Vermont Legislature Approves Controversial Toxic Chemical Bill | Off Message

Vermont Legislature Approves Controversial Toxic Chemical Bill


  • Thomas James
The Vermont Senate gave final approval Wednesday to watered-down legislation that would make it easier for residents to sue companies that release toxic chemicals.

Bennington lawmakers pushed for the bill, which the House passed last week,  in response to PFOA contamination that has affected hundreds of that town’s residents.

The legislation would allow affected residents to sue polluters for the cost of medical monitoring without first having to prove that the pollution made them sick.

The American Insurance Association warned that this change could result in an “avalanche of claims,” and other business groups have expressed opposition. 

Gov. Phil Scott has also expressed concerns about the bill, making its fate uncertain.

The legislation was originally far more sweeping, and would have held companies liable for chemical contamination regardless of whether they were negligent. The House removed this more controversial provision, attaching it to another bill that has yet to get a vote.

Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington), who cosponsored the bill, said of the stripped-down version, “You don’t throw out the good in search of the perfect.”

Environmental groups were still pleased.

“This bill recognizes that it’s simply unfair that Vermonters who have suffered chemical contamination — through no fault of their own — should bear increased medical costs,” Lauren Hierl, executive director of Vermont Conservation Voters, said in a statement after the vote.

Related Stories

Speaking of...


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2


Comments are closed.

From 2014-2020, Seven Days allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we've appreciated the suggestions and insights, right now Seven Days is prioritizing our core mission — producing high-quality, responsible local journalism — over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.