Senate passes S.259 to establish a Vermont Climate Superfund

Vermont Business Magazine Today the Vermont Senate passed S.259, a bill to establish a Vermont Climate Superfund, on a tripartisan vote of 26-3-1. This fund will hold the largest fossil fuel companies accountable by recouping expenses for the harm caused to Vermonters and the State as a result of the climate crisis. The bill is cosponsored by legislators representing all 14 Vermont counties.

"Vermont has a long tradition of holding polluters accountable," said Senator Dick Sears, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and lead sponsor of the bill. "If a corporation is responsible for fouling our land or water, we expect them to help pay to clean it up. The Climate Superfund Act would extend that principle to include the companies that have polluted our atmosphere and caused so much damage to Vermont's environment and infrastructure."

"Vermonters should not shoulder the burden of the harm caused by climate change,” said Senator Nader Hashim, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and reporter of the bill. “This bill follows a similar standard for how we require polluters to clean up their messes. The reality is that we're going to face more and more severe weather events over the years, and the largest fossil fuel companies should contribute to helping mitigate and repair this damage."

Under S.259, fossil fuel companies that have produced more than one billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions between January 1, 1995, through December 31, 2024, would have to pay fines proportional to the damages they’ve caused. Funds will pay for climate mitigation and disaster recovery efforts in Vermont.

“Let’s be clear. Vulnerable Vermonters, mom and pop businesses in small cities and towns, aren’t the cause of this damage,” said Senator Anne Watson, co-lead sponsor of the bill and Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. “Big oil knew decades ago that their products would cause this damage, so it is only right that they pay a share of the cost to clean up this mess.”

“Vermonters should not have to pick up the tab for the damages caused by the fossil fuel industry,” said President Pro Tempore Phil Baruth. “In passing S.259, the Senate has said loud and clear that the largest contributors to the climate crisis will be held accountable and made to pay their fair share.” 

You can learn more about S.259 on the legislative website.

Source: MONTPELIER, VT – 4.2.2024. Office of the President Pro Tempore