Debate Reveals Support for Carbon Tax

By Rob Roper

During a debate on VPR between the four Democratic candidates who will appear on that party’s August 14th primary ballot, all stated support for placing a new Carbon Tax on Vermonters. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans), will not appear on the ballot but is running a write-in campaign, did not participate in the debate.

James Ehlers, a clean water activist who runs Lake Champlain International, stated, “I do think a carbon tax is the right path to follow.”

Christine Hallquist, former CEO of Vermont Electric Co-Op, hedged a little, saying that a carbon tax is, “one of the most effective policy mechanisms you can have for mitigating carbon,” but refused to give a direct yes or no answer regarding support. She has also said that reducing Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change would be her top priority, if elected. It’s hard to imagine someone forgoing what she sees as the “most effective tool” when tackling her “number one” issue.

Brenda Siegal, a performance artist who runs the Southern Vermont Dance Festival, said, “Carbon pricing is essential as part of our way that we reduce carbon emissions in our state,”

Ethan Sonneborn, a fourteen-year-old kid, said, “I would be open to exploring [a Carbon Tax] as governor. I’m absolutely not ruling it out.”

The Carbon Tax most seriously under consideration by proponents in Vermont today is known as “The ESSEX Plan.” It would ultimately tax gasoline an extra 32¢ per gallon, heating oil and diesel an extra 40¢ per gallon, and propane and natural gas an extra 24¢. The revenues collected, after allowing for government expenses collecting and administering this complicated plan, would be redistributed via a series of rebates low income and rural Vermonters, and subsidies to electric providers, which they would in turn use to lower customers’ electric rates.

Governor Scott has promised to veto any carbon tax that reaches his desk, which would require at least 51 votes in the state House to sustain. Vermont Republicans currently hold 53 seats in the House, though twelve incumbent Republican representatives are not running for re-election.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

William Hays August 10, 2018 at 11:10 pm

I’m surprised the Democrats don’t have a dog, and a pony, running for the office of governor. Hmmm. Maybe they do.


Deanne August 11, 2018 at 2:25 am

I wonder how the tax on delivered fuel would be collected. Passing the carbon tax seems like it might be a boon to gas stations and fuel companies in New Hampshire. Maybe New Hampshire will build more bridges so it will be more convenient for more Vermonters to get over here.


Jeanne August 11, 2018 at 2:26 pm

How is this tax REALLY going to help reduce carbon? Will that money actually go to programs to benefit the general public? So they say. Will it pay, in full, to change my entire heating system from fuel oil? I think not. I can’t afford to change it or to add solar and wind. We all still need our gas for cars and home heating fuel. I can’t afford to buy an electric car. This tax will just make it harder to afford to stay warm in VT zero degree weather and get around independently!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Especially for those of us on LIMITED RETIREMENT INCOME. Come on! I do NOT support it or anyone who does. I think it’s an excuse to get more money for the state and a flimsy-brained idea for someone who likes to spend time making up brainy ideas that impress some people. Our retirement incomes don’t go up, so this much tax will be a HUGE negative impact. What do they really expect us to DO to afford this tax??? I’m almost in tears just thinking about it. More tax, higher health care, increased Medicare premiums, higher co-pays and prescription costs. Where do I get the extra money to pay 32cents a gallon for gas to shop for food, see the doctor, etc., then 40cents a gallon!!! to heat my home. I don’t drive around that much to begin with, and keep my house at 67 even in the winter. We are seniors that need to be reasonably warm. Sorry to send a ‘sob’ story, but do they think of these things? I am genuinely irate about this carbon tax baloney. So, there’s my 2 cents-worth. Cheaper than the carbon tax.


Allan Morrie August 13, 2018 at 12:16 am

I agree with you 100%!!! I have told our representatives that VT DOES NOT NEED TO BE FIRST IN THA NATION FOR ANYTHING. VT is almost the most taxed state in the nation. We have low paying jobs. Shipping for businesses who rely on shipping their products to and from their place is very expensive because Vt is so rural. That is one reason why factories are leaving and are not attracted to Vt.
The ESSEX plan is nothing more than to fill the pockets of those in Montpellier. If that plan is passed, I will seriously think about moving to another state!


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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