Montpelier — Today, the Vermont House advanced a bill (S.113) that holds corporate polluters responsible for ongoing harm to Vermonters caused by toxic chemical exposure. The bill also authorizes the State to sue manufacturers of dangerous chemicals that harm Vermont’s natural resources and public facilities. The bill will be up for final passage in the House tomorrow.
Jon Groveman, Policy and Water Program Director for the Vermont Natural Resources Council noted, “S.113 is a crucial piece of legislation that will hold polluters accountable for the damage they have caused. It is long overdue for Vermont to act in support of families and communities who should not bear the financial burden of corporate wrongdoing.”
The impacts of toxic pollution are real, and somebody always pays the price. Currently, Vermonters can be on the hook for costly medical bills to monitor diseases linked to toxic exposure. S.113 includes provisions that will help people who are exposed to a toxic chemical and are now at increased risk of disease. The Vermont Legislature has enacted similar legislation twice before, but both times it was vetoed by Gov. Scott.
In 2021, the Legislature enacted a bill to restrict toxic PFAS chemicals (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) from a range of products, a positive step for reducing toxic exposure. However, numerous chemicals that can harm human health persist in our environment and are still in use by corporations.
“Big corporations typically have large legal teams that can tie up lawsuits in court for many years, and make it incredibly difficult for victims of toxic contamination to be compensated for the costs they’ve had to bear,” said Lauren Hierl, executive director of Vermont Conservation Voters. “It’s time for us to make it easier for victims of toxic pollution to get the help they need, and S.113 is an important step in the right direction.”
S.113 would ensure the following:
- Place the responsibility on corporate polluters, rather than victims, to pay for medical monitoring for diseases linked to toxic exposure;
- Allow the state to sue chemical manufacturers that have caused harm to Vermont’s natural resources, and seek compensation from such manufacturers to help clean up chemicals (like PFAS) from our wastewater treatment plants, water supply systems, groundwater, and lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams.
Hierl added, “I thank the Vermont House, including leaders on the Judiciary Committee, for their support and years of hard work on this bill. At the end of the day, this bill is about fairness – it’s about holding companies responsible for the harm they cause. After twice vetoing similar bills, I hope Governor Scott finally signs this bill into law.”