Entergy, the huge New Orleans power corporation that owns our state's only nuke plant, could not have a better spokesman in Vermont than the one who strode before the TV cameras and radio microphones at the Statehouse Thursday.
The articulate and loquacious smoothie ridiculed the Democrats’ latest proposal to pay for Vermont’s fight to slow Global Warming by taxing either Entergy’s windfall profits or the growing amount of deadly nuclear waste stored on its Vernon, Vermont site. Those buckeroos - about $35 million over the last five years of VT Yankee's operating license - would bankroll a new state-run energy efficiency utility dedicated to reducing Vermonters energy use by boosting renewables and dramatically increasing energy efficiency.
Entergy did not have to hire its new Vermont spokesman. He’s already getting a paycheck - from the State of Vermont. His name is James Douglas. He lives in MIddlebury, and he’s our governor!
Here’s an excerpt of Gov. Smoothie’s remarks on the matter from his weekly presser under the golden dome:
DOUGLAS: It’s another example of Democrats in the legislature proposing a new tax. It seems every few weeks they come up with a new tax idea, whether it’s the transfer of homes, gasoline or home-heating fuel or large vehicles, mini-vans, now it’s the Yankee Power Plant. They come up with more ideas to tax Vermonters and entities in our state that I think is quite disconcerting, because as you know, we’re the most heavily taxed state in America according to both the Census Bureau and the Tax Foundation.
This would fund some new bureaucracy to help Vermonters conserve, and I certainly want Vermonters to conserve...but I think there’s a lot more work to be done before embracing some new tax and new bureaucracy.
Press: As you know, Sen. Peter Shumlin [right] at his Monday press conference accused you, and if he were here now would probably say that in the last five minutes you’ve done an excellent job, as you always do, of "talking the talk,” but you have not "walked the walk."
Things are getting very serious on global warming. He says we only have 10 years. We have to take serious steps, serious action. Just filing lawsuits here and there isn’t enough anymore.
You still haven’t told us how you would fund the program.
You never give a suggestion on the funding side?
DOUGLAS: Well, because, Peter, We don’t have a system where each program of state government is funded by a discreet source. We have a budget, a large multibillion dollar appropriation every year from several sources that funds all the many programs of state government. So it’s not a matter of finding a new source of money for each new program, it’s a matter of establishing some priorities, making decisions and fitting it in to our resources.
PRESS: I wonder if I can characterize your position on this and you tell me if I have it right or wrong. You have lukewarm support for the bill, but you would not support ANY taxing source for it?
DOUGLAS: Well, I certainly don’t see the need for any taxing source. And let me cycle back, at the risk of sounding too defensive, and offer more of an answer to Peter’s question.
I don’t accept the notion that I’m not “walking the walk.”
I saw a bunch of folks from special-interest groups holding a press conference out in front of the Federal Building (in Burlington) a week or two ago in connection with the lawsuit there (U.S. automakers are suing Vermont for adopting tougher tailpipe emission standards).
That was my administration that adopted the tough California auto-emission standards. That wasn’t the legislature. That wasn’t some special interest group. That was my administration that adopted those tough standards that are being challenged.
The defendant in the lawsuit is George Crombie, the secretary of Natural Resources. That was my decision. My walk!
That and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative the other lawsuits that I’ve initiated, the savings we’re achieving in state government. The Climate Change Commission that has objectives for reducing emissions that are very similar to some of the ones that I’ve heard being discussed by private organizations, was my initiative and I feel very good about the steps I’ve taken.
There are a lot of companies who’ve done well and we’re pleased that they do. It just seems to me we don’t need to keep thinking about new ways to tax Vermonters and Vermont companies when we’re trying to improve the prospects for our economic future to attract more investment and capital here. These Democratic lawmakers just keep thinking of more taxes and that’s not what we need when we’re #1 in America.
Next year we'll spend about $4.7 billion in Vermont. I think we can find some resources within that very large amount of money without some new tax if this is a priority.
He's good isn't he?
Entergy's damn lucky to have him.
Nobody around here "talks the talk" any better than Jim Douglas.
That may, in part, explain why King James, a Republican serving his third term as governor, remains an almost prohibitive favorite to win a fourth term in 2008.
Vermont Democrats want to "walk the walk." Good for them!
But they'll need to improve their "talking" skills before they'll ever achieve that goal.