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Vermont Could Become First State to Make Energy Companies ‘Pay for Climate-Related Damages’

Vermont’s House of Representatives has passed S.259, a state bill aimed at collecting recovery costs for climate-related damages from the biggest emitters, such as fossil fuel companies.

The bill, called the Climate Superfund Act, was introduced to create a Climate Superfund Cost Recovery Program, in which fossil fuel businesses would undergo an assessment to determine their share of costs for fossil fuel extraction or refinement actions that led to increased greenhouse gases and related costs in the state.

As reported by NBC News, the agency would measure extreme weather linked to climate change in the state and the cost of damages from extreme weather events through attribution science. From there, the agency would calculate companies’ emissions from 1995 to 2024 to determine a share of the costs to charge each company.

According to the bill, costs collected from the program would be put into a Climate Superfund Cost Recovery Program Fund, managed by the state’s Agency of Natural Resources, with funds going toward state projects that improve adaption or resilience to climate change.

“We’re able to say very clearly, ‘We would not be experiencing these intense global temperatures without human-caused climate change and the history of carbon pollution,’” Andrew Pershing, vice president for science at the nonprofit Climate Central, told NBC News.

“New England has had a 60% increase in the heaviest precipitation days,” Pershing added. “For every 1-degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature, you get a 4% increase in the amount of water vapor that the atmosphere can hold.”