Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Vermont mandates that fossil fuel companies pay for climate damages

By 37ci3 Jun1,2024

The new law in Vermont will be the first of its kind in the United States require fossil fuel companies to pay for a fraction of the costs of climate change-induced weather disasters.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott allowed the bill to become law without his signature Thursday night after it passed the state legislature with overwhelming support from Democrats.

Vermont law”Climate Superfund Act“That’s because it’s modeled after the EPA’s superfund program, which requires companies responsible for polluting the environment to either clean up themselves or pay the government to do it. Vermont’s bill would similarly target big oil companies and other high-emissions companies. recovery and preparation for extreme weather conditions caused by climate change.

Estimates of how much climate change contributes to weather disasters in Vermont and how much these events cost the state will determine which companies will be charged and exactly how much. From there, the companies’ total shares will depend on the amount of carbon dioxide each of them emitted into the atmosphere from 2000 to 2019.

In the days after the Vermont bill passed, state lawmakers were uncertain whether Governor Scott would try to veto it. In an appeal to MPs On Thursday, Scott wrote that “Taking ‘Big Oil’ should not be taken lightly” and worried about the short- and long-term consequences of the law.

He added that “if we fail in this legal challenge, he fears it will set a precedent and hinder the ability of other states to recover damages.”

But supporters of the law celebrated its passage.

“Finally, the legislative branch of government is saying it’s time to make the world’s biggest polluters pay their fair share of the cleanup costs,” said Elena Millay, vice president of the Conservation Law Foundation in Vermont.

Ethan Poploski stands by
Ethan Poplosky’s family’s home was destroyed by a landslide in Ripton, Vermont in July 2023.Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe via Getty Images

“Without a Climate Superfund, the costs of climate change would fall squarely on taxpayers — and that’s not fair,” said Lauren Hierl, executive director of Vermont Conservation Voters. “Now we finally have a law that requires corporations that cause harm to pay as well.”

Under Vermont’s new law, money from fossil fuel companies will be used to modernize infrastructure, weatherproof schools and public buildings, storm cleanup and address the public health costs of climate change. Once it passes, state government agencies will be tasked with determining the amounts owed by various companies through 2027.

Once this is decided, the law is expected to face serious challenges in court. Past superfund cases have been long, complicated and expensive.

“This punitive new fee is another step in a coordinated campaign to undermine America’s energy dominance and the economic and national security benefits it provides,” said the American Petroleum Institute, one of the main lobbies for the oil and natural gas industry. Statement to NBC News. “Instead of working with industry to achieve our shared goal of a lower-carbon future, state legislators chose to pass a bill crafted by activists to serve their own interests.”

Massachusetts, Maryland and New York are considering policies similar to Vermont’s.

“I think the more other jurisdictions see climate disasters, the more they’re going to have to find the financial resources to pay for recovery,” said Jennifer Rushlow, a law professor at Vermont Law School.

“I think there’s a lot to be gained from what happened in Vermont on how to build a legally sound, robust climate superfund law,” he said.

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By 37ci3

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