big oil profits climate opinion
Image by Monika from Pixabay

Paul Burns and Lauren Hierl: Make Big Oil pay, not Vermont taxpayers

In this Vermont Digger commentary, Paul Burns and Lauren Hierl write that 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 their communities.


In a nutshell

Climate change is proving costly for taxpayers, with millions of dollars already allocated to climate change mitigation measures and predictions of billions more in economic, health, and environmental damages in the coming years. As the debate rages on, the question remains: should Vermonters foot the bill, or should the big oil companies that knowingly contributed to the problem step up and take responsibility for the mess they created? Vermont's Climate Change Superfund Act would require Big Oil to to do just that.

Key quote

"Unsurprisingly, making polluters pay to clean up their messes is wildly popular. A recent poll of voters conducted by Data for Progress found that 64% of Vermonters support a bill that would assess a one-time fee on big oil and gas companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron to pay a share of the costs for making Vermont’s infrastructure better able to withstand the impacts of climate change."

The big picture

Burning fossil fuels releases harmful pollutants that contribute to air pollution, respiratory illnesses, and premature deaths. These impacts disproportionately affect vulnerable communities, exacerbating existing health disparities. Big Oil companies knew about the risks associated with carbon pollution but chose to prioritize profits over the well-being of people and the planet. As U.S. states grapple with the effects of climate change brought about by the burning of fossil fuels, Governor Phil Scott's decision about who should bear the burden of climate change damages will be closely watched.

Read the opinion piece at the Vermont Digger.

For additional context about our love affair with fossil fuels, read about missed opportunities to to curb climate change and advance clean energy in this 2022 commentary from Peter Dykstra.

Flooding costs US economy hundreds of billions annually

Increasingly severe flooding is costing the U.S. economy between $179.8 and $496 billion each year, according to new data from the Senate Joint Economic Committee.

Andrew Freedman reports for Axios.

Keep reading...Show less
Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way
Coast Guard inspects Cameron LNG Facility in preparation for first LNG export in 2019. (Credit: Coast Guard News)

Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way

This 2-part series was co-produced by Environmental Health News and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 1 here.Este ensayo también está disponible en español
Keep reading...Show less

Degrowth movement challenges traditional views on economic growth

Economic growth, long seen as universally beneficial, is increasingly scrutinized by the rising 'degrowth' movement, which argues for reducing consumption to address inequality and environmental damage.

Jennifer Szalai reports for The New York Times.

Keep reading...Show less

European election results could hinder ambitious climate policies

Recent gains by far-right parties in the European Parliament elections may obstruct efforts to implement more ambitious climate policies, though key net-zero commitments are expected to persist.

Carissa Wong reports for Nature.

Keep reading...Show less
Former Australian leaders urge Coalition to exit Paris climate accord
Credit: Michael/Unsplash

Former Australian leaders urge Coalition to exit Paris climate accord

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and Keith Pitt have called for the Coalition to abandon the Paris climate agreement, while Prime Minister Anthony Albanese criticized opposition leader Peter Dutton for opposing emissions reduction targets.

Karen Middleton reports for The Guardian.

Keep reading...Show less
Burgum shifts from green policies to pro-oil stance amid Trump's campaign
Credit: Pixabay

Burgum shifts from green policies to pro-oil stance amid Trump's campaign

Doug Burgum, North Dakota’s Republican governor, has transitioned from promoting environmentally friendly policies to supporting the oil and gas industry as he aids Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Lisa Friedman reports forThe New York Times.

Keep reading...Show less

Brazil's semi-arid farmers hope for government intervention to combat desertification

Small farmers in Brazil's semi-arid region struggle with land degradation due to climate change and past government neglect, but the new administration aims to prioritize land restoration and seek international funding.

Giovanna Carneiro and Inácio França report for Inside Climate News.

Keep reading...Show less
From our Newsroom
planetary health diet

This diet will likely keep you alive longer — and help the planet

New research finds the Planetary Health Diet lowers our risk to most major causes of death.

environmental justice

LISTEN: Jose Ramon Becerra Vera on democratizing science

“In their own way, they’re becoming experts, not just of their experiences but also of the data collection process.”

The oil and gas industry’s radioactive problem: Q&A with Justin Nobel

The oil and gas industry’s radioactive problem: Q&A with Justin Nobel

“Of all the levels of radium in produced water or brine around the world that I’ve looked at, I have encountered none that are consistently as high as what comes out of the Marcellus Shale.”

environmental justice pittsburgh

Environmental justice advocates find hope, healing and community in Pittsburgh

Advocates and researchers gathered to not only discuss ongoing fights but victories, self-care and cautious optimism about the path ahead.

air pollution pittsburgh

Amidst a controversial international sale, U.S. Steel falls behind in cleaner steelmaking

U.S. Steel’s proposed sale to Nippon Steel stokes concerns over labor rights and national security, all while the company continues to break clean air laws in Western Pennsylvania.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.