News / USA

    US States Form Coalition to Combat Climate Change, Fraud

    Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore speaks at a news conference on climate change in New York City, March 29, 2016. With him are several attorneys general, including Eric Schneiderman of New York, left, and William Sorrell of Vermont, right.
    Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore speaks at a news conference on climate change in New York City, March 29, 2016. With him are several attorneys general, including Eric Schneiderman of New York, left, and William Sorrell of Vermont, right.

    Top law enforcement officials from states around the nation have banded together to protect progress on climate change by taking on the fossil fuel industry.

    Democratic attorneys general from 15 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands joined with former Vice President Al Gore, who praised a "first-of-its-kind" joint effort to reduce carbon emissions, hold polluters accountable for fraudulent claims, and defend the Environmental Protection Agency's "Clean Power Plan"  against legal challenges.

    "We cannot continue to allow the fossil fuel industry or any industry to treat our atmosphere like an open sewer or mislead the public about the impact they have on the health of our people and the health of our planet," Gore said.

    The participating states are looking at working together on key initiatives related to climate change, including investigations into whether fossil fuel companies misled the public on the impact of climate change.

    ExxonMobil probe

    New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is conducting an ongoing investigation into whether the ExxonMobil Corp. misled the public and its shareholders on the business risks posed by climate change, assured coalition members that his office will pursue the matter as any other case of fraud.

    FILE - A sign for the ExxonMobil Torerance Refinery in Torrance, California, Jan. 30, 2012
    FILE - A sign for the ExxonMobil Torerance Refinery in Torrance, California, Jan. 30, 2012

    "They have told the public for years that there were no competent models ... to project climate patterns, including those in the Arctic," Schneiderman said. "And we know that they paid millions of dollars to support organizations that put out propaganda denying that we can predict or measure the effects of fossil fuel on our climate."

    The oil and gas giant in question, for its part, has denied any wrongdoing. According to a statement provided by International law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP: "ExxonMobil fully evaluates and mitigates risks to the viability of its assets as a result of public climate change policies."

    Schneiderman said his office is approaching the case cautiously, and acknowledged that a fight against Exxon and its corporate allies will require a multistate investigative effort, in part to push back against attempts to discredit investigators' claims. 

    Already, California and Massachusetts' attorneys general have announced they will join New York in the probe against Exxon. 

    "We have a moral obligation to act," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. "Fossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be — must be — held accountable."

    Big oil = big tobacco

    The former vice president compared the states' efforts to the big tobacco lawsuit of the mid-1990s, when the tobacco industry was accused of misleading the public on the cancer risks of cigarettes. Gore added that it took 40 years — beginning in 1964 — for tobacco companies to be held accountable.

    States Team Up to Combat Climate Change, Fraudi
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    March 30, 2016 4:13 PM
    Top law enforcement officials from 15 U.S. states and a couple of territories have banded together to take on the fossil fuel industry and safeguard progress in fighting climate change.

    "We do not have 40 years to continue suffering the consequences of the fraud allegedly being committed by the fossil fuel companies, where climate change is concerned," Gore said.

    In addition to key state attorneys general — representing California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia — the U.S. Virgin Islands (a U.S. island territory) joined the climate change coalition partly out of concern for its "survival."

    With increasingly destructive hurricanes, "people begin to say, why am I living here?'" said U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Earl Walker.

    "It's troubling that as the polar caps melt, you have companies that are looking at that as an opportunity to go and drill — to go and get more oil," Walker said. "How selfish can you be?"

    Walker said it is the coalition's priority to do something transformational and end its residents' reliance on fossil fuels once and for all.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Craig Kirby
    March 30, 2016 2:11 PM
    I am overwhelmed by the news of a coalition of states going after climate change and it's deniers. We need a movement on the scale of ww2 to fight climate change and I am ecstatic about this coalition which is unprecedented in this country! Thank you to the state attorney generals for your strong initiatives and thank you Al Gore!

    by: Carl Pag
    March 29, 2016 8:45 PM
    The oil and coal industry have spent millions making people afraid of nuclear power!
    Pretending for example, that radioactivity comes from nuclear plants, when in fact coal plants are over 1000 times more radioactive. From the ash piles and the uranium in coal which goes in to the atmosphere when it is burned.
    Scientific American points out that 1.8 Million americans owe their lives to nuclear power and don't know it, because if coal and oil had been burned in that amont that is how many deaths due to air pollution there are.

    The mostly theoretical deaths due to nuclear power pale in comparison to the 1/8 of ALL DEATHS that WHO says come from air pollution. About half of that is coal and diesel. Zero of it is nuclear power.

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