In a year when the effects of climate change have become undeniable (the latest example being the extreme flooding in British Columbia), a New England multistate compact to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation has officially collapsed.
And I’d like to pause here and thank Gov. Phil Scott for his part in killing the once-promising Transportation and Climate Initiative.
TCI, proposed by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, is dead. Baker pulled the plug yesterday because no other New England state had committed to the compact, which rendered it null and void. The last straw was the withdrawal of Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, who said TCI was “a pretty tough rock to push when gas prices are so high.”
Yeah, we’re screwed. If gas prices in the low to mid $3.00 range are enough to kill a significant emission reduction initiative, we’re never going to slow the onrush of climate change. Even when our rational minds know full well that paying more thank three bucks a gallon is pocket change compared to the costs of global warming — such as repairing the highway washout pictured above, which is one of dozens now facing British Columbia.
Our governor didn’t pound the final nail in TCI’s coffin, but he did more than his share to make sure it never came to life. Remember that the next time you see images from Vermont like the B.C. washout seen above.
It’s bad enough that Gov. Phil Scott offered an “olive branch” that put every local elected official in the crosshairs of the masking debate. It’s bad enough that he can shirk all responsibility because hey, he offered a proposal! It’s bad enough that legislative leaders fell for his little trap, which means a special session on Monday for the sole purpose of passing a bill strictly adhering to his demands. It’s bad enough that the House will have to meet in person, subjecting its many elders — and parents with young children — to coronavirus exposure. It’s bad enough that we’ll spend $50,000 or more for the special session.
But you know the topper on this shit sandwich? It’s completely unnecessary.
This was brought to my attention through Robert Oeser’s Twitter feed, so full credit to him. Oeser pointed out that there is already a law on the books that allows communities to enact their own, purely local mask mandates. Specifically, this passage from 18 V.S.A. § 613:
(a) A local board of health may make and enforce rules in such town or city relating to the prevention, removal, or destruction of public health hazards and the mitigation of public health risks, provided that such rules have been approved by the Commissioner. Such rules shall be posted and published in the same manner that ordinances of the municipality are required to be posted and published.
See, it’s already there. Scott’s version is essentially the same. So why all the folderol? Why all the travel and the expense of a special session?
Because Scott is, once again, ducking responsibility.