Climate Change Cost Recovery (S.259) - April 18, 2024

Thursday afternoon the House Environment Energy Committee took up S.259 and the Committee's amendment to the bill. The bill creates a Climate Change Cost Recovery Program which allows the state to sue fossil fuel companies for damages using an “emissions factor” for greenhouse gas emissions the company’s products produced. Investments by municipalities to make sure communities are resilient to the impacts of climate change would be eligible for funds from this super fund.

One of the changes in the new amendment is to change the language to allow the state to purchase access to data if they consider it the “best data” for the calculation of the recovery payment from a fossil fuel company. The previous version only allowed for the use of publicly available data. The Secretary of State has discretion to adjust the cost recovery demand based on the CPI (inflation) if the payments are made over time instead of in a lump sum.

The bill requires the State Treasurer to determine the cost to the state of greenhouse gas emissions from responsible parties over the covered period and then use that to calculate the liability of each fossil fuel extractor or petroleum refiner.

It was noted that it is going to take a “lot of time and expertise” to determine a scientifically defensible number for the cost of remediation, and Vermont hasn’t yet figured out the “full suite of damages from these emissions.”

Representative Sibilia stated that she believes that “the Legislature, the Governor, and our other elected officials are working on this.” She claimed that we have seen a system like this before “with Tobacco, and other companies that have profited off of causing pain.” She believes this is necessary for the state to pursue.

The Committee voted 8-2-1 in favor of the bill as amended.

DISCLAIMER: Assistive Technologies used in the production of this report.

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