Vermont Mandates Oil Companies to Pay for Climate Change


Vermont’s Republican governor has allowed the state to become the first to require oil companies to pay for “costs associated with climate change” without his signature, pushing the law through despite his hesitation about the policy.

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The law will create the Climate Superfund Cost Recovery Program at the Agency of Natural Resources, which will collect the money from the companies and allocate it to “climate change adaptive or resilient infrastructure projects in the state.”

The moderate Republican, who recently announced his bid for reelection, has been at political odds with the heavily blue state’s Democrat-controlled legislature. He was expected to veto the bill, but instead criticized it while pushing it through.

“Instead of coordinating with other states like New York and California, with far more abundant resources, Vermont — one of the least populated states with the lowest GDP in the country — has decided to recover costs associated with climate change on its own,” the governor said.

Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott pauses while speaking before signing the first significant gun restrictions bills in the state's history during a ceremony on the steps of the Statehouse in Montpelier, VT, Wednesday, April 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott signs the first significant gun restrictions bills in the state’s history during a ceremony on the steps of the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vermont, on April 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

He went on to argue the state is “not positioning ourselves for success” with just $600,000 appropriated by the legislature to complete an analysis that will need to withstand “intense legal scrutiny from a well-funded defense.”

“Taking on ‘Big Oil’ should not be taken lightly,” Scott asserted.

Similar policies are being considered in Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York, according to the Associated Press.

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“I’m also fearful that if we fail in this legal challenge, it will set precedent and hamper other states’ ability to recover damages,” Scott continued, before sharing why he let the law pass without his signature.

Having said that, I understand the desire to seek funding to mitigate the effects of climate change that has hurt our state in so many ways. I also note Attorney General Clark and Treasurer Pieciak have endorsed this policy and committed to the work it will require. I’m also comforted by the fact that the Agency of Natural Resources is required to report back to the Legislature in January 2025 on the feasibility of this effort, so we can reassess our go-it-alone approach. So, for these reasons, this bill will become law without my signature. I hope those who endorsed this policy will follow through.

“For too long, giant fossil fuel companies have knowingly lit the match of climate disruption without being required to do a thing to put out the fire,” Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, said in a statement. “Finally, maybe for the first time anywhere, Vermont is going to hold the companies most responsible for climate-driven floods, fires and heat waves financially accountable for a fair share of the damages they’ve caused.”

In a letter to lawmakers obtained by the AP prior to the passing of the bill, the group argued that the measure does not properly notify potentially impacted businesses about the specific fees.

Olivia Rondeau
Olivia Rondeau
Digital Reporter. Previously, Olivia was a contributor at the Daily Caller, a staff writer at Foundation for Economic Education, and a Pennsylvania Campus Correspondent at Campus Reform. Prior to that, she worked in social media, research, and public relations at Arsenal Media Group. Olivia is a political science major at the East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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