Burns & Hierl: Make Big Oil pay, not Vermont taxpayers

VT Digger: The biggest oil companies in the world made more than $200 billion in profits last year, while Vermonters were forced to pay record prices at the pump — and got stuck with the costs of climate change cleanup in our communities.
This commentary is by Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, and Lauren Hierl, executive director of Vermont Conservation Voters and a member of the Montpelier City Council.

Climate change is hitting Vermont hard — hurting our families, communities, and pocketbooks. Tropical Storm Irene killed seven Vermonters in 2011. A heat wave in 2018 led to the deaths of four senior citizens. Last February, during one of the warmest winters on record, three people drowned after breaking through thin ice on Lake Champlain.

At the same time, the natural wonders that make Vermont such a great place to live and raise a family are under unprecedented strain. Winters are getting warmer. Summers are getting hotter. Climate change is disrupting our way of life.

Climate change is costing taxpayers, too. Just last year, Gov. Phil Scott and the Legislature approved $225 million in taxpayer funding for climate change mitigation measures. And a recent report by Rebuild by Design found that from 2011 to 2021, Vermont had the fifth-highest per-person spending on climate-related disasters in the country.

What we’ve paid already, however, is just a fraction of what we know is coming.

Researchers hired by the state estimate that, if we don’t act to meet our legally binding emission reduction goals, climate change will cost Vermonters at least $7 billion in economic, health and environmental damages over the next 25 years. In a separate UVM study, researchers predicted that property damage from flooding alone could cost Vermont $5.2 billion over the next century.  Read more>>