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Vermont Climate Action Plan Passed, Buyer Beware!

3 December 2021

The Vermont Climate Council passed an Action Plan on Wednesday by a vote of 19-4. The 273-page plan is part of the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act which requires greenhouse gas emissions drop 26% by 2025 and 40% by the end of the decade. These are not goals, these are mandates and failure to meet these mandates is a violation of the Global Warming Solutions Act. 

The thermal strategy is to ensure buildings use less energy while heating with more electricity. This means that 90,000 homes will need to be weatherized by the end of the decade-an increase of about 200%. The plan also requires a new “net zero” building code for new construction, efficiency standards for rental properties, and electric-only water heaters with modular demand response communication so the UTILITY companies can remotely control the water temperature. Also included in the plan is the creation of a Clean Heat Standard to incentivize heating companies to reduce their customer’s carbon emissions. Selling renewable liquid fuels, pellet stoves, and heat pumps would generate credits that fossil fuel wholesalers would be required to purchase. 

As far as transportation goes, the plan uses incentives, taxes, and regulations to "persuade" Vermonters to buy and drive electric cars. By 2030, in order to meet the emission reduction mandates, 170,000 electric vehicles will need to replace gas-run vehicles. This is an increase of nearly 4000%. The plan allows for this by banning the sale of new combustion engine vehicles by 2035, giving cash incentives for electric vehicles and more fees to those who drive vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel. Additionally, even though MA, RI and CT have abandoned the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), VT has not. The plan calls on lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow the state to join the cap and trade program if it comes to fruition. 

Governor Scott’s Administration released a signed statement disagreeing with many aspects of the plan. In the statement, Governor Scott said he “cannot support proposals which impose a fiscal commitment beyond the means of most Vermonters.”  The electric stoves, cars, and heating systems that must be purchased in order to comply with the Global Warming Solution Act represent billions of dollars of new purchases. The Vermont legislature will pick up where the Climate Council left off in determining who pays the bill. The Legislature will start that process in January.  NEHPBA will keep you updated!

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