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Key Democratic Lawmakers Skeptical of Carbon Tax

Vermont Public Radio

A growing number of climate advocates say increasing the price of fossil fuels is the surest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but leaders in the House and Senate are resisting calls for a carbon tax in Vermont.

During the last two legislative sessions, lawmakers introduced several bills that would have assessed a new tax on carbon-emitting fossil fuels. Last week, on the opening day of the legislative session, 40 or so people rallied in the Statehouse cafeteria against a carbon tax.

“I set the rally up to put the legislators under the Golden Dome on notice: This will not be a solitary event. We will continue to return here. And our numbers will grow,” said the rally’s organizer, JT Dodge of Newbury.

The reality, however, is that Dodge and his compatriots might not have much to fight  this year.

The Democratic leaders in the House and Senate say they are skeptical of a carbon tax bill. And even if lawmakers introduce one this year, it’s hard to imagine it’ll make it very far.

“Where the carbon tax is concerned overall, I haven’t seen a proposal that does what it’s designed to do, in terms of curbing fossil fuel, while still be realistic in terms of lower-income Vermonters,” says House Speaker Mitzi Johnson.

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe says based on research he’s seen, he isn’t convinced a state-level carbon tax would even work.

“The price will not impact behavior to the extent that many interest groups believe it will,” Ashe says.

If elected officials did pass a state-level carbon tax, Ashe says there’s a chance that “all you’ve done now is increase the cost of living for rural Vermonters.”