Climate Change

Vermont Enacts Groundbreaking Climate Superfund Law to Hold Fossil Fuel Companies Accountable

Main image to the post Vermont Enacts Groundbreaking Climate Superfund Law to Hold Fossil Fuel Companies Accountable

Vermont has enacted a groundbreaking law known as the Climate Superfund Act, making it the first state in the U.S. to hold fossil fuel companies financially accountable for weather disasters aggravated by climate change. Governor Phil Scott allowed the bill to become law without his signature, acknowledging the significant support it received in the state Legislature, especially from Democrats who held a supermajority.

The Climate Superfund Act is designed to compel big oil companies and other major emitters to pay for the costs associated with recovering from and preparing for extreme weather events resulting from climate change. This legislation establishes a mechanism for determining which companies will be charged and how much they will pay based on calculations of their contribution to climate change-caused disasters in Vermont between 2000 and 2019, linked to the amount of carbon dioxide they emitted during that time period.

Under the new law, funds collected from fossil fuel companies will be utilized to upgrade infrastructure, weatherproof schools and public buildings, clean up after storms, and address the public health impacts of climate change. Although the law has been hailed by its supporters as a way to make polluters bear the costs of their damage, it is expected to face legal challenges in the future, following a path similar to past superfund cases that have been intricate and costly.

Vermont's initiative has drawn interest from other states like Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York, suggesting a potential shift towards similar policies to hold high-emission companies accountable for climate-related disasters nationally. Legal experts see Vermont's Climate Superfund Act as an example of how to structure a robust and legally sound law to address the impacts of climate change by making those responsible for environmental harm financially liable for their actions.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09