On the heels of the Senate Natural Resources Committee passing S.5, Campaign for Vermont responded with a policy brief directed at state lawmakers explaining why this policy doesn't make sense.
While fossil fuels remain highly problematic, well intended solutions often do not always consider the full range of ramifications and impacts of policy change. That is the case here. Lawmakers have heard clearly that there are serious concerns about the current viability of alternative heating sources, equity protections for marginalized communities, the cost to low-income and rural Vermonters. Perhaps most concerning is the cost shift that is likely to occur for Vermonters in rural parts of the state that do not have access to the natural gas pipeline in the northwest part of the state. Heating oil has increased 167% in the last three years and the carbon pricing scheme included in S.5 would raise that cost another $0.70 or so according to the Administration.
Further, there is a real risk that if we force this energy transition now it may actually move us backwards on our net climate emissions. Vermont is still to heavily reliant on fossil fuel generated electricity and, with the looming increase in power requirements from the transportation sector, it is difficult to see this changing in the near-term. More careful analysis is needed to ensure this is not the case and that Vermonters receive the greatest carbon reduction for the $1.2B in spending contemplated by this bill over the next several years.
Campaign for Vermont called on lawmakers to rethink their policy approach to reducing carbon emissions from home heating. There are a number of things that we could do, both in the short and long-term, to reduce or offset carbon emissions from home heating systems. We outline some of these in the policy brief we released today.
The best public policies are those that thoughtfully balance the needs of multiple stakeholders. This bill misses the mark.