Published in News and Citizen 4-14-15

Staying Warm is a Sin?

Spring fever seems to have hit Montpelier in a big way.  They didn't even have to wait for the temperatures to rise to forget how cold it can get in winter and more importantly how costly it can be to heat your home.
    There are a few bills making their rounds in Montpelier that would significantly raise the taxes on heating fuels.  A fact sheet has recently been distributed by Bourne's Energy customers warning of taxes that would add a tax of $1.02 per gallon to the cost of heating oil and 57 cents per gallon of propane if  H.395 and H. 412 were to pass.  The gas/diesel tax would also about double up to $1.07 a gallon.  Another bill H.287 wants to increase the gross receipts tax raising the price of heating fuels up another six cents per gallon.
    Since last November, we have heard how the Democrats, led by Governor Peter Shumlin, have accepted a “no new taxes” mantra.  They have justified moves like the soda tax as a kind of sin tax to help keep people healthier.  Apparently heating your home to make sure you don't freeze to death is a sin as well.
    Recently I read something talking about how the increase of people burning wood in Vermont has risen so much lately that it is adding to the carbon emissions significantly. Supposedly these new taxes are about the carbon emissions, so how will tax assessors in the future know how many sticks of wood I burned.  Will they simply put a huge tax on the cost of axes and chainsaws? Will they make cutting your own wood illegal and require us to purchase it from dealers who can be taxed?
    Rather, I have a simple explanation for Montpelier.  How about if we tax people who do not have their pipes freeze in the winter.  Obviously, based on the thoughts prevailing in Montpelier if you are warming your house enough to keep your pipes from freezing, you are probably using too much fuel.