Yes, The Plan Is To Pass A Carbon Tax in 2017 (October, 2017)

By Rob Roper Rob Roper

Back in December of 2014 Rep. Tony Klein (D-East Montpelier), chair of the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee, gave an interview about Carbon Tax legislation he planned to take up. Klein admitted he did not expect a bill to pass in 2015 or even 2016, stating, “It’s at least a three-year process,” and that “you don’t [pass a massive tax increase] in an election year.”

Well, after we get past this election year of 2016, we’ll be coming up on three years into the process of passing a Carbon Tax that would add 88¢ to every gallon of gasoline, $1.02 to every gallon of diesel and home heating oil, with similar increases for natural gas, propane, kerosene, butane and aviation fuel. Should Vermonters be worried? Absolutely.

Klein’s committee has been taking testimony on the Carbon Tax with the objective of building a case and garnering support for its passage for the past two years. The groundwork has been laid.

VPIRG, arguably the most powerful lobbying organization in the State House with an overall annual budget of roughly $2.5 million, has made passage of a Carbon Tax a top priority. They’ve spent the past two summers sending people door to door to advocate for a Vermont Carbon Tax in anticipation of the 2017 push, and they hired a full time employee/lobbyist to advocate solely for the Carbon Tax and to organize a coalition of organizations to make the Carbon Tax a reality.

That twenty-member coalition of special interest groups now calls itself Energy Independent Vermont (EIV), and contains such organizations as the Conservation Law Foundation, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, the Gund Institute of UVM, and the Vermont Natural Resources council. The financial and lobbying power of this coalition is massive in its parts, but Energy Independent Vermont also has its own full time executive director in Thomas Hughes. It’s worth noting that Hughes is the former executive director of the Vermont Democrat Party.

EIV commissioned a study of how the Carbon Tax would be good for Vermont. This study was paid for in part by David Blittersdorf of All Earth Renewables. Again worth noting, if the Carbon Tax were put into effect as proposed, ten percent of the money raised would be earmarked to subsidize renewable energy businesses like Blittersdorf’s, and he has a pretty good track record of getting what he wants out of the Vermont legislature. He’s a major donor to the majority party.

Some of Blittersdorf’s donations this cycle include $10,000 to the Vermont State Democratic Committee in February 2015, and two $5000 donations to the same in July of this year. He also made a maximum $4000 contribution to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter.

Bernie Sanders promises to also be a major factor in advancing a Vermont Carbon Tax. Sanders was instrumental in getting support for a carbon tax placed in the National Democratic Party platform. It is a priority issue for him, and he is using his new-found political muscle to help elect Vermont candidates who will further his agenda here at home. Two of those whom Sanders has endorsed are Chris Pearson, a Progressive house member trying to move up to the senate, and David Zuckerman, a Progressive senator running for Lieutenant Governor.

Zuckerman is an outspoken advocate for the Carbon Tax. In October 2015, he publicly endorsed the Carbon Tax from the stage at a VPIRG/350 Vermont rally put on in support of the legislation. If wins in November, Zuckerman will function as president of the senate, and would be influential in naming committee chairs. Pearson, for whom Sanders helped raise $80,000 in two days, is the lead sponsor of H. 395 – An Act Relating to Establishing a Carbon Pollution Tax, and founder of the 40 member Climate Caucus, which supports passage of a Carbon Tax.

Climate Caucus member Mary Hooper (D-Montpelier) summed up the mindset of these legislators ihotwaterheaterpilotlight07n an August 2016 interview with VPR: “’The issue of climate change is the most profound issue of our time, and I personally believe that we have a moral imperative to act,’ Hooper says. Hooper says the concept of a carbon-pollution tax has wide support among the 40-member Climate Caucus in Montpelier, which is made up of Democrats and Progressives…. ‘I think that we have to, we have to step up to it, and show leadership in this area.’” They will be actively pushing for a Carbon Tax in January.

