Video to follow…great stuff, and thanks to all the Attorneys General (including our own excellent AG Mark Herring!), plus of course the man who SHOULD have been President Al Gore, for their work on this crucial subject. With that, here’s a press release on the historic press conference this morning.
Unprecedented Coalition Vows To Defend Climate Change Progress Made Under President Obama And To Push The Next President For Even More Aggressive Action
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today joined Attorneys General from across the nation to announce an unprecedented coalition of top law enforcement officials committed to aggressively protecting and building upon the recent progress the United States has made in combatting climate change.
Attorneys General Schneiderman, William Sorrell of Vermont, George Jepsen of Connecticut, Brian E. Frosh of Maryland, Maura Healey of Massachusetts, Mark Herring of Virginia, and Claude Walker of the US Virgin Islands were joined by former Vice President Al Gore for the announcement in New York City. Today’s announcement took place during a one-day Attorneys General climate change conference, co-sponsored by Schneiderman and Sorrell.
The participating states are exploring working together on key climate change-related initiatives, such as ongoing and potential investigations into whether fossil fuel companies misled investors and the public on the impact of climate change on their businesses. In 2015, New York State reached a historic settlement with Peabody Energy – the world’s largest publicly traded coal company – concerning the company’s misleading financial statements and disclosures. New York is also investigating ExxonMobil for similar alleged conduct.
Many of the states in the coalition have worked together on previous multi-state environmental efforts, including pressing the EPA to limit climate change pollution from fossil-fueled electric power plants, defending federal rules controlling climate change emissions from large industrial facilities, and pushing for federal controls on emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry.
All of the members of the new coalition are part a coalition of 25 states, cities and counties led by Attorney General Schneiderman that intervened to defend the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” against legal challenge. Today, the interveners filed a brief with the DC Circuit Court defending President Obama’s Clean Power Plan rule, which establishes a nationwide framework to achieve meaningful and cost effective reductions of carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants—the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation—and provides states and power plants flexibility to decide how best to achieve these reductions.
“With gridlock and dysfunction gripping Washington, it is up to the states to lead on the generation-defining issue of climate change. We stand ready to defend the next president’s climate change agenda, and vow to fight any efforts to roll-back the meaningful progress we’ve made over the past eight years,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Our offices are seriously examining the potential of working together on high-impact, state-level initiatives, such as investigations into whether fossil fuel companies have misled investors about how climate change impacts their investments and business decisions.”
“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. Attorneys General and law enforcement officials around the country have long held a vital role in ensuring that the progress we have made to solve the climate crisis is not only protected, but advanced. The first-of-its-kind coalition announced today is another key step on the path to a sustainable, clean-energy future,” said Vice President Al Gore.
Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said, “We are happy to have worked closely with New York to organize this meeting. As we all know, global warming, if not reversed, will be catastrophic for our planet. We, the states, have a role to play in this endeavor and intend to do our part.”
“The states represented here today have long been working to sound the alarm, to put smart policies in place to speed our transition to a clean energy future, and to stop power plants from emitting millions of tons of dangerous global warming pollution into our air,” saidMassachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “In Massachusetts, we’re a leader in clean energy and together we’re taking a thoughtful, aggressive approach to ensuring our planet’s health for generations to come.”
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, said “I am delighted to meet with so many thoughtful leaders to strategize on ways we can protect our citizens from the greatest threat we collectively face, climate change. I am proud to have worked with them and others in defending the Obama Administration’s action to combat global warming, and look forward to discussing how we can best further that important work. I also appreciate the opportunity to discuss potential future efforts, including the merits of possible joint investigations in this important area.”
U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Earl Walker said, “The Virgin Islands, which is especially vulnerable to environmental threats, has a particular interest in making sure that companies are honest about what they know about climate change. We are committed to ensuring a fair and transparent market where consumers can make informed choices about what they buy and from whom. If ExxonMobil has tried to cloud their judgment, we are determined to hold the company accountable.”
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said, “Climate changes poses an existential threat to Maryland and to the nation. I am proud to join with my colleagues across the country in this important collaboration, and am willing to use every tool at our collective disposal to protect our air, our water and our natural resources. The pledge we are making today can help insure a cleaner and safer future.”
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said, “As a Commonwealth and as a nation, we can’t just put our heads in the sand because we are already confronting the realities of climate change. Hampton Roads is our Commonwealth’s second most populated region, it’s our second biggest economy, and it is the second most vulnerable area in the entire country as climate change drives continued sea-level rise. State government, local governments, and the military are spending millions to prepare for this challenge, and even more significant investment and resiliency measures will be required. I’m proud to have Virginia included in this first-of-its-kind coalition, which recognizes the reality and the pressing threat of manmade climate change and sea level rise. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues to explore opportunities to address climate change, encourage the growth of our clean energy sectors, and build a cleaner, more sustainable future.”
“Taking additional steps to reduce carbon pollution will keep us moving toward cleaner air, a healthier environment, and more affordable energy,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “I look forward to continuing to work with other states to advance the Clean Power Plan, as well as to advocate for a comprehensive portfolio of renewable energy sources and enhancements to energy efficiency programs.”
“Climate change has real and lasting impacts on our environment, public health, and the economy,” said California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. “California has been a national leader in fighting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and I am proud to join this effort to preserve and protect our natural resources for future generations to come.”
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said, “Our natural resources are the lifeblood of our state’s economy and our quality of life. Global climate change demands immediate action and I am committed to using the authority of my office to address the problem in a meaningful way by defending important EPA regulations against attacks led by the coal industry and exploring litigation options that will hold the worst polluters accountable for their actions.”
“Washington is mired by political gridlock. We cannot sit back and watch the dysfunction while nothing gets done, or worse, Washington rolls back the progress we have made in the recent past to address the issue of climate change. If Washington is not going to step up and recognize the crisis and find meaningful solutions, then it will be up to the states to do so,” said Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. “As a state that will incur significant negative impacts from global climate change, including sea-level rise and increased flooding, Rhode Island is committed to continuing the fight for common-sense regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other large emitters.”
“Washington State has long made protecting our environment a top priority,” Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “A problem like climate change is bigger than any one state. I look forward to working with the coalition on innovative solutions to combat and reverse the harmful effects of climate change.”
“Our office has a mandate to protect the public interest, and this includes ensuring that our community is not negatively affected by preventable climate change. We welcome this crucial state-to-state cooperation to ensure that we do everything we can to fight the causes of climate change regardless of whether the federal government continues to partner with us in these efforts or not,” said District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine.
“We have been impacted by climate change, and we see its drastic effects in New Mexico—extreme drought, increased risk of severe forest fires, and the ruin of our wildlife and natural habitats,” Attorney General Balderas said. “Our efforts will ensure that progress is made on climate change and that the public is fully aware of the effects on the health and well-being of New Mexico families,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.