A recent AP story from Montpelier described a legislative hearing on the Governor's thermal efficiency task force proposals. The centerpiece of the presentation was a new 12-cent per gallon tax on everybody's heating oil to raise $30-million a year to spend on home insulation and weatherization.

What these would-be heating oil taxers propose is that "everybody must be taxed a little so a few lucky people can save a lot."

According to the story, "Rep. Margaret Cheney said she and her husband, Congressman Peter Welch, added insulation under their roof and took other weatherization steps last fall. A follow-up test showed they can expect to save 35-percent on their annual heating bill."

We congratulate Rep. Cheney and her husband for the wise investment of their funds, which will pay them back in three years of lower fuel bills, and thereafter save them significant money every year. Let it be an example to other homeowners. And we no doubt express the view of many Vermonters when we add "Thank you for not making us pay for it," (well, not directly at least).

The Shumlin task force is determined to collectivize energy conservation. If you've already laid out five-grand to insulate your home, they are happy to tax your heating oil to pay to insulate the home of somebody else who spent the five-grand on a gambling trip to Foxwoods. Why? Because to their collectivist way of thinking, every home needs to be suitably insulated, the government needs to tax everybody to pay for it, and when the energy savings accrue, everybody benefits.

You can see a similar example at Efficiency Vermont, where a few dozen people make six-figure salaries to do lord-knows-what which yields zero impact on global warming. Keep in mind too that the proposed 12-cent per gallon tax is on top of the existing sales tax, gross receipts tax and petroleum cleanup fee for heating oil.

The Vermont Fuel Dealers Association explains, "Over the past 40 years, heating oil consumption has decreased by more than half -- even though the population of Vermont has gone up by 55%. This is because the average per home consumption has decreased from 1400 to less than 800 gallons. The heat tax could cost the average homeowner an additional $88 a year."

Imagine that, Vermonters making intelligent choices without being forced to do so by government.

The fuel association also rightly questions the impact the tax would have on Vermont jobs. "Vermont businesses currently pay a sales tax, gross receipts tax, and petroleum cleanup fee, on every gallon of heating fuel. When you add the proposed Vermont heat tax, 10% of the heating bill for a Vermont business owner will go to Montpelier. Why would a business choose to expand, locate, or STAY in Vermont if forced to pay these energy taxes?"

Why indeed? Particularly in light of the fact that our energy costs are already among the highest in the nation and our businesses endure some of the highest tax burdens.

Earth to Montpelier: Scrap this idea. Can the heating oil tax. Forget about defeating "global warming." Start dealing with the real problems that you were sent to solve... most notably the dire fiscal situation we're in because of your tax-and-spend profligacy.

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