New carbon tax proposals look to shift burden onto pollution - VTDigger
 

New carbon tax proposals look to shift burden onto pollution

Johannah Donovan

Rep. Johannah Donovan, D-Burlington, speaks at a news conference Monday in Barre. Photo by Mike Polhamus/VTDigger

Four House members are proposing what they’re calling tax reform bills that all seek to institute carbon taxes while reducing or eliminating other taxes or returning the revenue to Vermonters through other means.

One of the bills would eliminate Vermont’s sales tax and raise the same amount from a tax on carbon dioxide pollution, a contributor to climate change.

Another would return all its revenue to Vermonters through dividend checks every three months.

A third would exempt businesses earning less than $400,000 a year from paying income tax and would cut income tax rates across the board while doubling a tax credit for low-income residents.

The fourth would slash property taxes for education and raise the equivalent amount through a tax on carbon dioxide pollution.

The bills have not yet been fully written, and lawmakers say this is the beginning of a push to enact legislation during next year’s legislative session.

Lawmakers proposing the bills say all four are revenue-neutral, meaning they do not increase taxes overall or generate any additional government revenue.

Diana Gonzalez

Rep. Diana Gonzalez

The four sponsors are Reps. Diana Gonzalez, P/D-Winooski, Johannah Donovan, D-Burlington, Sarah Copeland Hanzas, D-Bradford, and Martin LaLonde, D-South Burlington. The announcement of the bills came Monday at a news conference in Barre where people held signs reading “Tax reform & climate action.”

Without having seen the legislation, the head of Vermont’s Republican Party said the bills will raise taxes and that the party opposes them all.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s spokeswoman, Rebecca Kelley, did not respond to a request for comment.

Vermont GOP Chair Dave Sunderland said the bills are a trick by Democrats and Progressives. Sunderland said he had not read any of the four bills but declared “it’s just not true” they wouldn’t increase taxes.

“These proposals all have components that will increase the cost of living in Vermont,” Sunderland said.

His party, Sunderland said, “diametrically opposes any new increase in taxes that will impact working middle-class Vermonters.”

Revenue-neutral carbon taxes have been adopted elsewhere, said Vermont Law School professor Janet Milne, who is director of the Environmental Tax Law Institute.

The classic example of a revenue-neutral carbon tax is found in British Columbia, Milne said, which is designed to protect low-income taxpayers.

There is “no debate” over whether British Columbia’s carbon tax actually accomplishes revenue neutrality and raises no new net revenues for the government, Milne said.

“It guarantees that all revenue goes back to taxpayers, in the form of tax reform,” she said. British Columbia’s carbon tax contains multiple mechanisms to avoid burdening low-income residents. It also provides tax relief for businesses.

If British Columbia’s carbon tax raises any new revenue, for instance, the province’s finance minister loses 15 percent from his or her paycheck that year, Milne said.

Other countries have instituted carbon taxes that do raise additional revenue, such as Ireland and Japan, she said.

Governments have seen their gross domestic product rise and emissions fall in countries both with revenue-neutral carbon taxes and with carbon taxes that are not revenue-neutral, Milne said.

The carbon tax bill that would return all proceeds to Vermonters through quarterly dividend checks was copied from a recent proposal by members of the administrations of former Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, said Gonzalez, the bill’s sponsor.

“My plan is a conservative plan,” she said.

Vermonters spend roughly $2 billion each year on fossil fuels, or around $3,200 per person, said Donovan.

She is introducing a bill that would double the earned income tax credit for about 40,000 low-income Vermonters, while exempting businesses earning $400,000 or less from paying income tax. The bill would also cut the income tax rate for the lowest-income Vermonters from 3.55 percent to 1.75 percent.

These cuts would be funded with an equivalent amount of revenue from a tax on carbon dioxide pollution, Donovan said. The proposal would strengthen the economy, create jobs and reduce the cost of living within the state, she said.

Copeland Hanzas has another bill that would eliminate Vermont’s sales tax altogether and replace that revenue with an equivalent amount brought in from taxes on carbon dioxide pollution.

LaLonde’s bill proposes dramatic reductions to the state’s property tax, again to be offset by an equal amount of revenue from a tax on carbon pollution.

Lawmakers plan to introduce all four Tuesday.

The bills are not expected to pass this year, Gonzalez and Donovan said. Rather, they’re meant to be “a good jump-start” to next year, the second half of the biennium, Gonzalez said.

Clarification: Janet Milne’s comments have been edited to clarify the effect of a carbon tax in British Columbia. Also, an earlier correction mischaracterized Copeland Hanzas’ bill. It would eliminate the sales tax.

Mike Polhamus

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  • Rich Lachapelle

    Historically and statistically, Vermont lies victim to few serious natural disasters but the most dangerous time of year around here is the final weeks of the Legislative session.

  • Tom Hughes

    This is what leadership looks like. Thank you Representatives Donovan, LaLonde, Gonzalez and Copeland-Hanzas for proposing tax reforms and climate action.

    Ridiculous that the VT GOP opposes tax cuts for working Vermonters while defending fossil fuel industry profits.

  • Dave Bellini

    “… a tax on carbon dioxide pollution.” Don’t they mean carbon monoxide..? Carbon dioxide is naturally occurring and we wouldn’t survive without it.

  • Richard Ley

    We elect representation to go to Montpelier Vermont hoping they will discuss ways to make Vermont affordable for the average vermonter.

    Again this year we have seen the progressives try to find ways to take guns from people and deny them their rights to due process…

    Disturbed by this I called Robin Chesnut Tangerman and expressed my concern only to be told that he must vote his conscience…. I explained to him his conscience did not elect him the people in his community did…. I am even more concerned now that these people do not have a conscience at all….

    Vermonters backs are being broken by taxes that are dumped on them omore and more each time our legislature meets in Montpelier

    It is time for vermonters to know what they are voting for when they decide to put someone into office in Montpelier….

    It is time to end the progressive policy of tax and spend in the state of Vermont

    • Willem Post

      Richard,

      The only real answer is local control.

      Local money gets spent and invested as decided by local people. No state handholding is needed.

      The more money passing through Montpelier, minus various “transit costs”, the more centralized it gets, the worse for the near zero, real-growth Vermont economy and private sector, which has tens of thousands of families already struggling to make ends meet.

      All this will never stop, until more Democrats are DE-elected next time.

    • Gail Graham

      I can relate to the response you received from Rep. Tangerman. I’m not going waste my time attempting to communicate with my Rep., as I would get a similar response, ie. “I have to go with my constituents”. So-if I don’t agree-I guess I’m not a constituent?!

  • John Benjamin

    Lets instead just ask owners of companies to move to NH,MA,NY. It would be less expensive than passing legislation that will ensure this happens with tax payer dollars at stake. Vermont has no business passing a statewide carbon tax. I am on board with a federal carbon tax, that will make it fair and equitable. otherwise it just makes Vermont look like a state that continues to shun new business development, as well as push business’s out of the state.

  • SnoCamo

    ” Lawmakers proposing the bills say all four are revenue-neutral, meaning they do not increase taxes overall or generate any additional government revenue. ”

    I just dont believe this.

    • Willem Post

      Mark,
      Right, you are.
      And that was NOT the case in British Columbia as well.
      It is good we have the internet.
      Inaccurate statements can be quickly labeled as fake news.

      • Robert Lehmert

        Are you referring to that cheesy link to the “Fraser Institute”? Seriously? Got anything else?

