Carbon tax supporters, opponents weigh in on 1st day of session

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont lawmakers were confronted with a thorny issue on their first day of the session, the question of putting a price on carbon pollution.

Legislative leaders have made no commitment to pursue a carbon tax, but that didn't stop people on both sides of the issue from showing up to voice their opinions. Inspired by upheaval in France, dozens of carbon tax opponents showed up Wednesday wearing yellow vests to voice their opposition. Their message is simple -- Vermonters simply can't afford higher taxes on gasoline, diesel and home heating fuels.

"The left and the right are both gonna struggle -- this has nothing to do with parties. Everybody's working-class grandmother, everybody's single-parent family that's struggling to make any money at all -- these are the folks that are gonna struggle," said J.T. Dodge.

But a group of students with the Vermont Youth Lobby disagree. They're asking lawmakers and their fellow Vermonters to seriously pursue such a policy to protect the planet for their generation. "It's time for Vermont to look seriously at putting a price on carbon and to start acting on it. We encourage our fellow Vermonters to have an open mind to such ideas," said the group's Libby Brusa.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, says she doesn't see any appetite for raising taxes on gas, so advancing a carbon tax this year remains unlikely.