By Guy Page
H.552 is a 50-page low-carbon transportation funding and regulatory wish list sponsored by 61 lawmakers, including five members of the House Transportation Committee. To reduce transportation carbon emissions, it would:
- Fund zero-fare public transit in fiscal year 2023. Free bus fares began during 2020, supposedly as a pandemic response for financially-strapped Vermonters.
- Require employers who provide employee parking to have Level 2 charging stations for six percent of parking spaces. Grant funding would be available.
- Require some employers to have plans to reduce carbon emissions of commuting drivers.
- Provide grant funding for non-profit housing to install level 2 charging stations.
- Prohibit bicyclists from riding abreast in most instances (part of a bike safety measure)
- Require the State update prior commuter rail feasibility studies
- Charge a feebate to gas guzzlers and pass along the proceeds to fuel-efficient drivers. Or in H552’s words, it would “implement a self-funded feebate program based on pleasure car efficiency.”
The schedule of rebates and feebates would be set and overseen by a newly-created Efficiency Fees and Rebates Task Force. The seven-member appointed board would make recommendations “consistent with the Climate Action Plan.”
For example, light trucks of 16 mpg or less would pay a $500 “efficiency fee” or feebate. Light trucks of 26 mpg or better would receive a $950 rebate. Passenger vehicles and SUVs would have similar incentives.
Provide funding for a lengthy list of programs, including support for emissions repair, electric bikes, and zero-carbon schoolbuses and public transit buses.
‘Pleasure car’ is the State of Vermont term for the single-passenger car you drive to and from work. Feebates are the opposite of rebates — they take from the gas guzzlers and refund money to the fuel-efficient drivers.
“Feebate systems are one of the best available policy options to reduce passenger car emissions,” the International Council on Clean Transportation says. “Feebate systems impose a fee on vehicles with high CO2 emissions or fuel consumption (i.e., low fuel economy) and provide a rebate to vehicles with low CO2 emissions or fuel consumption (i.e., high fuel economy).”
The five Transportation Committee co-sponsors are Reps. John Bartholomew, Mollie Burke, Curtis McCormack, Gabrielle Stebbins, and Rebecca White. No Republicans signed on as co-sponsors.
Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.