Raskin Leads 60 Members in Opposing Climate Change "Immunity Grabs" by Fossil Fuel Industry in COVID-19 Legislation

May 5, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) today led 60 House Members in urging House leadership to continue opposing efforts by fossil fuel companies to use COVID-19 relief legislation as a vehicle for obtaining legal immunity for their role in the climate crisis. Language that would have immunized fossil fuel companies engaging in “covered activities” was mysteriously included in an initial draft of the third COVID-19 relief package. Although this brazen effort was defeated in the final bill, news reports suggest that fossil fuel companies are continuing to lobby for language that would absolve them of any accountability for their destabilizing our ecosystem and trashing the environment.

“The nation’s efforts to respond to one catastrophic global crisis should not be the occasion to immunize polluters from the legal consequences of helping create another catastrophic global crisis,” said Rep. Raskin. “We must respond with speed, wisdom, and foresight to help our constituents survive this public health calamity and put the nation back on its feet. Shielding the carbon polluters from legal accountability does not belong on our agenda.  It is an irrelevant and dangerous distraction from the task at hand.”

The Members wrote: “…Fossil fuel companies have known for more than 50 years that their industrial emissions were causing cataclysmic environmental consequences. Instead of alerting the public, they launched a decades-long campaign of denial, deceit and disinformation that succeeded in forestalling meaningful government action to avert climate change. We now face the reality of climate chaos and the need to undertake aggressive and costly policy changes—with very little time to accomplish them before it is too late.”

The Members continued: “Climate adaptation and restoration from decades of burning fossil fuels will cost in the trillions of dollars. A study by the Center for Climate Integrity and Resilient Analytics found that just the most basic coastal defenses for the lower 48 states will cost more than $400 billion over the next twenty years, and 132 coastal counties face an exorbitant bill amounting to more than $1 billion. If the fossil fuel companies do not pay their fair share, these overwhelming costs will fall onto our communities which are already facing profound economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A copy of the letter is available here.

The letter is co-signed by the following House Members: Jamie Raskin, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Julia Brownley, André Carson, Kathy Castor, David N. Cicilline, Yvette D. Clarke, Steve Cohen, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Gerald E. Connolly, Diana DeGette, Lloyd Doggett, Veronica Escobar, Anna G. Eshoo, Adriano Espaillat, Bill Foster, Jesús G. "Chuy" García, Jimmy Gomez, Raúl M. Grijalva, Deb Haaland, Alcee L. Hastings, Jared Huffman, Jahana Hayes, Pramila Jayapal, Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr., William R. Keating, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, Andy Levin, Mike Levin, Alan Lowenthal, Stephen F. Lynch, A. Donald McEachin, James P. McGovern, Grace Meng, Gwen S. Moore, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Grace F. Napolitano, Joe Neguse, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, Mike Quigley, Jan Schakowsky, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, José E. Serrano, Donna E. Shalala, Darren Soto, Mark Takano, Rashida Tlaib, Lori Trahan, Nydia M. Velázquez, Juan Vargas, and Peter Welch.

The letter is supported by the following environmental organizations: Sierra Club, Natural Resources 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 Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.

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