  • James Rude

    OK, here’s the deal. I live on a piece of property that is nearly 2 acres, most of which is covered in dense hard woods. maples, birch, beech, etc. My question is, if my trees suck in carbon during the day and give out oxygen at night….then I should receive a rebate check if this misguided carbon tax goes through. If you look at the whole state of VT, it’s mostly covered in trees and by virtue of this fact, the state is probably carbon neutral already.

    • Jon Corrigan

      Sorry comrade – without the proper permits and inspections by certified experts, you’ll be penalized for unauthorized gas discharge.

  • James Rude

    This is more about income redistribution than anything to do about the environment.

    • Neil Johnson

      You’ll notice Capstone is featured on the photo, it is totally about redistribution. And if it doesn’t raise taxes…..they’ll have the same amount of money they do now so why do it?

      These bad ideas are totally propagated by LOBBYISTS…..it’s the most sane reason why we need ethics reform immediately. Jim Condos has a great idea, it would save us $250,000,000…….

      • Richard Ley

        Maybe Jim condos could also work on voter fraud by doing his job

        If we did not have voter fraud in Vermont we need may not be fighting the people that are dragging these Progressive ideas into Vermont and destroying this beautiful state

  • Chet Greenwood

    How can we go wrong? Everybody gets money back!
    Now the rest of the story- what happens when all Vermonters are forced into replacing their heating systems with alternative fuel and their vehicles with electric or just go to bicycles! Most Vermonters do not have the resources to just turn the switch and stop using fossil fuels.
    Where is the state going to get revenue after everyone has “seen the light” and converted away from fossil fuels? Do we reinstate sales tax? income tax?
    How do we collect all this carbon tax money and give it all back- this cannot be done without skimming off the top to pay administration and special interests.
    Careful what you wish for! This is a huge tax waiting to happen.

  • George Plumb

    Wow, this is a total surprise! So grateful to these legislators for having the creativity and courage to come up with these forms of carbon pricing legislation. We need to act now and very strongly if we are to prevent the worst effects of climate change which is already happening and there is not question that it is happening. Watch this video as just one of many examples of proof.
    http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2017/04/these-stunning-timelapse-photos-may.html?mc_cid=b2fb2080cc&mc_eid=f498673985

    And for the deniers that it is human caused, which 97% of scientists agree, what is so difficult about understanding if you put two small greenhouses side by side and one has air at only 350 ppm carbon dioxide and one has air that is over 400 ppm that the later will be hotter? Duh!

    • Edward Letourneau

      George, what do those scientist think caused the warming 10,000 years ago, that melted the mile thick ice that covered half the planet? If they can’t answer that, their current theory is flawed.

      • Matthew Davis

        Milankovitch Cycles caused the warming you speak of…

        • Edward Letourneau

          That is a unproven theory, for which there is little evidence. Its much like everything science though about dinosaurs 50 years ago — and which has been proven wrong.

          • Matthew Davis

            You are wrong…Milankovitch Cycles are well understood and are proven, in fact the same basic variations cause the seasons to change. Feel free to provide evidence that suggests otherwise though…

      • Robert Lehmert

        Scientific American examined this question. Here’s a brief excerpt:
        (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-thawed-the-last-ice-age/)

        “Modern global warming stems from a clear cause—rising levels of CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) from fossil fuel burning, cutting down forests and other human activities. And, in the past rising CO2 levels at the very least magnified global warming, ushering in the relatively balmy, stable climate sometimes called the “long summer” that has allowed human civilization to flourish. Humanity has now raised global CO2 levels by more than the rise from roughly 180 to 260 ppm at the end of the last ice age, albeit in a few hundred years rather than over more than a few thousand years. “The end of an ice age, you have a sense in your bones what that means: a big, significant change for the planet,” Shakun says. “It’s a tangible example of what rising CO2 can mean for the planet over the long-term.”‘

        [Note that the most recent recorded levels of CO2 are over 410 ppm]

      • JohnGreenberg

        “If they can’t answer that, their current theory is flawed.” That would be true only if the theory purported to suggest that ALL warming is caused by additional greenhouse gases, but that’s not even close to being the case.

    • Peter Everett

      So the Medieval warm spell that lasted, roughly, 150 years…before fossil fuels, was caused by humans. Climate change has always occurred since time beginning. It will chance many, many more times. It will not stop changing because we want it to.
      97% of scientists do not agree on this. You can not place every branch of science into this debate. Is a social scientist qualified to weigh in on this? Is a political scientist qualified? Meteorologists, Climatologists still have a hard time agreeing.
      Yes, we may be experiencing a warming trend now. Are you 100% sure that 50 years from now this will still be going on? I’m not. Hell, scientists can’t predict tomorrow’s weather, correctly, all he time. I’mcto believe they are going to be correct that far down the road.
      I was taught many years ago, “don’t believe anything you read or hear, and, only half of what you see”. Made sense then. Makes more sense now. I, especially, do not believe what politicians spout off about this subject. They are far from experts in this subject. They only listen to what fits their needs.
      Yes, climate is changing. It always has, always will. There all be good times and bad times.
      By a the way. Earth’s human population is the greatest it has ever been. We have destroyed forests (they convert CO2 into O2), that the isn’t fossil fuel.
      Increased CO2 has increased food production 6 – 8%. This is a good thing to help feed the world. Not everything is to be construed as a negative.

    • John McClaughry

      Let me rephrase the question. Greenhouse A has 7 molecules of CO2 per 20,000 molecules of air. Identical Greenhouse B has 8 molecules of CO2 per 20,000 molecules of air. Will Greenhouse B be detectably warmer than Greenhouse A? Using what observational method? What margin of error?

      • John, have you ever seen a greenhouse that was a closed, air-tight system? Most greenhouses I have been in leak like sieves. Your analogy seems highly obfuscatory to me. Let’s use a better metaphor here – John McClaughry’s body. And let’s say that we increase the carbon dioxide in your blood by the same 14% that you propose in your thought exercise. How long do you think you will live?

        I wish that you nay-sayers would be honest about your real motivations for making these arguments.

        • Neil Johnson

          They are trying to bring science into the discussion. How is it the only way we can improve the environment is through a tax? A tax is inherently a confiscation of one’s life force and freedom. Hopefully you might see the legitimate concern some have when we are mandatorily taxed in health care, federal, state, fees and now the air we breath. Very, very few are saying we shouldn’t improve the health of our planet. We are being honest, most people in office are clearly not listening.

          How about Vermont allows electric cars/bikes of all types on our roads, no regulations. You’d have electric transportation in droves, you’d have cottage industries if zoning permitted pumping out these vehicles.

          We all want the same thing, you guys just want complete control of peoples money, which is a HUGE difference.

          • JohnGreenberg

            “They are trying to bring science into the discussion” No they aren’t. They’re trying to bring pseudo-science into the discussion. There’s a big difference.

          • Neil Johnson

            When people vilify and call others liars it makes it tough to find common ground, it certainly doesn’t help the “cause”. In science you should be able to quantify and repeat the results of your experiment. Scientists love to have people challenge them, it further substantiates their claim if it can’t be refuted. People want to take care of the planet, it’s our home. Perhaps starting and working on common ground might bring people together.

        • Don Dalton

          Actually, John will live quite well with a 14% increase of CO2 in his blood, if we take our evidence for the allowable limit of CO2 in submarines, which is 5,000 ppm. I believe for astronauts the allowable limit is 7,500 ppm, but I could be a bit off.

