WASHINGTON – Newly confirmed U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has a mandate to hold climate polluters accountable through investigations and strategic support of plaintiff-driven lawsuits, the Center for Climate Integrity said today.
President Biden pledged during his election campaign to instruct the Justice Department to support climate lawsuits against polluters, and Garland has promised to advance environmental and climate justice issues as attorney general.
During Garland’s confirmation hearing, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) pointed to Biden’s pledge and the growing number of state attorneys general who have filed climate fraud lawsuits against major oil and gas companies, and he encouraged Garland to consider taking action “against oil and gas companies for lying to the American public about the devastating effects of these products on climate change.”
Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, released the following statement:
“Attorney General Garland has a clear mandate to hold polluters accountable and investigate acts of fraud against the American public. There has never been a more consequential fraud perpetrated against the American people than the fossil fuel industry’s concerted, decades-long campaign to mislead and lie about the catastrophic climate damages they knew their products would cause.
“We urge Attorney General Garland to support communities seeking to hold climate polluters accountable and to ensure that the Justice Department investigates oil and gas companies’ efforts to deceive the American people about climate change. ”
President Biden’s Pledges to Support Accountability for Climate Polluters:
In his 2020 climate plan, Biden pledged to order the Department of Justice to “strategically support ongoing plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters,” a reference to lawsuits filed against the fossil fuel industry by more than 20 U.S. states and localities.
During a 2020 Democratic primary debate, Biden said of fossil fuel companies and executives, “if you demonstrate that they, in fact, have done things already that are bad and they’ve been lying, they should be able to be sued, they should be able to be held personally accountable…This is an industry we should be able to sue. We should go after, just like we did the drug companies, just like we did with the tobacco companies.”
Background on Climate Liability Cases:
Since 2017, 25 communities, including the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island; the District of Columbia, and more than a dozen city and county governments in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, and Washington have brought lawsuits under different claims to hold oil and gas companies accountable for deceiving the public about their products’ role in climate change. Learn about those cases here.Print