Four Takeaways from Gov. Scott’s Climate Change Commission Press Conference

by Rob Roper

Last Thursday, Governor Scott held a press conference announcing the creation of a new Climate Change Commission. This follows Governor Shumlin’s Climate Change Cabinet, and Governor Douglas’ own Climate Change Commission. Scott himself noted this non-progressing progression with a touch of irony. But this one at least appears to be a little different.

Many people on social media (and some who have contacted me directly) are expressing frustration that the new Governor is playing the same old Climate Alarmist tune as his predecessor. This, I confess, was my first reaction when I saw the press release announcing the press conference. But, the content of the conference itself gives some solid reasons to believe this is not the case. Here are four key takeaways:

  • Scott’s Commission is charged with figuring out not just how to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but how to do so in such a way as to have a positive impact on our economy and without negatively affecting “affordability.” Asked directly what, between these seemingly incongruous goals, the priority is, Scott affirmed it was the economy, which is good.
  • Scott reaffirmed his opposition to a Carbon Tax as well as to ridgeline wind development, which is good.
  • The Usual Radical Suspects are not represented on the Commission. VPIRG/Energy Independent Vermont, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, the Conservation Law Foundation are nowhere to be found, which is very good.
  • And, finally, Scott repeatedly emphasized that looking forward the best way to get renewable energy is to import cheap hydro from Canada – not trying to develop (and force people to buy) expensive, subsidized wind and solar here in Vermont. This would be a noteworthy change in policy, and it is good.

The whole thing reminded me of when my kids used to ask me in the grocery story if they could get a soda. “Yes,” I would say enthusiastically. “Just find one with no sugar, carcinogenic sweeteners, artificial colors or calories and you can get all you want.” Here Scott seems to be saying engage in as much planet saving as you want, just don’t increase costs for people, raise any taxes, or touch our ridgelines. Commission, go for it!

Although it would be much more satisfying to see Scott actually put a copy of Vermont’s utterly idiotic “Comprehensive Energy Plan” through a shredder, perhaps this is the best we could expect.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith Stern July 24, 2017 at 10:17 pm

So what he said was ignore the name because this is a commission exploring ways to promote businesses and make Vermont more affordable? It sounds very much like Obama’s job creating commission or most of the congressional Russian influence investigations. Another waste of time and ends up with a big fat nothing burger.

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H. Brooke Paige July 25, 2017 at 12:57 am

Profitable and Painless

In 2015, I mentioned to Phil Scott that the only way to replace the renewable energy form Vermont Yankee and meet the 2050 goal of 90% renewables was for Vermont to require that a third Vermont dedicated transmission line be included in the New England Energy Link project that is being laid under Lake Champlain and then run overland to Ludlow where it will connect with the grid. If this is the plan than all I can say is “Way to Go !” Plenty of “below market” Green Energy WITHOUT the need for another injurious Industrial Turbine or ugly Black Billboard !

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Kerin Bostock July 28, 2017 at 10:55 pm

Reduce, reuse, recycle, pitch in, clean water, turn off the lights, these are all slogans I grew up with. No matter what, technology calls for massive amounts of use and waste all the while to offer devices and convenience and independence from eachother.
Vermont Republican Phil Scott as Governor doesn’t need to talk to us as if the environment concern is new because our President Trump cares about America more than getting involved in an agreement with the entire world except Iran and Nicaragua.
We as Vermonters and New England, have been scratching our heads for decades now on the subject of environmental concerns. Just listen and stop talking. Let us put ideas in action and amazing things will work.

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Kerin Bostock July 30, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Correction, it is Syria, not Iran, that is one of the other countries out of the Paris agreement.
America, Nicaragua, and Syria.

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Guy Page July 29, 2017 at 7:26 pm

I asked gov Scott last week about Clean link – he’s all for it because of lake cleanup money, and is open to VT buying some of its power, although he was unsure of its availability.

By the way I agree with Rob – I think guvs goals are good. We’ll see what direction commission takes. I’m sure they are open to ideas.

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Willem Post July 31, 2017 at 4:10 pm

According to Donald Jessome, CEO and president of TDI New England, 200 MW of the recently approved, 1000 MW, HVDC line, owned by Blackstone, is reserved for Vermont. “Vermont has the option to purchase up to 200 megawatts, but Jessome said he doesn’t expect the state to take advantage of that option.” Apparently, Green Mountain Power, et al., prefer to buy much higher-cost wind and solar energy from a variety of local suppliers; Shumlin was governor.
http://vtdigger.org/2016/02/09/army-corps-of-engineers-approves-1-2-billion-power-cable/

From GMP’s viewpoint, it is understandable not to go with the 200 MW, because it does very little for GMP’s asset base, on which GMP earns about 9%/y. Instead, GMP prefers to own/lease to ratepayers heat pumps (made in Japan), solar systems (PV panels made in China with dirty coal plants) and Tesla Powerwall 2.0 batteries (made in Nevada), because that adds to GMP’s asset base, and helps GMP collect cash grants, tax credits and subsidies, and have fast write offs, to minimize paying taxes, and increase its net profit. Buying power from other producers, such as H-Q, does none of that. It has nothing to do with saving the world. That is just window dressing.

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Stephen Thurston July 25, 2017 at 1:31 am

Hope you are right Rob. We’ll have to watch how it unfolds. The co-chair is Paul Costello from Vermont Council on Rural Communities which gets via Vermont Working Lands about $1 million from taxpayers to “save” rural Vermont. Former Shumlin DPS asst. commissioner Jon Copans now works for them. They have been working on the “climate economy” agenda for the past two years or more. Pownal was the first town to participate in their program. I wonder how that’s going. I wonder if Costello will be pushing the VCRC agenda as the “solution” the same way Faisal Gill was pushing his pre-drafted Sanctuary Policy with the Immigration Task Force. It was over before it began. The meetings were perfunctory. But your points are reasons for optimism.

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Rob July 25, 2017 at 11:33 am

Hi Steve. I don’t think this thing is all good. You make valid points about some of the members, and commissions certainly can have minds of their own. But, the signal the VPIRG et al are no longer insiders is a positive development, and Scott’s desired shift from manufacturing expensive, subsidized renewable energy locally to importing cheap hydro from Canada is a major policy shift away from Shumlin, for the better. Blittersdorf must be having a conniption fit. Still… eternal vigilance as Jefferson said!

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John July 28, 2017 at 9:59 pm

And if President Trump did not back out of the Paris deal there would have been no statement to be made in retaliation and no commission necessary. All I see is pandering for the anti Trump votes.

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Jim Bulmer July 30, 2017 at 10:51 am

Another commission? Just another boon doggle which will go no where and spend tax payers” dollars. Check the study of the wind mill effect on tourism to se where that could lead. We’ll see.

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Willem Post July 30, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Certain inefficient RE favoritism structures are already in place. They need to be dismantled by Scott.

Here is an example.

GMP’s battery approach is at least SEVEN times more capital intensive than D/G sets to gas turbines over the 40-year life. GMP is allowed a return of 9% on its capital base. No wonder GMP will take advantage, if given a free hand by the PSB.

See this URL
http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/tesla-powerwall-2-0-for-energy-storage-and-demand-reduction

It is a total outrage the PSB, DPS, Democrat-controlled Energy Committees, and various RE stakeholders, such as VPIRG, are bamboozling the public with PR barrages that are mostly fake news.

Scott’s people need to be made aware of that GMP scam which was BAU under Shumlin. It must not continue, if the VT economy is to grow again.

The scam is enriching GMP at the expense of all others, in the name of fighting global warming.

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