Vermont Republicans are fighting back against radical climate agenda

By Rob Roper

Vermont Republicans have always been opposed to the radical climate agenda embodied in the Global Warming Solutions Act. Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the bill in 2020 only to see the veto overridden despite 100 percent Republican support. Scott also vetoed the component of the GWSA, the Clean Heat Standard, in 2022, this time successfully and again with all Republicans on board.

However, with a few exceptions, the opposition by Republican legislators has tended to be tepid. Republicans have been willing to vote against a bill, but not as enthusiastic about speaking out against it aggressively, if at all.

That seems to be changing, at least to some degree.

Following setbacks in the 2022 elections giving Vermont Democrats strong supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature, Republicans can no longer rely on State House politicking to block the Clean Heat Standard or other bills designed to drive up the cost of, regulate, or ban fossil fuel use. It is now up to the public to pressure legislators to vote no, and to the Republicans — Scott and his administration, especially — to rally the public.

Julie Moore, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources

On Jan. 12, Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore, speaking for the administration, opened her testimony to the Senate Natural Resources and Energy committee warning that “even in desperate times, there is a line between brave and foolish” — the implication being that passing the Clean Heat Standard bill (S.5) would be foolish.

Moore went on to warn that fulfilling the GWSA mandates for greenhouse gas reduction by 2025 and 2030 would “cause significant disruption, impact other priorities, come with real costs, and risk the support of those who are being asked to pay. A rough estimate of the cost to implement identified in my earlier presentation [on the GWSA] from the thermal sector — just the thermal sector — exceeds $2 billion. … We have to reckon with the fact that there are real and significant upfront costs.”

Moore warned that the newly constituted Clean Heat Standard bill still does not address the governor’s concerns (those that led to the veto of the previous bill) about a lack of understanding in regard to how the bill would work and what the fiscal impacts of the bill would be.

Committee Chair Sen. Chris Bray, D-Addison, challenged the general assertion that the Clean Heat Standard is “unaffordable,” and gave away the proponents’ game of hiding costs to escape responsibility. “One of the problems we have now is the inability to express the cost, is because we haven’t done enough analysis. I don’t know how it [the Clean Heat Standard] can be characterized as too expensive without having had a similar analysis done by somebody so that that would be a data-driven characterization.”

What Bray and others want to get away with is never doing that analysis, at least before the bill is passed, so that they can maintain plausible deniability about the cost of what they are voting for. Doing that analysis, or not, before the bill comes up for a final vote is the point of conflict.

Moore, explained to Bray and others that while granular data on what the cost of a Clean Heat Standard would be for individuals and businesses is unavailable, we have a good idea what total costs will be: over $2 billion for the thermal sector alone, not including administrative costs. And that’s unaffordable.

To address this point, Moore announced that, absent any interest by the Legislature in finding out what the costs and impacts of their proposal will be, the administration has contracted with the Energy Futures Group to study a thermal emissions reduction plan that would meet the GWSA emissions targets for the thermal sector, as well as determining the costs and benefits to individual consumers and to the Vermont economy as a whole.

When Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, found out about this, according to a report by VTDigger, she responded, “I was surprised to hear about a plan, that we need a plan, that we need to develop a plan. We do have a plan. We passed the Global Warming Solutions Act. We have a Climate Council. The Climate Council has been doing incredible work to produce policy recommendations for us to act on, and that is what we’ve been doing.”

But the Climate Council’s “plan” contains none of the analysis or the details the Scott administration — and Vermonters — are looking for regarding costs, economic impact or return on investment. Nor does the Council, like the majority in the Legislature, seem to have any interest in providing answers to any of those questions. In the year since formally recommending their Climate Action Plan to the Legislature, the Council has produced no such data or analysis.

The Energy Futures Group report is due sometime in the middle of 2023, which would be after the Legislature has adjourned for the year, and after the Legislature intends to pass the bill.

Moore gave a number of examples where there is a lack of information necessary to craft responsible legislation, and concluded her testimony, “I urge that we do not let our desire to do something cause us to overlook or ignore important and very real unknowns, including the data needed to design a program that is complicated and far reaching.”