          The evidence for this is in a video made by retired rocket scientists– literally.

          They make a couple of interesting points, including the above info on CO2 levels in spacecraft. They also remark on the climate models: they present problems that can never be solved because they’re too complex; there’s no way to derive certainty from any of them, or even any “accuracy.” In the minds of these experienced scientists, climate models are computer games played by kids who don’t know what they’re talking about, and that have to be fudged to get the right answers.

          You don’t hear about this. In fact, you never hear about anything that contradicts the religion of CO2 warming, do you? If there is any contrary evidence, immediately it’s labeled as “anti-science,” “denier,” or whatever. Doesn’t anyone find this state of affairs a bit curious– that we are told to ignore anything that disagrees with our beloved consensus?

          • Don Dalton

            I see that I’ve made some mistakes. If you go to about the 18 minute mark in my linked video (above) you’ll see that the submarine limit is 8000 ppm, and space station limit is 5000 ppm. OSHA allows 10,000 ppm CO2 for limited exposure. I apologize for my errors.

            Do you really think an extra 300 ppm CO2 is going to do anything but make plants grow a little better? It CANNOT and does not act like a greenhouse, and this is well-known by scientists– including every climate scientist on the planet– but not, apparently, by the public.

      • JohnGreenberg

        John:

        If your point is that our current temperature measurement
        instrumentation fails at exceedingly small levels of difference, you are probably right.

        But that says nothing about greenhouse gas theory. Greenhouse gas theory does not purport to explain the adequacy or lack thereof of current measuring instruments.

        Take the same 2 greenhouses. Put 7 x 10 to whatever power would represent the usual situation of CO2
        in a greenhouse) molecules in one, and 8 x 10 to the same power in the other. Measure the difference.

        If there is no difference, then you have a valid point.

        I suspect, however, that we both know what the outcome would be.

    • Christopher Bennett

      If every person in the state of Vermont
      Could eliminate their carbon footprint tomorrow it would have no impact what so ever on the globel warming problem. We are a state of less than 700000 people,why do we feel we need to add to our financial problem’s to show the world the error of their ways. I don’t want to sound like I don’t care about the environment. I just think we need to get or own more pressing problems in order first. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have a hard time believing or lib,prog, legislature will give this money back without finding something else to spend it on. Governor Scott get your veto pen ready.

      • But if every person in the world eliminated their carbon footprint, our problem would be solved.

      • Arthur Hamlin

        Agreed. This idea is a non-starter just like “divesting” state funds from oil and coal. And this is coming from someone who just invested tens of thousands of dollars on solar panels.

    • Neil Johnson

      Funny I thought in science to become a law it had to be irrefutable? Isn’t that that scientific method? 100% of scientists agree in the LAW of gravity.

      Human caused and to what degree? Sunspots? When you don’t know the difference between law and theory in science, we perhaps need to brush up on the text books.

      History books have also shown that many, many civilizations and religions have predicted the end of the earth. Historically is proven a great way to control the population. Have you read how many times this has occurred…many, many.

      Yet remarkably we are still here. Perhaps if we worked together we could take better care of our planet. Most everyone would agree that’s a good thing.

      • JohnGreenberg

        “I thought in science to become a law it had to be irrefutable? Isn’t that that scientific method?”

        You were wrong. Nothing in science is irrefutable, though for about 200 years, everyone believed Newton’s equations to be so.
        “100% of scientists agree in the LAW of gravity.” No, they don’t. There is actually considerable debate among physicists about how gravitation works and what causes it.

        • Neil Johnson

          Too funny, but people are deniers if they even question climate change. Your statement proves my point exactly, thank you. And I think there is a law of gravity, any scientist is free to jump off a building to prove it wrong.

          • JohnGreenberg

            Jumping off a building won’t prove WHY you fall, which is what the “law” of gravity is about.

            The “theory” of evolution does not explain THAT life has evolved. There is plenty of factual evidence for that in the geological record and it was well known and acknowledged before Darwin’s time. Darwin’s “theory” explains how and why evolution occurs.

    • Don Dalton

      You’re going to have to prove to me that a greenhouse with 400ppm CO2 is hotter than one with 350 ppm. Show me the science. I highly doubt it because as you know CO2 has a logarithmic rate of absorption and 50 ppm makes virtually no difference, and in any case the bulk of the heating of the greenhouse is done from the REAL greenhouse effect, which is the blocking of convective heat transport that dwarfs anything a mere 50ppm CO2 will do.
      Is a submarine with 5000 ppm CO2 then burning up? Since everyone is so sure that the deniers are selling anti-science, I’m sure you can come up with solid science that tells us that a greenhouse with 400ppm CO2 is hotter than one with 350ppm.

      Time lapse photos– great idea! Can someone please show me time lapse photos when glaciers were melting in the Medieval Warm Period, and this allowed farmland to expand? Would someone then please show me time lapse photos in the Little Ice Age, when the glaciers again advanced and wiped out whole villages in the process?

      You and all of those who believe in the 97% consensus should do a good, thorough research project on this, just to prove to yourselves beyond a doubt how right you are.

  • Ritva Burton

    This plan sounds too convoluted! Rob Peter to pay Paul. Pay the carbon TAX and then hold your breath to get your money back.

  • Willem Post

    CO2 is a vital food for biomass growth; no CO2, no growth.

    As CO2 is absorbed, O2 is released, which also is not a pollutant.

    No oxygen and we are all dead within minutes.

    CO2 is not a pollutant.

    The VT sales tax raised $396.6 million in 2016, and was used for general fund purposes.

    A carbon tax replacing the sales tax would be used for general fund purposes? I have a bridge….

    Various RE lobbies would object to that, and say: “How can we save the world without subsidy money?”

    Regarding British Columbia, it is better to research some data before making inaccurate statements, likely based on hearsay.
    http://ethanallen.org/british-columbias-cautionary-carbon-tax-tale/

    • Robert Lehmert

      Mr. Post —
      Obviously, carbon dioxide exists in nature and are easily documented in ice core samples. However current concentrations of carbon dioxide have never previously existed at the same time as complex human civilization. The retreat of the glaciers in the few thousand years preceding the end of the Ice Age were accompanied by an increase atmospheric CO2, from about 180 ppm to 260 ppm. (Scientific American, see link below). The most recent measurements are over 410 ppm and rising very rapidly. The warming caused by record-setting concentrations of greenhouse gases is screwing up the weather, turning our oceans into carbonic acid, and threatening famine and wholesale species extinction.

      “We” really do need to get past this supposed controversy. While I’m sure some people enjoy playing the role of a curmudgeon and others are simply paid to lie, other people would like their progeny to survive the change from the holocene to our new climate epoch.

      The carbon tax and dividend plan now under discussion in Vermont and nationally is completely distinct from a sales tax. The amount of the tax is not related to the price of an item sold, but rather how much sequestered carbon was released into the atmosphere in the item’s production and consumption. Also, it is not possible to profit from a sales tax, but common under a carbon tax/dividend.

      A carbon tax and dividend plan is also not a gasoline tax as is commonly used to maintain roads, etc. and this remains a significant unaddressed issue.

      It is carefully designed to be revenue neutral encouraging sensible behavior. A person can choose to live using as little carbon as possible, and use the dividend for discretionary items or education– or use it to offset and pay the carbon tax and forgo fun stuff.

      It might surprise you to know that a group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, with former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Henry M. Paulson Jr., a former secretary of the Treasury, have stated publically that taxing carbon pollution produced by burning fossil fuels is “a conservative climate solution” based on free-market principles.

