Vermont Climate Bill Would Demand Oil Companies Pay For ‘Extreme Weather Events’
Vermont Climate Bill Would Demand Oil Companies Pay For ‘Extreme Weather Events’

By Matthew Lysiak

A Vermont bill that would mandate private companies pay for damages caused by global warming has raised concerns that the legislation could hurt the business climate as well as raise energy prices for already cash-strapped residents of the state.

If approved, the controversial Vermont Climate Superfund Act is poised to make oil and gas giants such as Shell, ExxonMobile, and Chevron shell out billions in climate change cleanup and climate-related health care costs to state authorities. Penalties from the “Climate Superfund Act” will be assessed using a calculation based on to what extent authorities determine “extreme weather events” have affected the state.

Fines would be imposed retroactively and calculated based on each corporation’s emissions from 1995 to 2024, according to the legislation.

The bill states that under the program, “an entity or a successor in interest to an entity that was engaged in the trade or business of extracting fossil fuel or refining crude oil between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2019 would be assessed a cost recovery demand for the entity’s share of fossil fuel extraction or refinement contributing to greenhouse gas-related costs in Vermont. An entity would only be assessed a cost recovery demand if the Agency determined that the entity’s products were responsible for more than one billion metric tons of covered greenhouse gas emissions.”

Further, the funds would be redistributed from the offending companies to Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources, which would then delegate the money toward enhancing infrastructure, weatherproofing public buildings, and “preventive health care programs and providing medical care to treat illness or injury caused by the effects of climate change.”

To litigate the climate liability claims each company would be forced to pay, the bill would employ data from the Carbon Majors database, which analyzes historical production data from 122 of the world’s largest oil, gas, coal, and cement producers, according to the bill.

If passed, the measure would make Vermont the first state in the country to enact a bill that penalizes private companies for changes in the weather, with California, Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland attempting to push similar policies.

Vermont Sen. Russ Ingalls, who cast one of the three votes against the bill, told The Epoch Times that if passed, the resulting rise in energy prices would prove devastating for both the business climate as well as residents of the state.

“It is definitely going to raise energy prices even higher on the people,” said Mr. Ingalls, who added that residents are already forced to absorb a 14.4 percent tax increase that will be going into effect this July.

“The people are already in disbelief over all the high fees in this state and a lot of them are desperate for relief and don’t understand what is going on,” he added.

Further, the burdensome penalties could result in companies leaving the state, according to Mr. Ingalls.

“There is no doubt that would entice companies to leave and go to other states that are more appreciative of having their business.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) claimed in a press release last October that human behavior has increased carbon emissions, causing a change in the weather that “is directly contributing to humanitarian emergencies from heatwaves, wildfires, floods, tropical storms, and hurricanes and they are increasing in scale, frequency, and intensity.”

The release added that research “shows that 3.6 billion people already live in areas highly susceptible to climate change. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from undernutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress alone.”

However, critics point to past models employed by climate activists that have been used to raise concerns, yet in time have been repeatedly proven to be false, and contend that the methods employed by climate science alarmists are highly flawed, especially in establishing causal relationships between carbon emissions and temperature.

A paper published in 2021 from the University of Colorado Boulder titled “Warmer Clouds, Cooler Planet,” and subtitled “precipitation-related ‘feedback’ cycle means models may overestimate warming,” casts further doubt on the prevailing system of modeling.

“Our work shows that the increase in climate sensitivity from the last generation of climate models should be taken with a huge grain of salt,” said CIRES Fellow Jennifer Kay, an associate professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at CU Boulder and co-author on the paper, in a press release.

While it remains uncertain what, if any, impact the bill would have on the nation’s climate, its passage would be sure to provide at least a short-term benefit to government authorities, according to Mr. Ingalls.

“This is a cash grab, pure and simple,” said Mr. Ingalls. “But what we are seeing is that the people who want this don’t really care that 70 percent of our state is living paycheck to paycheck. The residents be damned. This is what they want, so they are going to keep pushing and pushing.”

“We have prospered by using fossil fuels. No matter what anyone wants to believe, they have been a big part of what has made our country great,” said Mr. Ingalls. “Let’s stop pitting neighbor against neighbor.”

The bill, which passed in both Vermont’s Senate and House with an overwhelming majority, is now headed to the desk of Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who is expected to issue a veto, according to Mr. Ingalls. If the legislation receives 11 votes it can then override the veto and the bill would become law. The vote is expected to be close.

Either way, in a few months residents of the state will have the opportunity to have their voices heard, according to Mr. Ingalls.

“For a lot of people getting fed up with all of these antics, November can’t come soon enough.”

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