60 Members Of Congress Reject Attempts to Use the COVID-19 as an Excuse to Shield Industry from Ongoing Lawsuits over Climate Change Damages
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, 60 Members of Congress sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to “categorically oppose any attempt to confer immunity on the fossil fuel industry or to limit its liability for the damages it causes to people or property.”
The fossil fuel industry knowingly lied for half a century about the catastrophic damage their product would cause and now they are attempting to use the COVID-19 recovery to evade legal accountability for its wrongdoings. Members of Congress are making clear that the industry will have to pay for the damage it created.
Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated, “We applaud Congressman Raskin and all the lawmakers who put their name on this letter. The fossil fuel industry needs to pay for the damage it knowingly caused. The attempt of these companies to exploit this pandemic and make taxpayers clean up their mess is immoral.”
Those costs are becoming increasingly concrete. Already more than a dozen city, county, and state governments across the country — including the cities of Baltimore and Honolulu; the counties of King, Washington, and Boulder, Colorado, and the state of Rhode Island — have sued fossil fuel companies in recent years to recover billions of dollars in damages resulting from climate change the companies knew their products would cause. Giving liability relief to the fossil fuel industry could keep those cases from having their day in court.
The letter has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), 350.org, Earthjustice, Environmental Working Group, Greenpeace, Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Center for Climate Integrity (CCI), Food & Water Watch, Food & Water Action, Oxfam America, Union of Concerned Scientists, Oil Change International, Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, VOICES (Victory over InFRACKstructure, Clean Energy Instead), Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network International (WECAN International), Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Climate Hawks Vote, Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, Center for Sustainable Economy, EarthRights International, Rachel Carson Council (RCC), Corporate Accountability, and the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.
The letter opposes liability relief for the fossil fuel under any circumstances, not just during the COVID-19 recovery. The final line reads, “Shielding carbon polluters from proper accountability is an irrelevant and dangerous distraction from the task at hand. It has no place in federal legislation—we think never, but especially not now.”
Contact: Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, firstname.lastname@example.org, 240-460-5838
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.