U.S. Vermont Takes a Stand: Polluters Pay for Climate Change

U.S. Vermont Takes a Stand: Polluters Pay for Climate Change

Vermont leads the charge with a groundbreaking climate policy – the Vermont Superfund Act. This act directly targets the fossil fuel industry, making them financially responsible for the very problems they contribute to.

FILE – A small tractor clears water from a business as flood waters block a street, July 12, 2023, in Barre, Vt.

Inspired by the EPA Superfund program for cleaning hazardous waste sites, Vermont’s act forces companies to pay for climate change adaptation and resilient infrastructure. No longer will taxpayers shoulder the burden; the polluters pay!

Remember the record-breaking rainfall Vermont faced in July 2023? Montpelier wasn’t alone. These extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common.

The Vermont Superfund Act targets fossil fuel companies who operated between 2000-2019. Additionally, any individual, corporation, or municipality that held a stake in the fossil fuel industry could be held accountable for their share of emissions.
The National Severe Storms Laboratory Multi-Radar Multi-sensor (MRMS) mosaic composite reflectivity (dBZ) loop from 15 UTC (11am EDT) on 9 July 2023 through 16 UTC (noon EDT) on 11 July 2023

The act uses a two-pronged approach to determine each agency’s financial contribution:

  1. Emissions Share: The EPA’s Emissions Factors for Greenhouse Gas Inventories helps pinpoint the amount of fossil fuels and resulting emissions attributable to each agency.
  2. Attribution Science: For the past two decades, scientists have been using attribution science to model human influence on extreme weather events. This advancement in understanding now allows us to solidify the connection between fossil fuel companies and Vermont’s changing climate.

Vermont’s bold move sets a precedent by holding polluters accountable. This, in turn, forces corporations to face the consequences of their actions and contribute to solutions. As a result, this act paves the way for other states to follow suit, creating a future where polluters pay for the environmental damage they cause. We need such an act in India also.

Reference- EARTHDAY.ORG Newsletter, EPA website, ScienceDirect, Vermont Superfund Act