On the heels of Moore’s testimony, Republican House members led by Rep. Mark Higley, R-Lowell, introduced two bills, the first of which would repeal the Global Warming Solutions Act, and the second which would repeal the section of that law mandating that Vermont participate in the California fuel standards (Clean Cars II), which will ban the sale of new internal combustion engine cars by 2035.

Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. © Copyright True North Reports 2023. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Facebook
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17 thoughts on “Vermont Republicans are fighting back against radical climate agenda

  1. These lawmakers are Climate Control Communists (because we can’t say Climate Control Nazis as that is not politically correct). And it is all about control, not really about climate. Also notice God is never mentioned in their whole approach. Do they seriously think we humans can obliterate the planet? Maybe they had better read the Bible. God alone can (and will) do that in the far future. Until that time, we humans cannot do that. These liberals are trying to save us from an impossibility. Oh, and by the way, what are their scientific qualifications to do this to us? What degrees do they have in these fields? Methinks they have no idea what they are talking about. They just have an agenda.

  2. Jill Krowinski’s comments are interesting. She apparently was not aware of the plan but knew that a plan was necessary. She seems glad that we do have a plan because without a plan we would be left with no way to plan against the threat of not being able to meet the goals of the plan to fight global climate change. She is happy that the climate council is working so hard that it came up with a plan that we all can plan to follow. All the legislature has to do is to plan to act on the plan which Krowinski plans to do. I feel so conforted.

  3. This is the game they want you to play.

    If you don’t control the narrative, we will always lose.

    When are we going to learn? This is the Uniparty dialog they want us fighting about!!!!

    IF the VTGOP spoke about VERMONT ISSUES they could win the hearts and minds. But no, it’s almost like they want to lose 20x in a row….

    • We would only need to pivot, throw them a bone and point out that marxism and the NWO has nothing to do with being good stewards of our planet and everything about control, mostly of your freedom and money.

      Hey…..all people who buy cars that get 32 mpg and/or over 10 years old pay $5 for registration.

      Simple carrot, helps the poor, frugal and environment…they won’t pass it because they are about complete control and taking all your money. It will expose their hearts to the people, we don’t need to fight, we only need to shine light on their true motive and desires.

      • ” that marxism and the NWO has nothing to do with being good stewards of our planet and everything about control, ”

        Exactly Neil, and good stewards of the planet wouldn’t be pushing EV’s which require batteries requiring 50,000 lbs of earth each to build using child slave labor and poison pits to produce. The spent batteries which only last 7-10 yrs are also poison. Also just was reading offshore windmills are driving Whales on the beach from the vibrations. So they now are killing birds and Mammals… how earth friendly is that?

  4. It sounds like the wallet approach vs the Science. Sorry to say that most people either don’t/can’t understand the Science, but they will pay attention to what comes out of their wallet.

    The GWSA certainly will have absolutely zero effect on climate change, but the current parties who are responsible for this fiscal disaster will be long gone before that is realized.

    “Whoops, we made a really, really big mistake, sorry, but thanks for everything anyway. ”

    What about adding a clawback addendum so if they are wrong, then they and their heirs will payback whatever compensation they have received. Maybe then they will be just a little bit more careful before approving such idiot standards over nothing of consequence.

    In other words, if they refuse to acknowledge the actual Science then light a fire under their financial butt.

    • Another way is to actually monitor whatever in the climate you think you are changing to see if your ridiculous attempts at controlling the planet’s climate from Vermont had any effect.

      Did we get what we paid so dearly for? If not then YOU the decision maker pays.
      Wakeup bozos, you do NOT get carte blanche.

    • The litigation for any clawbacks would last forever.
      Forget it.

      Dump GWSA, and implement a state wide building energy PERFORMANCE standard, with inspectors checking construction progress and performing pressure door tests to ensure high-level insulation and sealing requirements are met.

