Duval Picks Up Moore’s Envelope, Rips It To Shreds, Flings Pieces Into the Air

The storm clouds are gathering. The forces are assembling. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the Scott administration is going to war against the Vermont Climate Council and any progressive climate legislation that the Statehouse majority might send to the governor’s desk.

Last week, we saw Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore give a “back-of-the-envelope” guesstimate of the short-term costs of S.5, the Affordable Heat Act, which she herself acknowledged was probably inaccurate. Then, on Tuesday, there was an unusually aggressive riposte by Jared Duval, a member of the Climate Council. Duval pretty much ripped Moore’s testimony to little tiny bits. (Video of the hearing is here starting at the 1:40 mark; his written testimony can be downloaded here.)

Duval submitted a lengthy, detailed written statement that destroyed Moore’s testimony line by line and concluded that it was “inappropriately selective, improperly done, and deeply misleading.”

No punches pulled, then.

At the beginning of his testimony, Duval laid down a marker: “Up front, I want to be clear that the Secretary was not presenting analysis commissioned by or reviewed by the Climate Council.” He added that “an independent, professional analysis” commissioned jointly by the Climate Council and Moore’s own agency was at odds with the estimation Moore delivered to the Senate panel.

For the record, Moore herself is a member of the Climate Council. And according to Duval, she did not share her own estimation with the Council before putting it in the legislative record.

To sum up, Moore ignored the professional analysis commissioned by her own agency and the Climate Council and went behind the Council’s back to deliver her own testimony on an issue that’s properly in the remit of the Council.

That reveals the administration’s complete lack of trust in, and coordination with, the Council. Which, need I remind you, is the entity responsible for developing climate policy under state law.

Sure, the governor didn’t like the law and did his best to block it. But he failed, and now he has to deal with it. Recent evidence suggests that we;re headed for a direct confrontation between administration on one side, and Council and Legislature on the other.

Remind me again how Governor Scott is a nice guy.

Duval also took a swipe at Moore, referring to “the responsibility that policy analysts and modelers have”… “to inform decision makers and illuminate policy
issues, to the best of our ability, drawing on the most up to date, accurate, and complete data and information at hand.”

He did not need to specify that this was exactly what Moore failed to do.

Then, the details. Moore focused entirely on cost and put all the costs up front, ignoring amortization. Duval asserted that Moore made an “unreasonably high” estimate of what kind of incentives woudl be required to advance homeowner investments. That combination itself, Duval said, resulted in a cost estimate that was 20 to 28 times too high.

Moore also seems to have assumed a cold start to the process. Duval noted that weatherization and conversion to renewables is already well underway, and that much of the needed activity “would happen as a matter of course.”

Moore’s assumptions fed into her estimate that the Affordable Heat Act would drive up fuel prices by 70 cents a gallon. Duval says the actual cost increase would be much smaller.

Duval points out that Moore didn’t allow for the inevitable economies of scale driving down the cost of renewable technology as demand grows. Also, her estimate of “long-term” savings ends at the year 2030, when in fact the savings would continue to compound well beyond that.

In short, Moore didn’t just put a thumb on the scale. She put all the thumbs on the scale.

The next meeting of the Climate Council ought to be interesting. If, that is, Moore dares to show up.

It seems unlikely that Moore’s testimony had much effect on the Senate committee. I hope not, anyway. She did get one benefit from her appearance: VTDigger ran a story trumpeting her cost estimate, while it failed to cover Duval’s counterpoint. That leaves her [faulty, inaccurate, inflated] testimony essentially unchallenged in the media.

Maybe at some point Digger will delve into the growing administration/Council divide, and give equal space to both sides of the argument. So far, it’s only presented the administration’s version.


2 thoughts on “Duval Picks Up Moore’s Envelope, Rips It To Shreds, Flings Pieces Into the Air

  1. Brenna Galdenzi

    Why is it that environmental advocates and wildlife advocates are continually left having to hold the Agency of Natural Resources (Sec. Julie Moore) and the VT Fish & Wildlife Dept (Commissioner Christopher Herrick), respectively, accountable to being factual and ethical?

    I cannot tell you how many times Fish and Wildlife has cherry picked stats to advance their agenda or worse, manipulated or withheld data when presenting to the public or the legislature.

    I think Jared Duval did a commendable job stating his case on the affordable heat act and holding those in power accountable. Well done, I feel your pain.


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