“Non-Pricing” Carbon Reduction Relies on… Carbon Pricing!

February 28, 2019

by Rob Roper

The House Appropriations committee heard testimony on what is being billed around the State House as “Non-Pricing Approaches to Reducing Carbon Emissions.” “Pricing” is the euphemism for carbon taxes. “Non-Pricing” approaches refers to government programs, such as weatherization, building electric vehicle infrastructure, etc. What we learned today is, not surprisingly, non-pricing options require… drumroll, please… pricing! A carbon tax to generate the revenue to pay for these programs.

This testimony follows the off-session study of Vermont’s carbon reduction options, which found that a carbon tax — even one as draconian as the VPIRG 88¢ per gallon on gasoline/ $1.02 per gallon of heating oil – would have practically zero impact on Vermont’s carbon footprint. This is because there are no ready substitutes for vehicle and home heating fuels for people to switch to and Vermonters still have to get to work and stay warm in the winter. They can’t change their behavior even if they wanted to. Moreover, if the promise is to cycle all the tax revenue back to taxpayer through rebates, lower taxes elsewhere, or some other such scheme (a revenue neutral tax), there is not enough pain generated to force a change in behavior.

So, what the climate change activists are now arguing is for programs – subsidies for electric vehicle purchases, building electric vehicle charging stations, more weatherization subsidies, 100% renewable energy standards — which the study claims would be more effective in lowering our CO2 output. None of this, mind you, would have any impact on future climate trends. It’s all just ‘cuz.

Nevertheless, today’s testimony from the Regulatory Assistance Project argued for more $600 million in new program funding over the next ten years! And, where will they get that $600 million? Carbon Taxes!

“Carbon revenue is required,” said Richard Cowart, Director of the Regulatory Assistance Project. “In my opinion we should be using carbon revenues [new carbon taxes] to pay for a carbon reduction program.”

For the past two years the sweetener pitch to Vermonters from the carbon taxers was that it would be revenue neutral. We never really believed that, arguing that with a huge pile of money pouring into Montpelier it wouldn’t take long before the politicians decided that, despite past promises, it would be better if they just kept the cash and spent it themselves. That time, judging by the fluttering, sugar-high-excited reaction of the money committee, appears to be now.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Deanne March 9, 2019 at 12:10 am

Each of the legislators should receive a file showing, in chronological order, with dates, the progression/mutation of what has been said, claimed, promised, etc. since this began, and it should be read aloud in front of all of them. Even then, they probably wouldn’t hang their heads in shame, as they should.

I have to wonder … are they, or do they think they will be, exempt from this catastrophe? Can they not connect with how this will affect THEM PERSONALLY?

It is possible they can’t.

Years ago, a local (N. H.) higher math teacher had a sign in her front yard encouraging people to vote for the increased school budget. When it passed and her taxes went up, she was very upset. She could do trigonometry and calculus, but she apparently couldn’t figure out that her property taxes were directly linked to the school budget. Go figure…

So maybe the legislators really can’t figure out how such legislation will affect their own personal budgets.


Phil Atwood March 9, 2019 at 12:52 am

One does not need to be a math wiz to figure out
that this is another political boon doggle.


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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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