Ben & Jerry’s Loves the Carbon Tax — Cuz They Won’t Pay It!

by Rob Roper

Chris Miller, who works on the Social Missions Committee at Ben & Jerry’s, testified to the House Energy & Technology committee that his company is firmly in favor of the Carbon Tax bills (H.791/S.284) based on the ESSEX Carbon Tax plan. Why? Because Ben & Jerry’s, which is owned by the British/Dutch company Unilever, will make out like bandits.

Miller shared estimates that the ice cream manufacturer would receive over $800,000 in electricity subsides if the ESSEX Carbon Tax were to become law. This he described as “obviously not insignificant.” True enough.

The way the ESSEX Carbon Tax works is distributors of fossil fuels (gasoline, diesel, heating oil, propane, natural gas, etc.) would pay an excise tax (a cost that will be passed along to customers) into a fund that will be handed over to Vermont’s electricity providers to “reduce” electric rates. Ben & Jerry’s uses a lot of electricity and very little fossil fuels, so they will enjoy all the benefits of the subsidy but bear little burden of the tax. Great for them.

However, as Rep. Robert Forguites (D-Springfield) astutely pointed out, the ESSEX Carbon Tax does not actually lower the cost of electricity, it merely provides a subsidy that creates the illusion of lower costs – as subsidy that someone has to provide the money to cover.

So, what’s really going on under the ESSEX Carbon Tax is that other Vermont businesses will be forced to pay $832,000 of Ben & Jerry’s electric bill. Who? Businesses that do rely on fossil fuels, such as plumbers, electricians, contractors and other folks who depend on trucks and vans to reach their customers, general stores that heat with oil, etc. and so on. This is an extremely regressive, anti-small business proposition.

Rep. Corey Parent (R-St. Albans) asked if Ben & Jerry’s wouldn’t end up paying more in taxes through the delivery trucks they use for distribution. Miller pointed out that Ben & Jerry’s does not own its own trucks, they use a third party for distribution, so, no they would not be paying any tax directly. Nor indirectly as the companies they pay to move their ice cream around the country are, for the most part, not based in Vermont. Miller said he would be surprised if these subcontractors  would ever buy their fuel in the Green Mountain State. Who would, given an extra 40 cent per gallon carbon tax on diesel – if you’re big enough or flexible enough to avoid the tax?

All this just goes to prove the old adage: a policy that robs Peter to pay Ben & Jerry’s can always count on the support of Ben & Jerry’s.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Fred February 10, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Rob I saw a clip on FB about a Monsanto plant here in Vt ??? says it produced 62,000 lbs last year of glyphosate??? Can’t FIND anything on it through Secretary of State, and all searches bring nothing, the article was more or less bashing Ben n Jerry’s for the most part, any idea where it is? I’d like to “tour” it

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Rob February 12, 2018 at 3:22 am

Hi Fred, I’m not familiar with the article or the issue of glyposate, but if it’s the Ben & Jerry’s plant you want to tour, it’s in Waterbury. I warn you, though, the tour consists of a short movie about Ben & Jerry, followed by a quick trip to a window overlooking the manufacturing floor. You do get a free ice cream cone at the end.

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William Hays February 10, 2018 at 5:11 pm

I boycott all Unilever products. They will not buy US, or Canadian, produced grain, due to the EU ban on GMOs. Supreme silliness! I also boycott Nestle products, for the same reason. Relief is in sight! I can now return to purchasing Nestle “Quik” (I love it), with Nestle’s sale of its chocolate business to an Italian outfit.

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