      It is the only realistic ECONOMIC solution going forward

      • Oh great, a small army of insulation police, freshly culled from engineering school running around with tape measures and ticket books. Nope. Vermont’s Division of Fire Safety currently has jurisdiction over such things statewide- other than a handful of Vermont cities. DFS has it’s hands full, understaffed and underfunded because the legislature says so.
        How about Vermont’s histrionic political elites legislate according to the needs of the people they purport to represent, not the special interest/donor class that hold sway over the legislature. If less attention was paid in committee rooms to VPIRG and CLF and more to constituent needs we’d all be better off.
        The current insanity of restricting hydrocarbons and racing to all electric everything amounts to nothing. Vermont’s alleged 8 million tons of carbon emitted pales in comparison with the energy required to build all the electric cars and batteries to replace hydrocarbons- say nothing about the electricity required to power these electric cars, heat pumps and other gimmicks that the carbon evangelists demand we use.

  5. For those interested in our future energy sources, there was a big announcement last week that wasn’t covered by the major media.

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued its final rule certifying NuScale Power’s small modular reactor design, making the Portland, Ore.–based company’s power module the first SMR design to be certified by the agency (and only the seventh reactor design okayed for use in the United States).

    Published in the January 19th Federal Register, the rule goes into effect on February 21, allowing utilities to reference the NuScale design when applying for a combined license to build and operate a reactor. The design will be incorporated as Appendix G to 10 CFR Part 52, Licenses, Certifications, and Approvals for Nuclear Power Plants.
    As noted in the second paragraph, utilities seeking to use the NuScale reactor design only have to demonstrate that the planned location interfaces correctly with the power module to meet all the licensing criteria. A huge step toward a new nuclear plant design. The first really big advance since the 1970s.

    The NRC is one of the obstacles to wide use of SMRs to meet our energy needs with no carbon dioxide emissions. The design has been in discussion for nearly two decades and the commission took more than 7 years to review the application. At the NRC’s pace, we can expect SMRs to proliferate by the 22nd century.

    NuScale’s plant, known as a VOYGR, is a safer, modular update to the pressurize water reactor that powers the nuclear navy and 70% of commercial power plants. It comes in a 77 MWe module which is largely factory built rather than assembled at the site. A power plant is designed to be use multiple modules to be sized for the electricity needs of the utility, all the way up to a 12 module plant that generates nearly a gigawatt of electricity. Multiple gas turbines are similarly installed to generate a desired quantity of electricity.

    NuScale has a contract with a consortium of Idaho utilities to build a first plant on the DOE site there with operation later this decade.

    Progress. Sort of.

    • Thanks Mr. Chase for this comment. If one accepts the premise that we are facing dire consequences due to climate change, using such a power source that emits no carbon should be closely looked at. In Vermont there is also problems wiith electrical infracstructure. Vernon Vermont, where VermontYankee was located, has the infrastructure already in place.
      Perhaps getting rid of the current storage of spent radioactive material at the site to a permanent repository and then putting in one of these newer model plants is worthy of consideration.

      • Because of the small size, the modules are designed to plug-in to the existing infrastructure. The energy they generate would be dispersed within a small area.
        The module is returned to the factory for refueling or with the newer breeder reactors, existing waste fuel is burned as fuel in the onsite breeder, with a resulting half-life of 50 years.

      • Please point to the signature of CO2-induced climate change in atmospheric data.

        It’s not there. That’s why they push out pseudo-signatures, like for example summer sea ice in the Arctic, the non-death of the Great Barrier Reef, and supposedly increasing fires and storms which are not in fact increasing.

        We should be able to see the signature for CO2 warming in the atmosphere itself. We should be able to see infrared cooling rates caused by CO2 (that is, the extent to which CO2 inhibits cooling) reflected in the data. This is what climate models use for their projections but there’s no reflection of this in balloon data from thousands of weather balloons.

        That’s why they use pseudo-signatures.

        In an extremely complex climate system with feedbacks coming from all sides, altering one input a very small amount is like pouring a cup of tea into the ocean.

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