Vermont Passes Landmark Law Holding Fossil Fuel Companies Accountable for Climate Change Damage

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Written By Blue & Gold NLR Team





Vermont has taken a monumental step forward by passing legislation that holds fossil fuel companies accountable for the damage caused by climate change.

This groundbreaking law, named the Climate Superfund Cost Recovery Program, aims to tackle the long-lasting effects of climate change, largely stemming from the emissions produced by fossil fuel use.

Governor Phill Scott allowed the bill to become law without his signature, expressing concerns about the financial implications of challenging “Big Oil.” Nevertheless, he recognized the importance of ensuring these companies are held responsible for their role in climate change.

“Big Oil,” representing the world’s largest oil and gas corporations, has been identified as the primary contributor to global climate change, responsible for over 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. Vermont has witnessed firsthand the devastating consequences of extreme weather events exacerbated by rising temperatures, such as catastrophic flooding.

Under this new legislation, the Agency of Natural Resources will oversee the implementation of the cost recovery program. Fossil fuel companies will be subject to a “cost recovery demand” if their products have emitted more than 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases between 1995 and 2024. The funds collected will be directed towards a superfund aimed at assisting the state in adapting to climate change and constructing climate-resilient infrastructure.

Vermont’s bold move has attracted attention from other states, including New York, California, Massachusetts, and Maryland, which are considering similar measures. Advocates view this as a pivotal step towards holding accountable those responsible for exacerbating climate change.

Although the American Petroleum Institute has voiced opposition to the legislation, citing concerns about retroactive liability and legal challenges, Vermont lawmakers remain confident in its legality. Representative Martin LaLonde emphasized the importance of ensuring that corporations contribute to rectifying the environmental damage they have caused.

As Vermont leads the way in addressing climate change through this innovative approach, it sets an example for other states to follow in holding fossil fuel companies accountable for their environmental impact.

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