Montpelier, VT – Amid controversy surrounding Vermont’s critical 2023 climate bill, Republican lawmakers gathered at the Statehouse on Wednesday to denounce the Affordable Heat Act, just a day before the House vote.
The Affordable Heat Act officially passed through the senate over a month ago, and various house committees have done work on it in recent weeks.
Lawmakers from both parties remain deadlocked on the impact of the bill on Vermonters’ finances and the environment, with little change over time.
The act would implement a complex carbon credit system if passed, aiming to have people move away from oil, gas, kerosene and propane heating systems.
But it was amended to wait a year for Vermont’s Public Utility Commission to perform a study that would evaluate the cost and impact the legislation will have on Vermont residents.
Republicans argue that it’s a glorified carbon tax that Vermonters won’t be able to afford, and say it is irresponsible for the administration to not have involvement in the study.
Despite the administration appointing two of the PUC’s leaders, and most on the Democratic side say it could end volatility with heating bills, and help the state hit climate goals.
“We’re going to do a complete study first. Develop a plan, and that plan will come back from the Public Utility Commission for the next legislature to review,” said Christopher Bray.
“The administration is not even in this bill. We need a full-borne, all hands-in, legislative, administrative effort. Vermonters need a break, and this isn’t going to give it to them,” said State Rep. Patty McCoy.
Vermont is currently last in the country in carbon emission rates, even behind Puerto Rico, and Republicans say the system would alienate local fuel dealers who would be at the mercy of larger corporations, despite already being on board with installing systems that will help reduce emissions.
But their counterparts say they will have to make the shift one way or the other, and this is streamlining the process.
The bill is set to hit the house floor tomorrow for a very crucial vote. If they decide to pass it, it will hit the governor’s desk, who has previously stated that he would not support the bill.