Sponsors Can’t Deny ESSEX Carbon Tax Favors Rich Over Poor

by Rob Roper

Introducing the latest carbon tax bill (H.791) to the House Energy & Technology Committee, lead sponsor Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford) provided an example of how this tax and rebate scheme would affect a single mother who is low income and lives in a rural region of the state. Under the ESSEX Carbon Tax, fifty percent of revenue raised would be used to lower the electric bills of all Vermonters, the other half would go toward low income and rural rebates.

Copeland-Hanzas claims that her fictitious single mother would “come out a little bit ahead” because of the low-income rebate, the rural rebate, and – this is critically important – “also because she’s smart enough to figure out how to take advantage of some of those programs that are out there that will help her transition onto renewable energy….” In other words, if one can’t afford to buy a new electric heat pump, or a bank of solar panels, or an electric or hybrid car (or at least one that gets much better gas mileage), the most financially vulnerable Vermonters will lose out under the ESSEX Carbon Tax.

The detail Copeland-Hanzas leaves out is “those programs that are out there” cannot accommodate ALL of the low income and rural Vermonters, smart or not. Most will be left out in the cold.

Sen. Chris Pearson (D-Chittenden), lead sponsor of the senate companion bill (S.284) was challenged by a colleague in the Vermont Climate Caucus, who noted, “In terms of the effect on low income Vermonters, it seems like in the best case scenario your gas bill goes up, you’re electric bill goes down, you might be even. But it seems to me, if you’re among the most wealthy Vermonters you can easily save a lot more than lower income [Vermonters] because if you have fossil fuels heating your home, you can go out and buy a pellet stove, you go buy heat pumps, you can go buy a Tesla. You won’t even notice the bump in your budget, and you’re… reaping all the benefit. How does this benefit low income Vermonters?”

Pearson replied, “Yeah, it would be a good problem to have if wealthy people stopped burning fossil fuels to heat their homes and drive around. I mean, that IS the goal.”

Reaching that goal under the ESSEX Carbon Tax means the only people paying the carbon tax would be Vermonters who lack the financial capital to invest in some very expensive energy efficiency technology. As such, poor Vermonters stuck with gasoline powered cars, oil burning furnaces, etc. will end up subsidizing the electric bills of their better off neighbors who can afford Priuses, solar panels, weatherized homes, electric heat pumps and the like. Tax the poor to subsidize the rich. Great plan (not!).

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Willem Post February 12, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Vermont Unilateral Carbon Tax an Economic Headwind:

Various RE interests and lobbyists are going around the state to promote a unilateral carbon tax to save RE businesses, because future federal subsidies will be decreasing.

The unilateral carbon tax would take $240 to $300 million out of people’s pockets and transfer it to the state government. A unilateral carbon tax would significantly increase the cost of gasoline and diesel for driving, and of fuel oil and propane for heating.

As part of various state programs, some people would get some money back as rebates, many others would get nothing back, or much less than paid in.

For Vermont to impose a unilateral carbon tax would make its economy less competitive versus other states, i.e., more brain drain, more TAX-PAYING households leaving the state (TAX-CONSUMING families are staying), and fewer good-paying, steady, full-time jobs, with good benefits in the private sector. A unilateral carbon tax would be another headwind for the anemic, near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy.

A unilateral carbon tax would further aggrandize Vermont’s government, which is too large, too inefficient, spending too much money, is bloated with programs, and is running annual deficits, that are offset with annual increases of taxes, fees and surcharges, as if money grows on trees.


After six long years of out-of-control spending, Vermont finally has a governor, who aims to reduce the bloated, wasteful state government to enable the anemic, hollowed-out private sector to start growing again.


Willem Post February 12, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Vermont Lagging Behind Other NE States: Vermont has been sliding backwards regarding economic growth, compared to other NE states during 2012-2016, because of various expensive follies, such as:

– The huge adverse impact of all the state mandated, expensive, subsidized renewables
– The state usurping dominance in centralizing control of education, instead of local control of education
– Socialist-style experimenting with healthcare systems
– Vermont having a bloated, inefficient government that suffocates the private sector.

These follies have become an increasing headwind that further reduces the near-zero, real-growth of the anemic Vermont economy.


H. Brooke Paige February 12, 2018 at 6:16 pm

Good for Thee However Not for Me !

They will (probably) get their fancy carbon tax and it will further cripple Vermont’s economy – then the finger-pointing will begin with VPRIG complaining the legislature didn’t go far enough when implementing their scheme !

Of course what they really want is to chase all of us working stiffs off the land and corral us into the towns and cities allowing themselves and their wealthy benefactors to live peacefully in the now “less thickly populated” countryside !

Most of the hills and vales will be returned to nature except for the mountain ridgelines where their pointless tribute to the wind gods will continue to scar our vistas for generations to come !


William Hays February 17, 2018 at 2:08 am

I, reluctantly, un-assed Vermont in 1984. I moved to Florida (no state income tax) and very happily resided in my condominium, on the Atlantic in Jacksonville Beach. Jax Bch enjoyed very low electric rates and, on the island, I NEVER used my AC in the nine years there, relying on “RE”, i.e. the twice-daily sea/off-shore breezes in each direction. Retired from the US Army, I moved to Montana, driven out by the ‘Yuppies’.
In Montana, I enjoy a very low income tax NO sales tax, and $0.06485 / kWh rates on my all-electric abode. Even with AC, in +100 F. August, my bills are as low as $20.00 / month. Winter is a different story, with two vehicles ‘plugged in’ during January and February.
I must say, I do miss my Vermont wood stove. No hardwood, out here!


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