Policy Update

New York and Vermont to Increase Accountability for Major Climate Polluters

May 22, 2024



NCEL Point of Contact

Ava Gallo
Climate and Energy Program Manager



Earlier this month, the Vermont legislature passed the Climate Superfund Act, S.259/H.809, with tri-partisan support in both chambers. The bill now awaits approval from Governor Phil Scott.

The Act aims to hold major fossil fuel polluters in Vermont accountable by requiring them to pay the costs of damages associated with their emissions. This legislation was in part spurred by record setting flooding in Vermont last summer. 

New York is also considering legislation – A.3351B/S.2129B – to charge major polluters for damages their emissions have caused. S.2129B recently passed the Senate. 

  • Why it matters: Based on the federal Superfund law, these acts would set an important precedent that “polluters pay” or are responsible for their contributions to climate change on the state level. 

Key Components

Vermont S.259 

If enacted into law, this bill would require that:

  • The Vermont State Treasurer must calculate the costs of climate change induced by pollution from emitters from 1995 – 2024. 
  • The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources must issue cost recovery demands–requests of payment for any damages caused by major polluters. 

New York S.2129B

If enacted into law, this bill would:

  • Create the Climate Change Adaptation Cost Recovery Program to funnel funds from major polluters towards climate resiliency infrastructure.
  • Establish the Climate Change Adaptation Fund, a 25-year dedicated fund of $3 billion annually, derived from big fossil fuel corporations.
  • Reserve one-third of the funds (~$1 billion) for overburdened communities disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis.

Other State Action

Vermont and New York are not alone in these efforts. California, Massachusetts, and Maryland are also considering legislation establishing comparable climate change funds. California’s S.B.1497 establishes the Polluters Pay Climate Cost Recovery Program. Like New York, Massachusetts’ H.872 creates a Climate Change Adaptation Cost Recovery Program. Maryland’s H.B.1438 establishes the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Fund. 

Bill Sponsors

Vermont’s S.259 is sponsored by Senator Anne Watson and Senator Richard Sears Jr.

New York’s A3351B/S.2129B is sponsored by Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz and Senator Liz Kreuger respectively.