A big step forward for helping Vermonters impacted by toxic chemical exposure

Earlier this week, the Vermont Senate passed S.197, VPIRG-backed legislation aimed at helping Vermonters who have been harmed by toxic substance release, by a 17-13 vote. We strongly believe that Vermonters deserve the right to be protected from toxic chemical exposure and to effectively seek justice against those who poisoned them.

Under current law, innocent victims and taxpayers are often on the hook to pay for the harm caused by toxic pollution such as increased medical expenses, decreased property values and contamination clean-up. S.197 flips this dynamic and provides fair legal remedies for Vermonters who have been harmed by toxic chemical contamination. Specifically, this bill holds polluters strictly liable for any harm resulting from their release of toxic chemicals and establishes a person’s right to sue a company who poisoned them for medical monitoring expenses.

After the discovery of contaminated drinking water wells in the North Bennington community in 2016, the Vermont legislature passed Act 154 to create a working group to address the contamination in the short-term, better regulate toxic chemicals and prevent similar situations from happening in the future. S.197 is some of the strongest legislation of its kind in the nation, and is a direct result of Act 154 and other VPIRG-backed efforts to protect Vermonters from toxic chemicals.

S.197 must win approval in the House before it can be sent to the governor for his signature.

Senators who voted in favor of S.197:

Senator Tim Ashe (Chittenden)

Senator Claire Ayer (Addison)

Senator Becca Balint (Windham)

Senator Phil Baruth (Chittenden)

Senator Chris Bray (Addison)

Senator Brian Campion (Bennington)

Senator Alison Clarkson (Windsor)

Senator Ann Cummings (Washington)

Senator Debbie Ingram (Chittenden)

Senator Ginny Lyons (Chittenden)

Senator Mark MacDonald (Orange)

Senator Dick McCormack (Windsor)

Senator Chris Pearson (Chittenden)

Senator Anthony Pollina (Washington)

Senator Dick Sears (Bennington)

Senator Michael Sirotkin (Chittenden)

Senator Jeanette White (Windham)


Senators who voted against S.197:

Senator Benning (Caledonia)

Senator Carolyn Branagan (Franklin)

Senator Randy Brock (Franklin)

Senator Francis Brooks (Washington)

Senator Brian Collamore (Rutland)

Senator Peg Flory (Rutland)

Senator Jane Kitchel (Caledonia)

Senator Dick Mazza (Grand Isle)

Senator Alice Nitka (Windsor)

Senator John Rodgers (Essex-Orleans)

Senator David Soucy (Rutland)

Senator Robert Starr (Essex-Orleans)

Senator Richard Westman (Lamoille)

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