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March 21, 2022

Dear Vermont Legislature,

Have you noticed that there are both severe inflation and a war going on?

Last year when you passed the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) over the Governor’s veto, you thought that we needed higher prices for fossil fuels to save the planet. After all, home heating oil was only $2.77/gallon then and people weren’t hurrying to buy air-source heat pumps. Now, this week, home heating oil is $4.81/gallon. Shouldn’t you declare “mission accomplished” and try to protect Vermonters from the further price increases which are likely to come?

You seem to be going in the wrong direction. Last week the House gave preliminary approval to the “Clean Heat Standard”, legislation which, no matter what else it does, deliberately raises the cost of delivering heating oil and propane to Vermonters. Don’t you think a near doubling of prices in a year is enough? Are the heat pumps you want people to install so inefficient that a doubling of fuel oil prices won’t result in their adoption?

Part of your prescription for reducing Vermont’s carbon footprint is continued subsidies for electric cars. Over that last year, the average price of gasoline here has gone from $2.72 to $4.34/gallon. Isn’t that incentive enough? Apparently, it is because electric cars are driving off the lot faster than dealers can replenish them. The incentives paid by Vermont utilities for buying electric cars are now counter-productive to the goal of getting people to switch from fossil fuel to electricity because, since they are actually paid by electric ratepayers, they INCREASE the cost of electricity. BTW, the price of natural gas which generates 53% of the electricity here in New England has gone up 93% in the past year. We will soon see that reflected in much higher electric rates. Are you sure you want to drive those rates even higher with unneeded subsidies?

In your defense, the world has changed very fast. Even if all the assumptions you used when you passed the GWSA were correct then, the world has changed in ways few of us imagined. Turns out that printing too much government money actually does lead to inflation. Turns out that discouraging US fossil fuel production actually leads to less energy availability. You certainly can’t be blamed for the effects of Putin’s war and the effect on world fuel prices of Europe’s over-dependence on Russia as a supplier.

Inflation, low US fossil-fuel production, and this terrible war are all facts now. Please take them into account – starting now. Stop work on GWSA at least until the fog of war is cleared. Look at the effect of already higher fossil fuel prices on Vermonters and consider very carefully whether those prices already provide the incentives you were looking for to switch from these fuels that. The world is changing at an alarming rate. We need a People’s Legislature which sees the world as it is and is willing to change as quickly as the world turns.

Thank you.

See also: Subsidizing Electric Cars Might Even Hurt the Environment

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