By Rob Roper
Debate over the Global Warming Solutions Act in the House Energy and Technology Committee grew philosophical about whether or not democracy is an appropriate form of government for dealing with climate change.
The Chairman of the House Energy & Technology Committee, Rep. Tim Briglin (D-Thetford) expressed his loss of faith in the Legislature’s ability to deal with any policy requiring quick action due to the democratic nature of the body. Said Brigland, “The legislature has failed dismally at the task. And, part of it is we’re a four-and-a-half month, butcher, baker, candlestick maker citizen legislature. And, I think have shown over the years that we’re pretty poor at this strategic planning process. But, I think the idea that we need an accounting for one of the programs we have and how efficacious are they is a really important point. Because I know the answer to the second point: they’re not efficacious at all.”
The “solution” to this dynamic that the committee is considering, the Global Warming Solutions Act, would effectively eliminate democracy — the voters and their elected representatives — from the process. If this bill becomes law, the Legislature would cede its authority first to the Agency of Natural Resources (part of the executive branch), and, failing there, to the judicial branch via a mechanism of citizen lawsuits. The end result will be unelected judges dictating climate policy from the bench.
Thank goodness one legislator had the courage to speak up. Rep. Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe) chimed in: “I understand your concerns about the legislature. I hear you. But ceding our authority as lawmakers and elected officials to a bureaucrat across the street and the judicial branch I think is really concerning to me. We’ve done that in the past. … I understand your concerns. Dictatorships are really efficient, Scott [Campbell (D-St. Johnsbury)].”
“Really efficient!” added Campbell with a laugh.
Scheuermann went on, “Democracies are not. Separation of powers is important. We have the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch, and ceding our legislative authority and responsibility to the executive branch and the judicial branch, I think, is — I think we really need to think about long term what we’re doing here and the impact and the precedent that we’re setting.”
Yes, we do! This romance between climate activists and dictatorships in Vermont is nothing new. Here’s a golden oldie from the EAI video archives from 2014: “Rep. Rebecca Ellis (D-Waterbury) questions whether democracy is the best form of government to deal with climate change.”