Vermont ‘Climate Superfund’ bill draws supermajority vote

By Adam Aton | 05/07/2024 06:35 AM EDT

The bill cleared a major test by earning enough support to overcome a potential veto. It awaits a final vote.

Floodwater in Montpelier, Vermont, last year.

The Vermont Legislature is advancing a bill that would require fossil fuel producers to pay for some of the state's recovery costs from climate-related storms. Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets via AP

Vermont’s proposal to hold oil companies liable for climate damages is on track to become law, setting up a blockbuster legal battle between a small state and some of the world’s biggest companies.

Supermajorities in both of Vermont’s legislative chambers have approved the “Climate Superfund Act,” which seeks to charge fossil fuel corporations billions of dollars based on the emissions from their products between 1995 and 2024.

The bill cleared a major test Friday when the state House cast a procedural vote of 100-33 — the exact number of supporters it would need to overcome a potential veto by Republican Gov. Phil Scott. The bill passed the House on Monday with fewer votes, 94-38. Supporters attributed that to lawmaker absences and predicted they would be able to muster a supermajority if needed.


The bill, S. 259, now awaits a final vote in the Senate, where an earlier version passed 26-3. The legislation has attracted some Republican support in each chamber. Scott has criticized the bill, but his Agency on Natural Resources has worked with lawmakers to craft the bill’s details, including the time frame for which fossil fuel companies would be liable.