Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and AGs from across the nation today announced formation of a coalition committed to aggressively protecting and building upon the recent progress the United States has made in combatting climate change.
“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,” Herring said. Herring and the other AGs were joined by former Vice President Al Gore for the announcement in New York City.
“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,” he said.
Others involved in the coalition are New York AG Eric T. Schneiderman, William Sorrell of Vermont, George Jepsen of Connecticut, Brian E. Frosh of Maryland, Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Claude Walker of the U.S. Virgin Islands
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 reduction.
“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 former Vice President Gore.