Oil Companies Forced To Pay For Climate Damage?

Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

(TruthAndLiberty.com) – Vermont is set to be the first state in the U.S. to mandate that oil companies compensate for the effects of climate change, following the decision of Republican Governor Phil Scott to let a groundbreaking bill pass into law without his signature.

The legislation, known as the Climate Superfund Act, is inspired by the federal Superfund law. It aims to levy financial penalties on emissions produced from 1993 to 2024, potentially amassing billions of dollars.

The Vermont House passed the bill with a vote of 94-38 on May 7, just shy of a supermajority. An earlier vote garnered 100 votes, indicating the legislature had sufficient support to override any potential veto from Governor Scott.

This statute is the pioneer among several similar bills being considered in other states. The New York State Senate approved its version earlier this month, though the bill faces skepticism from New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D), who voiced concerns this week about potential adverse impacts on utility customers. Heastie remarked, “I’ve never seen corporations prioritize ratepayers over shareholders,” predicting that the costs would ultimately fall on the consumers.

In a statement explaining his decision, Governor Scott voiced his apprehensions about Vermont proceeding with the law given its small population and economic output compared to larger states like New York and California. He pointed out that the law includes an allocation of $600,000 to analyze its implementation and legal defense, expressing skepticism about the state’s readiness for success.

Nevertheless, Governor Scott acknowledged the need to secure funding to address the significant impacts of climate change on Vermont. He noted endorsements from Attorney General Charity Clark and Treasurer Mike Pieciak, and took comfort in knowing that the Agency of Natural Resources is mandated to report to the Legislature by January 2025 on the law’s feasibility, allowing for a reassessment of the state’s independent strategy.

Vermont experienced severe flooding last summer with rainfall topping 9 inches in some areas. The increasing frequency of such extreme weather events, from intense storms to unusual temperature extremes, sheds light on the growing impact of climate change on regions unaccustomed to such conditions.

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