissions in Vermont, this proposal does nothing specifically to restore the funds taken from poor people.”

He continues, “It’s well and good to suggest that greater access to electric vehicles, public transportation, and the like will benefit the poor, but it’s hardly the same thing as putting money back in their pockets. Thus, as proposed, the State would be taking money away from low-income folks, while returning nothing to them.”

Greenberg however endorses the TCI if the tax dollars are given to the poor to offset their higher motor fuel costs instead of to the renewable industrial complex. I don’t.

He also thinks there won’t be any cross border effect (people buying motor fuel across a state line to escape the TCI tax) because 12 Northeastern states will participate. But one state won’t, and it has a 200 mile long border with Vermont.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Infrogmation