      It might also surprise you that Exxon Mobil internal cost accounting assumes an “externalized cost” of carbon pollution of $70 a ton. Last month, Exxon Mobil wrote President Trump stating its strong support for the Paris climate accords and asking Trump to continue efforts to control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

      A gallon of gasoline produces about 22 pounds of CO2 when oxidized. At $70 per ton, the carbon tax would result in a gallon of gas costing about 70 cents more. On the other hand, the dividend would be significantly LARGER than the increase in cost for the vast majority of Americans.

      I ask you to contemplate these concepts, and the damage to people and property associated with underpriced and heavily subsidized carbon. These include the wide prevalence of respiratory diseases which kill millions of people each year worldwide, the poisoned waters, catastrophes like Lac Magantic, ruined topsoils and parched farmlands, killer storms and flooded coastlines, diminished fisheries, civil unrest and mass migrations, and the multi-$trillion cost of defending the Persian Gulf. Is it possible for an intelligent and moral person to ignore and mock possible mitigation?

    • JohnGreenberg

      Your logic is nonsensical. Water is necessary to life. So water is not a pollutant. Now, fill your lungs with it.

    • David Bell

      “No oxygen and we are all dead within minutes.

      CO2 is not a pollutant.”

      And we need water to live, yet too much of it can kill you, is this actually hard for you to accept?

  • Owen Farnsworth

    A carbon tax will do great harm rural communites. The added expense to rural residents will accelerate their movement out of our communities. While Burlington’s property vales have fully recovered and and are on the rise, Lincoln’s property values fell by 3% in just the last year. This drop is reflected by the common level of appraisal calculated by the state education agency. The carbon tax is yet another simple minded proposal from foolish single minded environmental activists.

    • chris wilmot

      The goal is to “herd” the poor into living in city centers where they will pay high rent to wealthy landlords. Landlords whose country estates will be free from pesky poor vermonters- oh and tax free under our “land trust” no sense

  • Gary Viens

    This is just great, a tax that disproportionately effects rural Vermonters who are barely hanging on, unbelievable!

    • Robert Lehmert

      The vast majority of rural Americans would receive a quarterly dividend that exceeded the tax.

      Keep your ears open as the proposal develops.

      • Gary Viens

        Dear Mr. Lehmert, sure they will…….obviously you have extensive dealing with this bunch, and yes I deal with them everyday. Representative Gary Viens, Orleans-2

        • Robert Lehmert

          There are some other BIG fiscal problems in Vermont with more on the way, apparently. It is my sincere hope that this not be used for general revenue but I do understand your point.

  • Craig Powers

    Pure and simple income redistribution scheme. Progressives never give up thinking of ways to rearrange the deck chairs to extract more $$$ from those they deem “wealthy”. Phil Scott will veto these as new taxes…thankfully.

  • Sarah Wolfe

    Thanks so much to these four lawmakers for stepping forward and proposing legislation that would take bold climate action while reforming a broken tax system! Great leadership.

    • Richard Ley

      This is nothing but an attempt to steal more money from the pocketbooks of vermonters

      We need people in Montpelier to find a way to stop taxing us to death we can not take any more of this

      It is time for vermonters to vote out the progressives that are destroying the state of Vermont

  • Edward Letourneau

    This is another useless concept. Correct the existing taxes to make them fair across the board first. Like the education tax that decides local taxes and IRA contributions or IRA money used to fix the roof are household income that we can go spend on consumption and therefore we ought to pay more education taxes on them.

    • Robert Lehmert

      I guess you didn’t see the part that says “The fourth would slash property taxes for education and raise the equivalent amount through a tax on carbon dioxide pollution.” I fail to see how your “IRA money” has anything to do with your property taxes or a carbon tax/dividend.

      • Edward Letourneau

        Its a simple concept about abusive taxes, in the case of IRAs its aimed at senior citizens. In the case of this oil tax it attacks seniors who can’t afford and electric cars and have to heat their homes. They are the ones paying most of the taxes now for education. — When they die off over the next 20 years, and no one can afford to buy their properties, the rest of the people will see tax bills that will crush their lives. In the case of this oil tax, its for theory of warning that is not proven. 40 years ago some of the same people were telling us how nuke plants were all going to melt down and make cities a wasteland, and how the world was going to run out of food because of over population. It was all crap and time will prove the warming claims are too.

        • Robert Lehmert

          Have you heard about the Fukushima nuclear plant? How about Chernobyl?

          Consider what would have happened on 9/11 if the hijackers had plowed a plane into Indian Point nuclear plant just north of New York, rendering the entire region as uninhabitable as Fukushima. Maybe Vermont would have triple its current population today as permanent refugees.

          Stuff happens. Just sayin’.

        • Robert Lehmert

          Edward, the basic science linking concentrations of CO2 and climate warming dates to 1859 and a Scottish physicist named John Tyndall. However there is documentation that an American physicist named Eunice Foote presented a paper demonstrating this in 1858. It’s really basic science and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

          http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/09/02/the-woman-who-identified-the-greenhouse-effect-years-before-tyndall/

          • Don Dalton

            It is not “basic science.” The only science in it is that CO2 absorbs and re-radiates IR radiation and that this back radiation could heat our atmosphere by one degree C, no matter how much CO2 we dump into the atmosphere, due to CO2’s logarithmic absorption rate. What is NOT science is the continual assumption that this 1C rise in temperature will be amplified by water vapor and clouds, and in fact this is the greatest uncertainty concerning CO2 warming. The ENTIRE debate over CO2 hinges on whether the feedbacks to CO2 warming are positive or negative; that is, whether earth has mechanisms to discount CO2 warming or amplify it. The evidence so far is that CO2 is hardly affecting climate at all, but that doesn’t stop the media from seizing on catastrophe, and that doesn’t stop ardent supporters of the theory from defending it at all costs.

            What we see as current warming is most likely natural warming and climate change, as has happened numerous times in the past. But that doesn’t sell newspapers, and that doesn’t keep the funding going to the alarmist scientists. When you hear that the last five years or whatever are “the warmest on record,” remember that they’re talking about 100ths of a degree, and this dwarfs the margin of error: it’s hot alright, but it’s only hot air.

  • Bill Magnus

    When you pollute for benefit there should be an associated cost. We the people are paying to restore our environment while others are making money destroying it. Look at the lake as an example; if it is your stuff that is running off your property and polluting it, then you should carry more of the load to either preventing it or paying to restoring it. Whatever plan devised that penalizes the polluter to the benefit of the rest of the population should be explored until we find something workable. What we have isn’t working for most of us.

    • John McClaughry

      I agree with this principle. SO2, NOx, benzene, and particulates released by internal combustion engines are pollution, and correctly regulated as such by the Clean Air Act. CO2 emissions do not pollute anything. Are we going to tax people to penalize them for producing essential plant food?

      • JohnGreenberg

        Fine John. The tax is actually on fossil fuels. So if it makes you happy, call it a SO2, NOX, benzene and particulates tax and support it.

        • Robert Lehmert

          And that way, he can avoid confronting factual reality. Good idea.

        • Don Dalton

          No, it is a CARBON tax, specifically.

      • David Bell

        Many forms of waste are also essentially plant food, I assume you are also opposed to all forms of sanitation?

  • John McClaughry

    Reporter Polhamus uses “carbon dioxide pollution” four times in this supposedly unbiased report., which compromises his objectivity. Could we have some editorial supervision here, please?

