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Attorney General Clark Announces Environmental Highlights of 2023

January 9, 2024

Attorney General Charity Clark today announced highlights from the Office’s Environmental Protection Unit during her first year in office.

“Vermont’s natural environment and natural resources are part of who we are as a state. I am proud of my office’s role in upholding Vermont’s environmental laws and protecting our environment for future generations,” said Attorney General Clark.

Highlights from the past year include:


  • In October 2023, the Attorney General’s Office entered a $75,000 settlement to resolve claims against Thomas Tremonte for civil timber trespass and unlawful mischief on State Park land. The settlement resolves a 2021 case filed by the Attorney General’s Office on behalf of the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation alleging that Mr. Tremonte cut 839 trees without authorization in a designated natural area of Hazen’s Notch State Park.
  • In September 2023, the Attorney General’s Office won a motion to dismiss in a case making various rulemaking allegations against the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Court held plaintiffs lacked standing to bring their claims because they did not allege a concrete, particularized, and actual or imminent injury.  In November, the Court denied plaintiffs’ motion to alter or amend the decision.

Water Quality

  • In September 2023, the Attorney General’s Office settled a case on behalf of the Agency of Natural Resources with Green Mountain Power Corporation. The settlement resolved alleged violations for sediment discharges from the Goshen Dam in Goshen, Vermont into Sucker Brook, which degraded spawning ground for brook trout downstream of the dam. Under the settlement, Green Mountain Power agreed to pay a civil penalty of $57,000 and undertake remedial sediment removal and flushing work.
  • In September 2023, the Attorney General’s Office settled a case on behalf of the Agency of Natural Resources with a farm in Franklin, Vermont. The settlement resolved claims against farm operators David and Peggy Howrigan and landowners Ronald and Lynn Paradis for alleged violations involving discharges of manure and silage leachate to a tributary of the Missisquoi River. The settlement provides for an assessed civil penalty of $25,500 with $20,000 suspended based on the defendants’ demonstrated inability to pay. The settlement also requires interim and long-term corrective action.
  • In July 2023, the Attorney General’s Office settled a case with a Berkshire, Vermont farm. The settlement resolved claims by the State of Vermont, Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (AAFM) against Mark and Amanda St. Pierre for alleged violations at the Lumbra Farm for expanding a barn without first obtaining all required permits, and related violations. Under the settlement, the St. Pierres agreed to obtain Large Farm Operation permit coverage for the Lumbra Farm and to pay $20,000 in civil penalties. The St. Pierres also agreed to dismiss their appeal of a related AAFM permit decision in Vermont Superior Court, Environmental Division.
  • In March 2023, the Attorney General’s Office settled a case on behalf of the Agency of Natural Resources with the Sizen Dairy Farm in Georgia, Vermont. The settlement addressed alleged violations involving discharges from a manure pit into a tributary of the Lamoille River. The farm had already taken corrective action and agreed to pay a civil penalty of $7,500.

Waste & Contaminated Sites

  • In December 2023, the Attorney General’s Office settled a case on behalf of the Agency of Natural Resources against the current and former owners of a Berkshire, Vermont property for alleged violations of Vermont’s salvage yard law and regulations. Jacqueline Desmarais and 447 Horseshoe Road, LLC agreed to pay $26,250 in penalties for operating a salvage yard on the Berkshire property without a permit. The LLC also agreed to obtain a salvage yard permit from the Agency of Natural Resources.

Multistate Work

The Office joined almost 40 amicus briefs or comments last year and currently is involved in around 30 litigation cases alongside other states. This multistate work covers a wide variety of critical environmental issues including climate change, environmental justice, toxics, water quality, energy efficiency, air pollution, pipeline safety, and endangered species. See the multistate webpage for a list of all cases and comments.

Supreme Court Appeals

  • In December 2023, the Vermont Supreme Court upheld the Superior Court, Environmental Division’s decision regarding a proposed facility for justice-involved youth in the Town of Newbury. The Attorney General’s Office represented the Department for Children and Families in the trial court and at the Supreme Court. Both courts agreed that the proposed facility qualifies as a group home to serve youth with disabilities, and is therefore entitled to treatment as a residential use under zoning law.
  • In October 2023, the Vermont Supreme Court upheld the Public Utility Commission’s denial of a Certificate of Public Good for Apple Hill Solar LLC. The Attorney General’s Office had participated as amicus curiae on behalf of the State to defend the constitutionality of certain energy siting criteria, and the Supreme Court held Apple Hill had failed to preserve the issue.

Ongoing Complex Litigation

  • In June 2023, the Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against Monsanto to protect and restore Vermont’s natural resources and schools affected by PCB contamination. The lawsuit seeks recovery for PCB contamination in schools on a statewide basis and is the first of its kind in the nation. The lawsuit is in Chittenden Superior Court and Monsanto’s response to the Complaint is due on January 12, 2024. Separately, in November the Attorney General asked for a stay of an overlapping federal case until the State’s case is resolved.
  • The Attorney General’s 2021 consumer protection case against Exxon Mobil, Shell, Sunoco, Citgo, and related entities is ongoing. The case alleges that these companies sought to mislead Vermont consumers about the risks and dangers of their products—including the connection between their products and climate change—which denied Vermont consumers the opportunity to make informed and different decisions regarding fossil fuel purchases. Defendants removed the case to Vermont federal district court and the State filed a motion to remand the case back to state court in November 2021. The Attorney General is awaiting the Court’s decision on the motion to remand.
  • The Attorney General also continues to litigate two major cases against manufacturers of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) for contaminating Vermont’s natural resources with PFAS. PFAS are toxic, human-made substances that persist in the environment. The cases were filed in 2019 and the primary defendants are 3M Company and DuPont-related entities. The non-AFFF case—which concerns PFAS contamination that is not attributable to AFFF—has been in active discovery. The AFFF case is in multidistrict litigation in federal district court in South Carolina with thousands of other AFFF cases. 

Earth Day Essay Challenge

Last spring, the Office conducted its third annual Earth Day Essay Challenge for Vermont’s fifth and sixth graders. The Office received almost 50 inspiring essays on a wide range of topics from students in different parts of Vermont, from the western and central part of the state to the Northeast Kingdom. Each essay received individual feedback from a member of the Environmental Protection Unit and the essays were posted on the Office’s website. Attorney General Clark was delighted to visit the “winner” of the challenge (as determined by drawing a name out of a hat), the Main Street Middle School in Montpelier. 


CONTACT:    Lauren Jandl, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171