TCI is still alive — at least in the House Transportation Committee

MONTPELIER — Although numerous Northeast governors have either backed out of or made statements against the regional Transportation and Climate Initiative, Vermont state lawmakers on Thursday discussed the matter as if TCI remains very much alive.

“Can we say we are doing it even if the governor [doesn’t sign on]? I believe so,” said Rep. Curt McCormack, D- Burlington and the chair of the House Transportation Committee.

The Transportation and Climate Initiative would set a cap on the amount of carbon-based fuel that distributors can sell, and going above that amount would bring additional costs. Critics call the scheme essentially another form of a carbon tax.

Michael Bielawski/TNR

TCI LIVES: Karen Glitman, senior director for the Center for Sustainable Energy, says legislators should give themselves the power to sign onto a regional carbon tax so that executive action by the governor can’t undermine the initiative.

Not all lawmakers in the committee were sure why they were spending more time on TCI when statements from Gov. Phil Scott and others seem to suggest the initiative is unlikely to move forward. Rep. Brian Savage, R-Swanton, told True North he was surprised to see it listed on the committee agenda.

The House Transportation Committee spent more than an hour taking testimony from two policy experts who discussed the program.

Those experts were Rick Weston, principal and director of policy for the Regulatory Assistance Project, and Karen Glitman, the senior director for the Center for Sustainable Energy and a senior fellow for the Energy Action Network.

Glitman told the committee she believes decisions about the TCI should be in the hands of lawmakers, with or without the governor’s final approval.

“Folks may recall New Jersey withdrew from REGGI [Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – similar to TCI] and that did not require legislative action; that was just an executive order and that is sort of a rapid change to the market that could cause some disruption,” she said. “I encourage you to maintain that ability in the legislature to get in and get out.”

Weston said while the TCI will raise transportation costs, the aim is to stop the use of carbon-fuels.

“Yes, TCI will have a price impact on transportation fuels, but I think that what we do with the revenues is key,” he said. “I think Karen will talk at length about this, but I certainly would encourage that if you should decide to be a part of TCI, the revenues should be used for carbon-reducing activities.

“Remember the aim of TCI is to reduce carbon, and now the trick is to find those activities that will produce the greatest amount of benefit for the greatest amount of Vermonters.”

He added that if other New England states join TCI and Vermont does not, Vermonters may end up paying more for fuel anyway, because Vermont’s fuel sources come from out of state.

Both Weston and Glitman touted electric vehicles and upgrades to public transportation as key areas that could be targets of TCI revenues. EVs currently continue to cost more than their gas-engine counterparts, with new cars starting at around $30,000 after federal tax credits that can be as much as $7,500 on top of additional state subsidies.

Glitman said she will be monitoring the progress of a used-EV program in Oregon to see if this helps open up EVs to low-income drivers.

“It will be the first statewide used EV program in the nation. I’m going to be very interested to see how that affects the market,” she said. “It also has a low-income booster, so someone in Oregon could be able to technically, feasibly purchase a used EV for less than $5,000.”

According to a report on Edmunds.com, used EV buyers should know the primary component in their used EV is a used battery. Performance and range will diminish over time and each model will vary. It also states that the federal government is required to replace EV batteries that completely fail before 80,000 miles, which costs around $5,500 plus labor.

Another idea for TCI money is to redistribute it directly to low-income people. Glitman noted this is the policy in California.

“They have required that a certain amount go to disadvantaged communities, and there is some geographic targeting of funds. That may be something of interest,” she said.

She added that the legislative direction of such funds should remain broad so that a separate board can direct the funds more specifically.

“You don’t want to have to require an act of the legislature to change something that should probably be changed on more of a scientific [measure] … based on data that says what we should do,” she said.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR
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5 thoughts on “TCI is still alive — at least in the House Transportation Committee

  1. TCI is only a scheme to promote another tax, a tax on fuels. It’s only a shell for the purpose of passing into law a carbon tax, which has nothing more in it than a tax. It has no beneficial goals other than a handful of suggestions of where to use them. And the primary goal of reducing carbon in the atmosphere is a pipe dream, considering Vermont’s contribution to the global problem.
    Glitman and Weston are not policy experts. They’re hawkers for the carpetbaggers whose goals are to market ideas and profit from them. TCI is only an idea for generating profits from the unwary and gullible, nothing more. It has no set goals, not even specifics on what to tax fuels at, just suggestions. And Vermont will not reap all the taxes TCI generates from vermonters, only a nondisclosed percentage. When TCI fails no state can sue Glitman or Weston, they only sold an idea, leaving the real dirty work up to the ignorant legislators who bought it. Glitman and Weston spread dissent in state governments by preying on progressives. Their only policy expertise is how to not conform to existing rules of law, encouraging their customers through underhanded methods, so they will buy their goods.
    This is business is not only a slippery slope but one with a tar pit at the bottom. Would you buy something from them not knowing if it works, or what it will cost you, on a paperless guarantee that it will work?

  2. These people are crazy!!! AND more of WE THE PEOPLE will be leaving as we will certainly not be able to afford to live here to say nothing of having fuel oil for your heat rationed & if you go over your “limit” it will cost you more!! Heat pumps do NOT cut it in our winters & if your old you can’t do wood. VOTE out the dems & Liberals in Montpelier Many other Governors have backed out of the farce and Vermont should too! WE NEED A NEW LEGISLATURE

  3. TCI – STOP already!! You idiots are chasing your collective tails. The only thing TCI will accomplish will be to punish those least able to pay.

  4. TCI is still alive — at least in the House Transportation Committee, hopefully, that
    is where it will ” DIE ” if there is any common sense in that committee.

    Just more nonsense from Vermont’s liberals, trying to compete with the clowns on
    the west coast……..let’s see how are they doing …..pretty pathetic !!

    It’s bad enough that Vermonter’s are drowning in debt with the states unfunded liabilities
    in the tune of $4.5B with no way to pay and these clowns want to add a ” Fuel Tax ” and
    Montpelier can’t figure out why it’s citizens are leaving……liberals in charge

    Incompetent fools is being nice !!

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