    • Broadly speaking, a pollutant can be viewed as a resource out of place. Phosphorus is an essential nutrient, but look what it is doing to Lake Champlain. This criticism comes out of a lack of a basic understanding of science.

    • Dana Drugmand

      Actually that terminology is legally sound, as carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and EPA has authority to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act. This was established in the Massachusetts v. EPA case: “Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act’s capacious definition of “air pollutant,” we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emissions of such gases…” The Court even mentions carbon dioxide specifically as an example of an “air pollutant”: “Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydroflourocarbons are without a doubt ‘physical [and] chemical…substance[s] which [are] emitted into…the ambient air.'” (p. 26)

      https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/06pdf/05-1120.pdf

      • Don Dalton

        How exactly is CO2 a pollutant when the allowable limit in submarines is 8000 ppm? We are at about 400 ppm in our atmosphere. It is a pollutant through EPA slight-of-hand in order to exercise control over CO2 emissions, but CO2 is not, in itself, a “pollutant.” It is needed for life. If it goes below about 150ppm, plants begin to die.

        • JohnGreenberg

          How is the atmosphere of a planet analogous in any way to a submarine? No one is claiming that human emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere are enough to directly cause human deaths. Your analogy proves nothing.

          • Don Dalton

            If 8000 ppm doesn’t pollute the submarine atmosphere, then it’s very hard to see how 400 ppm “pollutes” the terrestrial atmosphere.

    • JohnGreenberg

      Sorry John. Reporter Polhamus’s language reflects the consensus of climate scientists, government agencies, scientific societies, etc. If he referred to the earth being round, would that “compromise his objectivity” because there are a few flat-earthers who persist in their beliefs?

  • Peter Everett

    It’s time that Vermont step into the 21st Century. A Constitutional Amendment has become necessary to combat certain aspects of government’s control on it’s citizens. An amendment that allows voters the right to correct politician decisions is needed. Too often government caves into “special interests” wishes over the wishes of the voters. An amendment allowing a binding referendum would give voters the chance to either approve or revoke decisions. In other states this process works successfully. Why won’t Vermont allow this process? We hear how well educated we are (we certainly spend well, don’t we?). Why not let us prove that the money was well spent? Are we Lemmings, or, can we have input to how government spends our earned income? I, for one, am tired of annual increases of taxes to fit the needs of the these “special interests”. Time we have some say. What are the politicians fears? Maybe, it’s losing the perks they receive from lobbyists. Amend the constitution to allow this process. It works in other states. Why not Vermont? FDR said it well: ” we have nothing to fear, but, fear itself”.

    • The “special interests” that you refer to here are future generations.

      • Peter Everett

        How can you be sure that the “special interests” I refer to are those you mention? Thank you for your input, but, you’re wrong.

    • Gayla Siple

      I’m sorry but a Constitutional Amendment to have Citizens make decisions is unrealistic. Most towns still use town meetings to make decisions instead of using the Australian Ballot, so a couple hundred people run the town. Approximately two hundred people can fit into the Town Hall where I live. Couldn’t get them to understand they would still have town meeting, but would vote on articles the next day. Then we have people complaining about high property taxes and they still vote for the same tax and spending people. So considering just these two issues do you really think leaving it up to us would be wise? Please provide names of States that have done this and the statistics.

  • Michelle DaVia

    There is one very simple solution to stop this.
    DO NOT vote for a Democrat for any Vermont State legislative seat, but never vote for a Republican for President or Congress.

  • Steve McKenzie

    A number of initial concerns when I read this:
    1. These proposed proposals do nothing to address the underlying tax burden /government cost trajectories in Vermont. I would encourage the legislators to first focus on effective cost/tax reductions.
    2. What occurs if/as any of these proposals worked? Related revenues would decline, cost would be consistent, requiring increasing the tax rate on a receding base or, more likely, an increase in those taxes initially cut, counteracting the main initial selling point.
    3. “…all four are revenue neutral, meaning they do not increase taxes overall…”. While the proposals may or may not be neutral on a macro-basis, it is highly unlikely any would be on every micro, ie personal, basis, which is the #1 concern of every citizen. I’ll wait for the details, but I do not believe those disaffected will feel better as long as the state as a whole is tax-neutral.
    4. Quarterly dividends?? Someone making $30-40k/year with a tight budget outlays an additional $X each day/week/month, and waits for a “refund” of some amount (which may or may not equal what they spent)? That doesn’t help put groceries on the table each week, pay childcare, rent, etc., in the interim.

    I look forward to reading the specific details/mechanics of each of the proposals.

    • JohnGreenberg

      Steve McKenzie:

      First, thank you for thoughtful and constructive comments. I want to address just 2 of them using your numbers.

      #2) “What occurs if/as any of these proposals worked?
      Related revenues would decline, cost would be consistent, requiring increasing the tax rate on a receding base ….”

      That’s true, but why would it be a problem? A rate of ten cents a gallon on 100 gallons would produce the same tax bill as a rate of $1 a gallon on 10 gallons.

      As long as the rate and the usage remain proportional to one
      another, then the actual amount of the tax paid wouldn’t change. Meanwhile, the environment would be considerably better off thanks to the reduction in fossil fuel use.

      #3) Tax neutrality can be considered only at the gross level. By substituting one tax for another, some individuals will do better and others, worse. The notion of revenue neutrality is to keep the gross level of revenues the same, meaning that taxpayers as a whole pay neither more nor less.

      Under ANY tax scheme, including the current one(s), there
      are winners and losers. It’s reasonable to suggest as you do that those benefiting from the current scheme and hurt by the new one will be “disaffected.” But how about those whose lot would improve? Your comment relies on accepting the current scheme as somehow “neutral” or given. But it’s no more neutral than ANY tax scheme. “Don’t tax you; don’t tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree.”

  • chris wilmot

    Rob the poor to distribute money to tesla driving rich folks

    • Glenn Thompson

      Unfortunately, that is the way it is. Those who purchase Teslas are usually in the upper income brackets and are rewarded with a $7500 tax credit for purchasing one!

      Then, we have our geniuses in Montpelier who come up with hairbrained plans that will negatively impact those poor rural Vermonters who don’t have the ability to purchase Teslas and pour $$$$thousands into their homes to either purchase expensive green energy technology nor the means to super insulate their homes.

      If you are an Utopian, this all makes sense. For those who have the ability to use logic and common sense we shake our heads in disbelief.

      • Robert Lehmert

        What is “expensive green insulation”? Mine is pretty ugly gray, but I used less than 1/2 tank of fuel oil this winter.

        • Glenn Thompson

          Was I talking about only insulation? Insulation only goes so far. Take that from someone who designed and built a primary residence many years ago with the emphasis on spending as little on heating costs as possible within my budget. If your entire focus is on insulation, then one can still expect to spend many $$$$ when winter temps dip below zero on many occasions.

          • Robert Lehmert

            I’m down to half a tank of oil and a cord of wood on just sealing and insulating. Also, by the way, my GMP bill was $19.37 for lights, cooking, hot water, and all other plug power.

    • Robert Lehmert

      Not really. First, not everyone who drives an efficient vehicle drives an $80,000 car. Second, VT doesn’t give any incentives for electric cars. Third, the dividend is distributed in an even amount for every eligible person. It is intended to help people of modest means. What you do with the dividend is up to you. If your pick-up gets 8 mpg, getting a newer one that gets 12 mpg might do the same job with a giant savings. Trucks are much more efficient than they used to be.

