Pennsylvania lawmaker attempts to block climate lawsuits

Source: By Lesley Clark, E&E News • Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2024

A state senator wants to cut off funding for counties that sue oil companies to collect compensation for climate change.

A Seneca Resources shale gas well drilling site.

A Seneca Resources shale gas well drilling site is seen in St. Marys, Pennsylvania. Keith Srakocic/AP

The first government-led climate lawsuit in Pennsylvania against the oil and gas industry has sparked a backlash.

State Sen. Gene Yaw, a Republican who chairs the Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee, is proposing a law that would bar local governments that pursue litigation against oil companies from receiving a share of the state’s oil revenues.

The move comes as Bucks County in March became the first Pennsylvania locale to sue the fossil fuel industry to pay up for climate impacts, joining a sprawling legal fight launched by more than two dozen local governments across the nation. The county, located just outside Philadelphia, argues that oil executives misled the public for decades about the dangers of burning fossil fuels.

Yaw’s legislation would prohibit distribution of fees generated from natural gas development to any county that is suing over fossil fuel use.