Letter
January 15, 2016

VPIRG discredited carbon tax petition drive

Dear Editor,

We would like to bring to your attention some concerns we have with a petition drive by Energy Independent Vermont and VPIRG (Vermont Public Interest Research Group), that took place in the summer of 2015. The group that was canvassing towns were asking folks to support a statement on post cards that would be sent to their State Representative, while also soliciting money for VPIRG. Among other things the postcards stated, “I urge you to take action by putting a price on carbon pollution and creating an Energy Independence Fund to help us save money, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and create jobs.”

Not knowing what exactly was said regarding a carbon tax to our constituents, makes it hard to respond.

However, if you would like to see how complicated a carbon tax might be, please look at the proposed Legislation H.412: http://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2016/Docs/BILLS/H-0412/H-0412%20As%20Introduced.pdf

The letter that accompanied the postcards stated,”On behalf of Energy Independent Vermont, please find enclosed postcards signed by your constituents calling for bold action on global warming.” These postcards were not signed and there wasn’t a designated place for a signature. Important because, after making many calls to folks on the cards that had phone numbers recorded, we found a disturbing number of folks that had no idea what we were talking about. Many had concerns that their name, phone number and address had been used. Others were Canadian citizens and some had no phone number or address. As Legislators, we are inundated with information and surveys on different topics from lobbyists and advocacy groups. We do our best to assess the accuracy and intent of the information and how it will affect our constituents when proposing or debating legislation. A petition drive such as this, after finding so many of our constituents not knowing about it, not approving of the intent and not allowing their names to be used, in our minds has been discredited. Because this petition has been discredited by us, we feel VPIRG and other groups should not be using the petition numbers to promote their legislative agenda. At the least, the legitimacy of the folks that may approve of such a concept has been lost with our findings.

While VPIRG and the groups that make up Energy Independent Vermont have the  resources to pay for such a canvassing campaign in our neighborhoods, they must also have the social responsibility to see that their compiled data is accurate.

Sincerely,

Rep. Mark Higley and Rep. Larry Fiske.

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1 Comment

  • The accusations made by these representatives undermine the democratic nature of petitioning as a civil right. VPIRG’s intent is not to sabotage the legislative process, but to educate the community and our legislators on key energy- and environment-related issues through the use of grassroots democracy. I support VPIRG and Energy Independent Vermont because they are working toward a cleaner, greener Vermont where we are held accountable for our carbon emissions.

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