  • John Grady

    If it was a crises situation the Burlington Airport would be closed and converted to housing to reduce commuting and also address the housing crises.
    No mention of sin taxes for wasting energy so it’s all about funding for the status quo good old boy system and has nothing to do with the environment.

  • Jason Brisson

    We wouldn’t need to punish every commuter in VT that doesn’t drive a Prius, if the State of Vermont had spent more time and $$ over the years encouraging economic development throughout the rest of the state, instead of pandered to Chittenden County businesses. Vermont has freezing cold winters, we use oil and wood to heat–so now you’re going to tax peoples very survival?! This is wrong headed legislation indicative of a government too far removed from the people its supposed to represent!

    • Robert Lehmert

      The tax will be offset by the dividend in more than 2/3 of the time. If you need,say, a pick-up for work, the system will encourage you to get one that is more modern, and give you some cash to upgrade. Wood and biomass (pellets) are exempt from the tax as it is carbon-neutral. There are tens of thousands of uninsulated and drafty homes in Vermont which could heat for less than half of the cost today — use the dividend there for maximum savings (and comfort).

      • Jason Brisson

        Don’t take $$ from people in the first place, and you don’t have to give it back. Schemes like this create more bureaucracy, and seldom succeed in the intended purpose.

        • Robert Lehmert

          Maybe it takes a little getting used to it, but it should produce a much cleaner Vermont without a whole lot of disruption. Once we’re running cleaner, the state economy should benefit.Already,there are almost 15,000 Vermonters employed in sustainable energy and efficiency, and by keeping $billions of dollars in fuel costs in state, the economy will benefit permanently.

        • JohnGreenberg

          “Don’t take $$ from people in the first place” Are you suggesting that the current tax system doesn’t take $$ from people? Or require any bureaucracy?

  • Skyler Bailey

    Never mind that this will kill what is left of agriculture, hurt business, hurt those who live in rural areas, and accomplish absolutely nothing other than increasing state revenue…

    Climate environmentalists: Vermont legislators already quashed a proposal to increase the smoking age because it would hurt revenue. Do you really want the state to have a vested, financial interest in the use of fossil fuels?

  • John Freitag

    The six years of the Shumlin administration and super Democratic majority in the legislature saw laws that dramatically changed the way we handle health care, education and energy. We are still dealing with some of the negative ramifications of these policies and trying to adjust to making these massive shifts work for all Vermonters. Governor Scott was elected primarily because a majority of Vermont voters felt that we needed a break from sweeping changes and the tax and fee increases that came with them.

    A carbon tax is something that may well have merit on a national basis as part of funding for needed infrastructure and environmental improvements or as part of an overall of our national tax system. A stand alone Vermont carbon tax, no matter how well intended, has the same problem of scale and the fact that we do not live in isolation from other states that doomed single payer. Added to that the complexity of a carbon tax, similar to what made Vermont Health Connect a fiasco, makes it a very poor proposal indeed.

    • John Grady

      A national carbon tax will ship more jobs out of the country.

      • John Freitag

        Thanks for the comment John. While I believe that a Vermont carbon tax is a really bad idea, I do think it is worth consideration on a larger nationwide scale. The example of British Columbia is worth further examination where it appears , even to such conservative magazines as the Economist, to have merit and not the negative impact for jobs. Of course as with all legislation the devil is in the details

        • Robert Lehmert

          I tend to agree that an effective carbon tax can only be implemented on a national basis, but I am glad Vermont is having the conversation. We are certainly not the only state contemplating it.

      • Robert Lehmert

        Not really. A national carbon tax would impose a carbon tax on any product entering the US. Anybody who wants access to our markets will be subject to the tax.

  • waltermoses38

    Anyone 24 years or older and paying income/property tax should know enough to beware the claim, “the money will be returned to the taxpayer” by any government.

  • Felicia Scott

    A carbon tax is a bad idea springing from the democrat party of bad ideas. Carbon Dioxide is not a pollutant, it is plant food. Why can’t we have a massive tax on democrats instead? The more dems you have the more tax you pay – oh we already have that.

  • Jason Brisson

    So if you get taxed for producing carbon…do you get a tax credit for planting trees and removing carbon?

    • Robert Lehmert

      Not under this plan. Trees are not carbon negative — merely carbon neutral (which is great, but not the same.)

      • Jason Brisson

        So this plan punishes people, but provides no avenue for them to offset this punishment, even if their good acts support and promote the intended goal.

        • Robert Lehmert

          No, it rewards people by paying them cash to offset the costs, if they so desire.

          • Jason Brisson

            Why take $$ from people, then give it back?! Just let them keep the $$ and cut out all the bureaucracy!

          • Glenn Thompson

            In this case, the bureaucracy will be huge due to the complexity of what the formula would have to be to be fair to everyone. The last I knew, a bureaucracy would be paid for by taxpayers to operate. Where does that money come from?

        • JohnGreenberg

          1) The “avenue for them to offset this punishment” is to use less carbon: i.e. reduce consumption of fossil fuels.

          2) What is the “avenue for them to offset this punishment” from the income tax? the property tax? sales tax?

          • Jason Brisson

            1) Because their way, is the only way. Taxing the bejeezus out of people is the only way to reduce carbon in the atmosphere?

            2) There’s only punishment for carbon. No reward or discount, or benefit for doing anything else that addresses reducing carbon dioxide.

            No real plan beyond “lets do this”, is simply a half thought out band aid fix. A carbon tax in Vermont is a meaningless step to address the issue, while at the federal level our government still provides subsidies to big oil…and the taxpayers are on the hook twice.

          • JohnGreenberg

            ” No reward or discount, or benefit for doing anything else that addresses reducing carbon dioxide.”

            If you mean that these proposals contain nothing, that’s true. If you mean that Vermont doesn’t offer anything, your statement is totally false: Vermont subsidizes clean energy investment, energy efficiency investment, maintaining forests (current use), etc.

          • Jason Brisson

            Yes, these proposals contain nothing, “No reward or discount, or benefit for doing anything else that addresses reducing carbon dioxide.”

  • rosemariejackowski

    If anyone is REALLY concerned about the environment, they would not support the military, The Pentagon is the greatest threat to the environment on the planet. We can’t have it both ways – supporting the military and the F-35, and pretending we care about the planet. That is pure hypocrisy.
    And the problem is not limited to the F-35. Think about all the nuclear waste the military produces.

    • Jason Brisson

      Actually it is the military who says climate change as a national security issue, while our current government does not. It affects their basing and warfighting.
      Yes, the US military should do a better job of managing radioactive waste. However you really should read about the Russians–all the lost nuke subs never recovered, and they have a facility on the arctic circle where they destroy the nuclear propulsion chambers for their nuclear subs–they are the radioactive baddies.

  • Kyle Williams

    I must travel in vastly different circles than these democrats and progressives that have been pushing for this tax for years. I have yet to meet someone who is in favor of this new tax. As far as this tax being pushed as revenue neutral, I don’t know how they could say that with a straight face. What irks me the most is that most of these politicians think they are superior beings that should be able to dictate how the rest of us should live. They use taxes as a social engineering tool, we are merely sheep that need to be herded in the right direction and all will be well.

  • Sierra Klotz

    These bills are an excellent idea. Vermont desperately needs a carbon tax to raise funds and do just a pinch to help conserve this environment that we all share and need. Besides, many of these bills would lower income taxes and help raise funds for affordable housing, something I think we all can get behind.

