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Mixed Reaction To Mayors’ Call For Carbon Pollution Fee


At the annual Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network meeting, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger called for the state to pass a revenue-neutral Carbon Pollution Fee. To reinforce the urgency to take action he also announced the formation of a coalition of mayors in the Northeast that will advocate for implementation of a pollution pricing system.
The Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network is composed of more than 100 town energy committees and supporting organizations.  The theme for its annual conference Dec. 1 was “Mobilizing Leadership to Make Bold Progress.”  Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, a third-term Democrat, told those gathered that it is time for the state to take bold action and become the first state to implement a Carbon Pollution Fee.  “I am here to call on Vermont to lead America forward by becoming the first state in the country to establish a revenue neutral Vermont carbon pollution fee. The road ahead will be harder if we act alone so in addition to that position I’m also announcing today the Northeast Mayors for Carbon Pollution Pricing  to advocate for carbon pollution fees in state legislatures around the region.”

There are currently seven mayors from New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont participating in the fledgling organization.  Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson points to the recent IPCC and U.S. federal report on climate change as calls to action.  “Now really is the time for us to be making a broad legislative changes. I think it’s really going to take an act of legislation to make the kind of changes that are necessary in terms of our carbon emissions. And some kind of a carbon tax as well as other measures I think are going to be the most expedient way to get there.”

Weinberger said while there are a variety of ideas how to reduce carbon pollution, cities and states often begin necessary actions.  “Although the problem of climate change is international in scope we are at a moment in America today where urgent action is required at the state and local level. Two: a state carbon pollution fee is the most transparent, comprehensive, and simple policy intervention we can make. Three: a Vermont carbon pollution fee should be implemented in a manner that is equitable, effective and pro-economic growth. Four: a properly designed carbon pollution fee will create Vermont jobs and protect the economy. And five this is a battle we can win.”  

The mayor’s suggestion is praised by Vermont environmental advocates who have been trying to move carbon tax legislation through the Legislature since 2014.  Vermont Natural Resources Council Energy Program Director Johanna Miller is pleased that the mayors are stepping up.  “If we get more cities on board as a region, the region of the Northeast, New England can do a lot. We’ve seen that in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative where’s there’s obviously a regional effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the electric sector. That’s a state level effort. But if cities are calling for acting on climate I think it could help to put pressure on states to lead.”

The Ethan Allen Institute is a conservative think tank.  In a March column, Vice President John McClaughry wrote “…no Vermont carbon tax…will ever produce any detectable effect on climate change…”  He believes Mayor Weinberger’s plan is a tax that won’t affect the climate.  “Somehow the climate activists have gotten the idea that if you dramatically reduced carbon dioxide emissions from human sources it will have a predictable downward impact on temperature rise by the end of this next century. And the more you look at it the more foolish this gets. But it’s very fashionable now for progressives like Mayor Weinberger to impose a carbon tax.”  

Audio of Mayor Miro Weinberger’s remarks at the VECAN conference is courtesy of the mayor’s Facebook page. Mayor Weinberger is attending the Aspen Institute in Colorado and was unavailable for comment in time for broadcast.

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