February 15, 2017

Vermont Considers De Facto Carbon Tax


Political observers and energy experts in Vermont say that a bill introduced in the Vermont Senate last week amounts to a carbon tax.

The bill, S.66, is billed as “a cap and trade program for greenhouse gas emissions,” but Vermont Watchdog reports that at least one observer considers it “essentially the carbon tax by another name”:

“The cap-and-trade bill … is essentially the carbon tax by another name,” said Matt Cota, director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association. “That’s going to draw the most fire coming up in the next few weeks or so.”

Prospects for an explicit carbon tax bill were highly uncertain during the first weeks of the session, but S.66, the cap-and-trade bill introduced last week, may introduce similar requirements.

The bill, authored by state Sen. Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden), “requires that every truck entering Vermont would be forced to contribute to a fund for Efficiency Vermont.”

This would no doubt have an impact on interstate commerce, with trucks coming into and through Vermont delivering goods around New England and New York. Of course, if trucks and the companies that own them have to pay to enter Vermont, consumers in the state may have to pay more for goods and services.

An associate professor at the University of Vermont interviewed by Vermont Watchdog, confirms as much:

[Professor Art] Woolf said that whether it is mandating more renewables or putting a tax on carbon-based energy, the end result is a higher cost of living for Vermonters.

“It would make heating our homes more expensive, it would make driving our cars more expensive, it would make turning on lights more expensive, so it would make the energy to accomplish the goals that we need more expensive,” he said.

Time will tell if any popular opposition to this costly bill will deter environmentalists in Vermont.