    • Robert Lehmert

      To be clear, the idea is to distribute the amounts collected back to every eligible person including children. They would not be available for income tax reduction or building affordable housing but an individual can use them for any purpose including paying taxes otherwise due or paying for housing. The idea is to spotlight the real cost of carbon pollution and give people time and funds to adapt.

      • Craig Powers

        Love the sentence you wrote “to every eligible person”. I am not thinking those four legislative sponsors will be even be remotely impartial when they define “every eligible person”.

        • Robert Lehmert

          My guess is that it might be as simple as each social security number listed on a VT tax return. One amount for adults, another for dependent children. I’m sure there are a lot of details to be discussed.

    • Skyler Bailey

      And the tell…many of those who support it do so precisely because it will “raise funds” for “affordable housing” and other pet projects.

  • Dave Bellini

    Why don’t we see a summary of how the taxes are applied?

  • SnoCamo

    I wish there was a way I could vote against these four clowns.

  • Paul Coates

    If the proposed revenue from a so-called ‘carbon tax’ goes to offset cuts in other taxes where is the environmental benefit? Where do you put revenue from this tax to benefit the environment? It’s garbage Pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking.

    • JohnGreenberg

      “where is the environmental benefit?” The tax provides an incentive to consume less carbon, i.e. fossil fuel. Doing so provides enormous environmental benefits, not just in reducing CO2 emissions, but also SO2, NOX, etc.

      Where the revenue is put is an independent question, since the source of the revenue has no bearing on how the money raised is spent.

  • Reading through the 60 comments that have come out in the nine house since this article was published, I am astounded at the hate and vitriol aimed immediately and forcefully at this proposed legislation. Where is this coming from? I can only imagine that there is a group of well-organized people whose purpose is to attack any legislation that might reduce our use of fossil fuels. We know who they are on the national level – the Koch brothers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, John McClaughry’s Heritage Foundation, but who on a state level? The Vermont Fuel Dealers’ Association? They would likely lose substantial revenue if heating oil were taxed. Is there a gasoline dealers’ association in Vermont that is behind these attacks?

    It has always seemed to me that we should tax things that we as a society wish to discourage – pollution, destructive behaviors, unhealthy foods; and support things that we wish to encourage – conscientious small businesses, land preservation, income, clean water. This legislation, in the four different versions that came out today, seems to do exactly that. What’s the big deal? those with the biggest houses and biggest SUV’s will pay the most, and maybe they’ll think differently when they buy their next car.

    My request to the sponsoring legislators is that you think hard about reasonable concerns that people raise about unintended consequences, as you would with all legislation. But a carbon tax has been shown to be the single best thing a society can implement to reduce its contribution to global climate change. Thank you for your leadership, and your courage knowing the backlash that you would receive.

    • Neil Johnson

      The mind set, there couldn’t be any other way than Carbon Tax displays the misplaced righteousness and virtue that is so indicative of the political agenda.

      There are so many ways to improve our environment and reduce fossil fuels, willingly and via market that would be much more productive. Instead lobbyists and political groups fight to get even more control of everyone’s money.

      If people could reduce their fossil fuels to zero, it would give everyone a $5,000 to $10,000 to $20,000 raise every year. People would do that in droves, the poor more so than rich. Yet the tax is the only way? The vitriol is common sense knocking at your door.

      • Jason Brisson

        Right?! Don’t tax locally for carbon when the Feds are still giving subsidies to big oil. You’re making people pay twice!

      • JohnGreenberg

        Who said “there couldn’t be any other way than Carbon Tax?” (other than you, of course). If you think you know “many ways to improve our environment and reduce fossil fuels, willingly and via market that would be much more productive,” then please provide them.

        Until you do, I think the carbon tax makes a whole lot of sense (and agree with those who suggest that it would be best imposed nationally). But since it will not be imposed nationally for at least the next 4 years, we need to look at realistically achievable alternatives.

    • Skyler Bailey

      Mine were among those comments you mention. My issue with it is that all taxes are either levied on the people directly, or levied on businesses and then passed on to the people through increased prices. Vermonters are taxed out. The legislature is trying to squeeze blood from a stone while hurting the people, businesses, and farmers, all in order to pat themselves on the back by pretending that they have made a global impact by possibly reducing by a couple of percentage points the fossil fuel output of one 15,000th of the world’s population.

      I am not a climate denier, but if your goal really is to decrease fossil fuel usage, pragmatism should tell you that the most effective means of doing it will be those which have the greatest effect while being the least onerous on the population. These proposals meet neither of those guidelines. Backlash against wrong-headed, hasty decisions will not only kill your efforts, but your credibility as well.

    • John Freitag

      Hi Tad,
      In response to understanding where some of the strong opinions come from , I would recommend you checking out the book “Two Vermonts : Geography and Identity 1865-1910” by Paul M. Searles. The tension and struggles we are not having are in fact not new and has been a part of our State for a long time and not a recent right wing conspiracy. He describes it as a culture clash between “uphill and downhill” Vermont.
      What is new is the amount of pressure that people in rural Vermont feel from the policies, and the taxes and fees needed to implement them, that have come from Montpelier during the Shumlin Administration. This includes Act 46, commercial wind and poorly sited solar projects, the fiasco known as Vermont Health Connects, and other legislation that seems to be written with just Chittenden County in mind and is putting at risk the Vermont and way of life many of us cherish.
      Thankfully Phil Scott has put a brake on some of this overreach. There are many of us long term Democrats, who in the best of Vermont tradition, are socially liberal but fiscally conservative who appreciate this. We are very wary, until we deal with some of the negative ramifications of already passed laws and making them work better for all Vermonters, of taking on any more well intended sweeping new programs with dubious chances of success and real possibilities of unintended consequences.

      • Dan DeCoteau

        If you are a Democrat, you are responsible for what’s happening to Vermont and part of the problem. Progressives have hijacked your party and the Democrat party of my parents no longer exists!

  • Walter Reilly

    I don’t normally comment on articles but I feel I must as my wife and children fell in love with Vermont after our vacation here last year. We know the cost of living, especially in rural areas of Vermont is very high, compared to southern states. We are both fairly well educated and have jobs that are in demand almost anywhere. When we tried to plan out a move to Vermont we factored in all the expenses that would be needed for a long distance move and calculated expected expenses, such as the cost of buying a home and what it would take to maintain a home beyond the mortgage price. We are mostly looking at older homes on medium sized lots in small towns, 5-15 acres, enough for a small family farm and privacy. The price of the properties we have looked at are reasonable,depending on the region, until the tax burden and cost of heat during winter is added on. Most of the homes we have interest in are heated by fossil fuels and are not well insulated or modern construction, but therefore affordable by price or within our incomes. Adding the cost of heating and property tax to the equation, we are on the edge of affordability, and we cannot afford to gamble away what we have already achieved in order to live in Vermont. Now this carbon tax thing has put a nail in the coffin as to the risk I am willing to accept. My wife and kids are upset, but if we lost everything they would be more upset. Goodbye Vermont dreams.

