A group of Vermont politicians have joined a nationwide network of leaders looking to hold corporate polluters accountable.
Leaders for Climate Accountability was launched in March, and more than 100 elected officials and advocates across the country have since joined.
Vermont’s new members said the group’s goals have a lot of overlap with their own work. Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson said climate change is an issue she’s tried to keep in the spotlight in the Capital City.
“The oil industry knew about climate change, knew what it was going to do and lied about it,” Mayor Watson said. “Taxpayers have been paying for the impacts of climate change, and really, big oil needs to be held accountable for their lies.”
This year, Vermont became the sixth state in the nation to file a lawsuit against major fossil fuel companies for lying about their products’ role in climate change. State Sen. Andrew Perchlik said if there’s any way the Vermont Legislature can bolster that effort, he’s all in. There’s a host of other climate-related decisions set to be made next year as well.
“We have the Climate Action Plan which had something like 230 recommendations, but in particular I think there’s a few that rise to the top as being really important that we can really benefit from,” Perchlik said. “Clean fuel standards are one of those things that would help us transition from fossil fuels for all our heating to clean and renewable fuel.”
Rep. Brian Cina is also a new member of Leaders for Climate Accountability. He said the corporations, individuals and families who have benefitted most from the fossil fuel industry need to be held accountable for the hardship its placed on others.
“The impact of the fossil fuel industry and other elements of our extractive economy have not been equal,” Cina said. “Some groups of people have been harmed more than others by our economy. In the creation of a just transition to a new economy, we have to make sure we take into account equity.”
Other members from Vermont include State Sen. Christopher Pearson, State Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, State Rep. Taylor Small and Burlington City Councilor Jane Stromberg.