New York Bill: Citizens could sue fossil fuel companies directly
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March 7, 2023
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New York Bill: Citizens could sue fossil fuel companies directly

The blog discusses new bill in New York that could allow citizens to sue fossil fuel companies directly and its implications.

New York Bill: Citizens could sue fossil fuel companies directly

The bill proposal

A bill proposed in New York can allow people and organisations to sue fossil fuel companies for environmental negligence and their role in climate change. The bill currently sits in the Assembly committee and if approved, it can help bring more legislative power to the people in their fight against climate change. In the bill, it is stated that:

“New Yorkers should have the ability to hold those responsible for climate change accountable for their deceptive practices and the cataclysmic impacts these practices have yielded. This bill seeks to provide them with that opportunity.”

The reasoning behind the bill stands as a conclusion from other laws in place which grant New Yorkers the right to a clean air, water and safe environment. The bill argues that fossil fuel companies have known the devastating effects that their impact would have on climate change and yet, they have not cut their emissions, in most cases. Based on this, they can now be held legally accountable by New Yorkers because they’re directly violating their legal rights by not acting on the imperatives given by climate scientists.  One of the most important points is the second one in the section of obligations of fossil fuel companies:

“2. Each fossil fuel industry member in New York state shall establish and utilize reasonable controls and procedures to prevent its qualified products from creating, maintaining or contributing, whether directly or indirectly, to a condition in New York state that endangers the safety or health of the public including, but not limited to, climate change.”

New York Bill


Failure to meet this point in the bill will leave fossil fuel companies open to a lawsuit by any New Yorker who’s quality of life has been affected by a company’s inability to meet the above obligation. This bill can be a step in the right direction which will finally provide a direct, legal avenue for those citizens who are directly or indirectly affected by the actions of fossil fuel companies. Holding these companies accountable to the damage that they cause should incentive them to meet their obligations laid down in the bill, obligations which when met, will help reduce their negative effect in climate change and the immediate environment. This bill would give citizens the opportunity to seek compensation for damages caused by fossil fuel companies, such as the destruction of natural habitats, the displacement of communities, and the health impacts associated with air and water pollution. This bill would create a financial disincentive for fossil fuel companies to keep polluting since they’d probably risk losing far more money on legal protection alone. This can lead to a shift in company policy towards reduced climate and environmental impact. The bill would also help raise public awareness by making climate change and its effects more tangible. The public would get more involved and having a direct legal avenue could be a great way to make otherwise disenfranchised voices, be heard. Lastly, we can hope that the bill, by discouraging fossil fuel emissions, it might help raise funding for renewable energy instead. In conclusion, this bill is a step forward in a right direction. If approved, it can help restrict the movement of many fossil fuel companies which would be held accountable directly by the citizens themselves.