    • Robert Lehmert

      Walter – A carbon tax would most likely benefit you because it would provide income that would finance sealing your house against the weather. Also keep in mind that firewood and pellets would be exempt, because they are carbon-neutral. Putting that aside for the moment, you might be able to sharply reduce the cost of heating/cooling immediately with existing programs offered through Efficiency Vermont. We contacted them and had a “blower door” test done which revealed air leaks and infiltration. These were sealed up with foam and we insulated the attic to R38. We bought cellular blinds for the windows to stop radiant heat from escaping, and installed a storm door. Our home is amazingly comfortable and heat costs a fraction of what it used to. There may be incentives available for you through Efficiency Vermont and you can finance at favor terms through a number of banks and credit unions. Don’t give up. We need more new folks who can upgrade a hundred year old house for another generation.

      • Glenn Thompson

        “Also keep in mind that firewood and pellets would be exempt, because they are carbon-neutral.”

        Who is fooling who here? Burning wood is anything but carbon neutral.

        https://www.nrdc.org/experts/sasha-stashwick/will-europe-stop-trashing-us-forests-name-bioenergy

        • Robert Lehmert

          The article states that it is addressing the harvesting of large diameter trees specifically for fuel. That is wasteful, but unnecessary. There is plenty of forestry biproducts, fallen wood and dead trees. All of this are on their way to decomposition anyway. Obviously the taking of live trees is not in the same class nor is it economic.

          • Glenn Thompson

            Then why haven’t they been doing it right along? Most likely due to it being much easier and cheaper to cut down large dia. trees than it is to pick up fallen wood and dead trees.

            What I’m challenging here is the claim that burning wood is “carbon neutral”. It is not. Burning wood creates CO2 emissions does it not? Isn’t that what we are attempting to get away from?

            Here is another article that proves my point!

            https://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/22/flawed-carbon-accounting-drives-boom-in-burning-u-s-forests-in-e-u-power-plants/

          • bill_christian

            See my comments above.

          • Robert Lehmert

            Ditto, Bill. Tnx.

          • Glenn Thompson

            Read my links and others that state the same thing. What happens when you cut down more trees and there isn’t enough trees to absorb the CO2?

            You guys are astonishing at times. Environmentalists for years have been complaining about the clear cutting of the Amazon Rainforest stating the fact, the rainforest is the ‘Lungs of the Earth’. Yet, we hear no squawking about cutting down vast amounts of Hardwoods in the USA due to the foolishness that somehow it will cut down on the overall amount of CO2 produced.

            The foolish energy policies being pushed by many is the equivalent of running on a treadmill. We go nowheres.

            Here is another example.

            “Because of a loophole, the European Union classifies this wood-generated electricity as “carbon neutral,” though research actually indicates it’s more environmentally dangerous in the short term.”

            http://www.businessinsider.com/europe-imports-wood-biomass-from-us-for-power-2015-12

        • bill_christian

          Burn a tree, release the carbon. It grows back by taking every single pound of carbon right back out of the air to make the wood again. Re-cycle forever, no long-term change in atmospheric CO2. As long as you harvest at the same rate it grows. At present, we also use 5 to 15% oil to cut and move the wood, but that is not necessary. They used to do it all with horses and “man’s work”. But wood could also be harvested with renewable electric power.

      • Walter Reilly

        Thanks for the ideas. If we move, we will move somewhere that doesn’t have all the schemes created by the government that would give us free money. My wife and I are a bit libertarian, but socially liberal, and above all fiscally conservative. I do not have time to find all the loopholes in home financing in order to live in your state, my apologies. Maine is a nice state too, we drove through part of it and it looked just like VT, only a fair bit less expensive. Northern New Hampshire was great too, and no sales tax! The more I learn about VT, and it’s political desires, the less I like it. We’ll end up where we belong, and sorry, but VT? doesn’t seem to be it.

        • Dan DeCoteau

          And that is the same feeling many of us here also have. Born and raised here and now in semi-retirement I’m thinking that I may have to leave the state I love. I can’t take much more of the legislative insanity nor can I support or afford it!

          • bill_christian

            The main reason you can’t afford it is that our fiscal system gives all the profit to the top 1%. In the 1950’s, a very rich person paid a lot of taxes. Corporations didn’t pay their CEOs hundreds of millions of dollars a year because that’s crazy. And the average worker made a decent wage because of union power and social norms. Now, a CEO is given millions for his skill at breaking unions and getting subsidies to send jobs overseas. It is not the “libtards” that shifted business and industry profits from the workers to the 1%. It is the Republican party, who are laughing at the poor fools that actually believed that the 1% that is running the Trump administration gives one little tiny hoot for the American worker.

        • bill_christian

          I’m libertarian. And I understand climate science, and I understand the limits of natural resources. And I believe that the most important thing, by far, is to leave our children better off than we were, as our parents and grandparents did for us. That’s why I passionately support a carbon tax. It is libertarian. Puts a price on doing damage. Leaves the method of reducing damage up to each of us.

          • Dan DeCoteau

            You must have a different understanding and mission of the Libertarian party than I do. I have always thought that Libertarians are for less government and more freedom as well as individual choice. Creating more government bureaucracy for the purpose of more taxation, less freedom and individualism is the last thing Vermont needs at this point. We need serious cuts in the government’s overall intrusion into our lives to enable it to do the basics like corrections, infrastructure and the general safety of it’s citizens. The opiate problem and paying people to lay around on generous benefits needs to be dealt with. Instead we get climate change and racial justice laws. The climate is going to change and there is nothing politicians here can do about it except feel good about their socialist ideology and their arrogance of believing that they are healing the planet from an area less than the tip of a pin on the earth’s surface.

          • Matt Young

            You’re a libertarian? Hello, I’m Santa Clause

  • Peter Everett

    Next thing they’ll come up with is a Flatulance tax!!! What the heck, they tax everything else that pollutes the atmosphere, why not this? 8 billion people creates so much gas. They can require us to wear a gas meter to determine how much we pay.

  • Mark Wells

    At what point do these people in Montpelier reach maximum capacity for dysfunction ?

    • Skyler Bailey

      I think the election of Gov. Scott is a clear sign that they already have.

  • Christopher Hamilton

    Ok, so you pay a tax. It is received by the government. Temporarily, at least, it’s now their money.
    The legislature could then, possibly, return it to you. OR, they could find a better use for it, spend it, and explain their original idea didn’t work.

    There is some merit to this idea but the details need to see the bright light of day.
    Somehow the legislature has to find a way to keep cash in the pockets of low income commuters/small businesses without making them wait months for potential relief.
    Who picks the winners and losers, here?

    • bill_christian

      The government does NOT pick the winners and losers. That’s one great thing about a revenue-neutral carbon pollution tax. Gasoline costs more so people figure out how to use less. The government isn’t giving a rebate for a new electric car. You can choose to go electric, or car pool, or work from home, or get a little used car. Whatever works for you. But bottom line, we HAVE to burn less gas, and this pushes us to do it. It is the right thing to do. We must do it or we utterly fail our children, and that would not be right.

  • Peter Everett

    If this tax is “revenue neutral” why is it needed? I don’t think I believe the politicians on this one. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”.

  • Peter Everett

    Why not just get it over already! Those in power want to tax residents all they can. Just tax everything we earn, then give us those “dividends” they talk about. Those in power want a Socialist state, so just do it and get it over with. Then, you will finally realize what you want…the least populated state in the country.
    Where do these people come up with these ideas. Never has a government permantly reduced taxes. Time for binding referendums that allows the voters to over rule many things politicians conceive to make life even more difficult for those they represent. Time to realize that our government no longer works for the people. Time to change what is going on. This is no longer a government that works for the people. It’s backwards…people work for the government. Is that what the majority want? Unfortunately, I think it may be the case. Truly sad.

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