Editor of the Reformer:
After many years of debate and posturing, the Vermont House finally capitulated and admitted the folly of legislators and special interest groups that have sought to advance a Vermont Carbon Tax and/or prohibitions on fossil fuel use as an effective mechanism to combat increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and the climate crisis - they formed a commission.
Finally acknowledging that taxation and prohibition are generally poor mechanisms to effect change, much less a change as dramatic as shifting away from a carbon economy, the Legislature has punted and established a commission to recommend a path to meet overly optimistic pre-COVID carbon reduction goals: 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 is the first benchmark.
This commission will discover the same reality that the many in the Legislature refused to acknowledge for more than a decade. Present technologies that eliminate carbon use in transportation, manufacturing, and home heating are not affordable for too many Vermonters.
Incentivizing alternative energy markets and making them more affordable and accessible is a far more effective policy. Gov. Phil Scott deserves a tremendous amount of credit for understanding this and using the budget to accelerate change by using public dollars to help Vermonters (especially low income Vermonters) shift their energy use.
There are two major problems with H.688. The Legislature has abdicated its responsibility to an unelected group and H.688 provides a path for suit to be brought against Vermont if it doesn't meet what many consider to be overly optimistic carbon reduction goals. On these grounds alone, a veto would be prudent. Regardless of what veto decision Gov. Scott makes, he has won this debate for the time being.
Many that supported H.688 did so with a deeply held belief that Vermont must act now to address the climate crisis. On this point, they agree with those that opposed H.688.
Incentivizing markets is the quickest and most efficient means to reduce carbon emissions and I will continue to support the path that Governor Scott has embarked on. I respect those that believe the path is taxation and prohibition, but cannot agree with ideas that do not adhere to even the most basic economic and market principles.
State Rep. Scott Beck, R-Caledonia-3
House Ways & Means Committee