Vermont doubles down on electric vehicle push despite costs, environmental impact

Gov. Phil Scott is planning big improvements to the state’s infrastructure to accommodate electric vehicles, in addition to supporting further financial subsidies for Vermonters who wish to purchase these vehicles.

“Electrifying the transportation sector will help clean the air and keep millions of dollars within our economy,” Scott said in a recent statement. “While more work needs to be done, Vermont has taken strong steps toward a renewable transportation sector. Accelerating vehicle electrification will continue to be a priority of my Administration.”

The statement from the governor adds that the transportation sector is the largest culprit when it comes to carbon monoxide emissions, amounting to nearly half of all the state’s emissions. It also says Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan calls for getting the transportation sector to be 10 percent renewable energy by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050.

Michael Bielawski/TNR

NO GAS ALLOWED: A charger station sits unused in Plainfield on a a busy Friday evening. Gas-powered vehicles are not permitted to park in this spot.

In order to achieve this, the state would need to have 60,000 EVs on the road in six years. Currently, Vermont has registered about 3,100 electric vehicles.

In this year’s budget, Scott supported the inclusion of $1.1 million to help low-to-moderate income residents purchase these cars. To qualify, the buyer must be at 160 percent below the median household income and the car must have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $40,000 or less.

This year’s transportation bill seeks to increase the adoption of charging infrastructure, including having charging stations charge per kilowatt-hour and maintaining the state’s Transportation Fund. The $1 million received from a nationwide settlement with Volkswagen over its violation of the Clean Air Act will be used for more charging stations.

Currently, Vermont has 26 Level 3 stations that can charge in 20 minutes, and 191 that charge in four hours. At least 30 more stations of both types will be added this year.

“As the biggest per capita contributor to climate change, the U.S. should be leading the way to rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Vermont House Transportation Committee Chair Curt McCormack. “Unfortunately, our federal government is doing the opposite. We cannot depend on or wait for Washington to act. It is going to take the states to lead this effort,” he said. “Governor Scott has provided such leadership, most recently with his electric car incentive and charging station initiatives.”

At what cost?

Electric vehicles continue to be highly subsidized by the federal government. The Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Tax Credit is the primary subsidy, providing up to $7,500 to new EV purchasers as long as various vehicle standards are met.

The subsidy — which must be used on a plug-in all-electric or a plug-in hybrid model —  is applied to the first 200,000 EVs sold by the manufacturer for each calendar year. This is in addition to state subsidies including the aforementioned $1.1 million from Vermont’s budget.

Rare earth materials required

In addition to the economic challenges of EV adoption, the vehicles cause environmental concerns as well. Vehicle batteries rely on cobalt, a rare earth mineral. One of the most abundant sources of cobalt in the world is in Congo, a poor and unstable country known for poor working conditions.

A 2016 report by the Washington Post says an estimated 100,000 cobalt miners in Congo “use hand tools to dig hundreds of feet underground with little oversight and few safety measures.” It also notes that “deaths and injuries are common,” and that the mining activity “exposes local communities to levels of toxic metals that appear to be linked to ailments that include breathing problems and birth defects.”

J.T. Dodge, of Newbury, is an outspoken opponent green energy mandates, including the carbon tax. He said cobalt is a serious dilemma at the heart of electric vehicle production.

“The fact is that the Chinese own the majority of the cobalt over there and they are paying slave wages, which essentially looks like enough to eat for a day for a child,” he said. “And there they are working just for enough to eat, and that sounds an awful lot like subsidizing the mining of their cobalt, not to mention the conditions are horrendous.”

How green?

Another factor to consider about EV adoption is the net green impact of the cars compared to the gasoline counterparts. A 2014 study by the University of Minnesota found that just because a car is using electric power, that does not make it “greener.”

