VPIRG has plans for the Essex Plan

By David Flemming

Last month, environmental advocates released the Essex (Economy Strengthening Strategic Energy Exchange) Plan, which endeavors to drive down the price of electricity by driving up the price of fossil fuels. The Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) and Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) hosted a joint webinar last week that sought to answer questions posed by online audience members. Before long, one member of the audience decided to ask Ben Walsh (VPRIG) and Johanna Miller (VNRC) about the impact the plan would have on the purchase of energy-efficient appliances.

A good question! By artificially lowering the price of electricity, Vermont consumers would be more willing to purchase energy inefficient appliances that cost less upfront, knowing that the extra electricity used will be subsidized through the plan. Therefore, with their earnest endorsement of the plan, these environmentalists inadvertently created an obstacle to another of their environmental policy goals: motivating people to buy energy efficient appliances. Clearly, this outcome cannot be tolerated.

And so, Walsh decided to let us in on one of VPIRG’s future policy proposals: “it is something that VPIRG is going to be working on this coming legislative session, (to) go beyond what the federal government does. Look for more information on that in the next few weeks. We think there are some really exciting opportunities for Vermont to keep inefficient appliances off store shelves and protect Vermont consumers from those added energy costs.”

Yes, they are talking about banning products, and taking choices away from Vermont consumers.

Forget merely taxing inefficiency, VPIRG now wants to “keep inefficient appliances off store shelves” and eliminate any possibility that a Vermonter could purchase a washer and dryer that VPIRG believes consumes too much electricity. This really is a paternalistic mentality, and demonstrates clearly that groups like VPIRG and its allies with the policies they promote are really about controlling the population.

There are plenty of rational arguments for purchasing energy efficient appliances. Make a persuasive argument. But abusing the government’s monopoly on legitimate violence to force your neighbor to buy the dishwasher you think they should buy is not moving a free society in a healthy direction. Then again, VPIRG et al have no interest in our remaining a free society.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Flickr/401kcalculator.org

5 thoughts on “VPIRG has plans for the Essex Plan

  1. VPIRG and VNRC conspiring to ban from sale certain products which they, in their joint arrogance, regard as being undesirable? What’s next on their arbitrary agenda? Thought or commentary which
    violates their points of view? Perhaps school and college courses and seminars with which they view
    as being contrary to their concepts of what may be acceptable? Or possibly just deporting individuals from our state who disagree with their (VPIRG & VNRC) plan for what is reasonable thought or behavior? When and by whom were these organizations appointed to be the arbiters of what is in the best interests of all Vermont residents?

    Doers anyone else see hints of facism in their approach?

    • We could be expelling from Vermont individuals with « excessive » lifestyles on the grounds they consume too much energy.

      Send them to Las Vegas, et al.

      It would greatly improve energy consumption stats of Vermont

      More than one plane trip per year. 100% tax on the next trip.

      House too warm? 100% tax on the next heating bill

      Car too much of a guzzler? 100% tax on the next gas bill. Quadruple registration fee.

  2. Is that an error, “to drive down the price of electricity by driving up the price of fossil fuels”?
    Is that supposed to make sense, or is somebody hallucinating and telling a BIG lie?
    With people like this creating public policy and running government, we are heading for disaster.
    Edumacated fools!
    Anyway I have a solution to the problem of “fossil” fuels. Call them what they are, organic fuels!

  3. I’ll just keep ordering my major appliances from the Navy Exchange and get not only what I want, but sales-tax-free. Who needs ‘store shelves’ when trucks deliver?

  4. Hard to enforce when the Vermont sales tax has already killed most appliance retailers in Vermont. What will they do, put up a wall to prevent Vermonters from buying appliances in New Hampshire? No wonder Vermont is 48th on Forbes list of business climates.

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