The executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group today challenged the Chairman of the Vermont Republican Party to a debate over the merits of policies leading to energy independence and climate solutions for Vermont.
On Wednesday, Chairman David Sunderland issued a press release on behalf of the Republicans in which he mischaracterized a proposal now under consideration in the legislature that would create an Energy Independence Fund for Vermont. This fund would make it possible for many more Vermonters to take advantage of energy solutions (such as home weatherization, efficient air source heat pumps, rooftop solar and higher mileage vehicles) that save money and cut carbon pollution.
To fund this money-saving program, Vermont would finally hold polluters accountable by putting an end to the fossil fuel companies’ practice of using our atmosphere as their dumping ground for free. Instead, oil and gas companies would pay a tax based on the global warming impact of their pollution.
In his press release, Sunderland not only neglected to mention the importance of making money-saving clean energy choices available to more Vermonters, he also misled the public by failing to disclose that the proposal would also lead to massive tax cuts for both businesses and individuals.
“Mr. Sunderland claims that in the coming weeks and months he wants to engage Vermonters in a discussion around this proposal and matters of fiscal responsibility,” said VPIRG’s Paul Burns. “Let’s do it. I challenge you to defend your fear mongering in a public debate.”
VPIRG is part of Energy Independent Vermont, a large coalition of groups, businesses, low-income advocates and individuals supporting a price on carbon pollution in Vermont.
An in-depth economic analysis conducted by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) found that a tax on carbon pollution, when paired with major tax cuts elsewhere and investments in efficiency and clean energy would be an economic driver in Vermont. Indeed, the Province of British Columbia in Canada and a number of other nations around the world have had great success with similar programs.
“We can reduce pollution in Vermont while raising resident incomes by $135 million over ten years and creating thousands of new jobs,” said Burns. “Mr. Sunderland has no evidence to support the false claims he made in his statement yesterday. But if he’s serious about wanting to discuss this with the public, then I challenge him to do so. Let’s debate this in a public way and we’ll see who’s really standing up for Vermonters, and who’s protecting the interests of the fossil fuel industry.”