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

Images courtesy of Lou Varricchio/TNR and Michael Bielawski/TNR

11 thoughts on “Vermont doubles down on electric vehicle push despite costs, environmental impact

  1. Phil Scott you will sign on to anything you think will get you enough votes to stay employed. Do the right thing for yourself and Vermont and get out of politics. You obviously don’t have the intestinal fortitude to stand your ground on issues you committed to. You have betrayed your supporters and in turn are cozying up to the liberals who are going to eat you alive. You are not a democrat or a republican or a libertarian. You jump on any train that’s before you. I voted for you once and will not get burned again.

  2. Clean the air in Vermont? Are you kidding me??? Scott should get his head on straight and start with the real culprit, CHINA. In the mean time non ev owners will have to subsidise the program. Wonder if our esteemed Governor has ever wandered off the black top in Vermont. Based upon his ev stance, it’s doubtful. We live 3.2 miles up a dirt road at 1700 feet, and I have a life size picture of getting up here with a rear drive ev in the winter. Also, what about out wonderful mud season? What will they come up with next????

  3. Does this mean that our governor is going to stop racing his stock car that is fueled by all that High priced gas? Who’s going to pay for all our road repairs and upgrades since we’ll be losing all that gas tax by going to electric vehicles?
    The thinking that is going on with our elected officials is completely bizarre to me. Are we that stupid to elect these mindless people and their ridiculous ideas? I guess so.
    We need to make massive changes in 2020 to start reversing the direction that this State is going.

    • No, he won’t stop racing, because he knows that will make no gains in terms of global temps. I believe this is what is known as virtue signaling. Great political move in a deep-blue state like Vermont, but in reality is meaningless.

  4. So, low-income families may receive up to $7,500 off of a $40,000 car with the “incentives”. They can not be serious. I grew up in a low-income family; we never even owned a car that cost the $7,500! Not to mention doing your own repairs on one of these vehicles will be impossible. Not everybody can afford to worry about the planet when they need to worry about paying the rent. So ridiculous.

  5. A study by German scientists find electric vehicles are responsible over the ten year expected battery life of adding 11% to 28% more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than their Diesel counterparts when energy requirements including battery production are considered. I’m absolutely certain that the AGW confederacy considers that demonic heresy that violates their dogma. The conviction that they can control the climate belongs in the annals of alchemy and sorcery – despite their success in thwarting the impending ice age of the seventies. “Scott is planning big improvements to the state’s infrastructure to accommodate electric vehicles.” The state? Competing with private enterprise, discouraging entrepreneurs from arising to meet demand? That’s even further left than Corporatism. The practical use of electric vehicles is in cities, short-haul, frequent stops. Mail, police, transship from warehouses, UPS – practical centralization of electric charging locations and powering vehicles in congested areas while releasing combustion byproducts where they don’t affect the densely populated city. Expansion of charging stations would naturally and by private enterprise expand into surrounding residential areas and beyond – like gas stations in the early twentieth century. Demand motivates supply.

    • Addendum to the above: Charging locations: Is it reasonable to expect that, since there will be some recharging time for some vehicles, public conveniences such as motels, restaurants, bars, beauty parlors – places where a customer will expect to spend some time and where it would be profitable to encourage them to do so would equip themselves with charging stations prompted by the profit motive and at no cost to people who prefer the reliable convenience of fossil fueled vehicles? Why make this a state expense? In the private sector the cost is distributed, the expenditure motivated by profit, and – if the electric vehicles never gain substantial popularity (the last electric vehicle fad petered out almost completely) the cost is absorbed by the risk taking entrepreneurs. Get government out of business!

  6. you break the carbon cycle and we all die, their claims are all based on bad science
    these climate extremist seem to be running things right now but all the poor voters who are getting run threw the ringers on this genocide will have the last word

  7. Back in the 1970s I use to wonder what would happen when the hippies got old enough to take over the government here. And now we know. They were not only afraid to go fight for America in Vietnam, they were also commies.

    • If we hadn’t been so ‘tolerant’ back in the 70’s, fewer would be around today.

  8. Low to middle income people are being targeted for incentives to buy an EV. Are they serious? This agenda has got to go.

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