So, depending upon how the election goes in November, we could be looking at a sympathetic governor, and outright advocate in the lieutenant governor, and a forty member legislative Caucus pushing for a Carbon Tax, all driven forward by a large, powerful, well-funded coalition of special interest groups committed to making the Carbon Tax happen. That sounds like a plan to me.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org). He lives in Stowe.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

John Greer October 18, 2016 at 11:18 pm

I hate to say but if this passes the end of employment in the state of Vermont will come to an end and welfare will be the only way.

Reply

Irma Nagle October 19, 2016 at 1:00 am

I am against this tax. The burden will be placed once again on middle class Vermonters.
Most of the people I know, including myself, are barely able to make ends meet. I have always leaned toward the democratic party, but anyone wanting 5his tax will not get my vote.
How about this, stop excessive spending and waste. I see a lot of that going on everywhere.
And what about having an ethics law? No one ever talks about that, because those same people are making deals at our expense.

I HAVE HAD ENOUGH

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Shazzam October 19, 2016 at 3:27 pm

In a nut, this is what is referred to as a rigged election ….
David Blittersdorf’s campaign money is pure quid pro quo.
Liberal Zuckerman is in the tank so deep for reefer that supporting this will give him the pull for his future gardening endeavors which won’t include broccoli …. Once again, more of the same quid pro quo from the business-as-usual liberal Democrats.

Term limits could stick a fork in all of this but we would still be left with the likes of VPIRP and the Conservation Law Foundation. But this is also supported through our tax dollars via UVM. Taylor Ricketts, director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, is also co-founder of the Natural Capital Project, a partnership among universities and NGOs and has served as Convening Lead Author for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a 5-year, UN-sponsored effort. If there was ever any doubt that the United Nations is a grand puppeteer involved in our lives daily, there it is.

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Fred Freitas October 19, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Climate change is a proven hoax. Vermonter’s cannot afford an 88 cent per gallon tax on fuel, be it gas, or heating oil. Just what are seniors like me to do on a fixed income? Completely give up and go to the State House to take up residence? Use your heads people, this is the biggest tax scam ever run through the State Legislature and we can’t afford to pay for mistakes made in Montpelier over past administrations. I can just imagine the price for a chord of wood once this go into action. You will all but kill 50% of Vermont’s population by passing this bill. Dump it and rethink your efforts.

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Shirley Ransom October 20, 2016 at 2:25 pm

, Do they realize what this will do to business in this state. They all talk about producing new jobs, but why would anyone want to come to this state with a tax like that.

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Jim Bulmer November 1, 2016 at 5:12 pm

ONE: This can all be stopped in its tracks on November 8. VOTE, VOTE these morons OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TWO: Where is it written in stone that we have to be 95% renewable by 2050????????????????????? On November 8, we can take back our state!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! VOTE, VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Dorothy Pratt November 2, 2016 at 4:52 pm

I can’ t believe the state of Vermont is actually considering putting this type of economic burden on its taxpayers … I have seen the prices for food, gas , etc in other states much lower than in Vermont – The only people who will be able to afford to live in the Green Mountain State will be the millionaires , and the folks living on public support because the costs will put a horrible financial onus on the rest for the working public … Think what this will do to the cost of food, clothing, anything that is shipped into the state will have the costs go up accordingly. If the legislators chose to do so then they need to be castigated by all left to carry that burden.

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Dominic Delia November 7, 2016 at 11:24 am

And MY plan to to get the hell out of Vermont and into a Conservative state!

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Leslie Allen January 7, 2017 at 12:30 am

The up side of this moment is; Trump’s win promises (Sen. Shummer) a big fight over cabinet appointments, including EPA. There should be no shortage to an open debate (finally!!) why any carbon restrictions. Climate change is a hoax to promote;
a) redistribution of wealth b) a global (non-market driven) government. If given to an open debate, we win.

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