The day before Pennsylvania voters cast their votes in the primary election, the leading Democratic candidate for attorney general has confirmed to ThinkProgress that, if elected, he would join a growing coalition of state attorneys general in examining whether fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil have purposefully misled the public on climate change.
“Climate change is one of our world’s most pressing issues and and I’ve made addressing it a top priority in my campaign and have pledged to hold the fracking industry accountable for violating Pennsylvania’s environmental laws,” Josh Shapiro, who according to the most recent polling from Harper Poll leads the current Democratic attorney general race by almost 20 points, told ThinkProgress via an emailed statement. “I applaud [New York Attorney General Eric] Schneiderman and the 16 other state Attorneys General who are investigating Exxon Mobil for misleading investors about climate change. As Attorney General, I will join them in looking closely at whether fossil fuel companies like Exxon Mobil have violated Pennsylvania’s laws.”
ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company, is currently under investigation for knowingly misleading the public on climate change. Earlier last year, both Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times published investigations chronicling how Exxon knew as far back as 1977 that their product was contributing to climate change. New York Attorney General Schneiderman was the first to officially announce his intention to investigate Exxon’s history of climate misinformation in November of 2015. Since then, attorneys general from California, Connecticut, D.C., Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have joined Schneiderman in his inquiry.
Last month, Shapiro wrote an editorial for the Pennsylvania newspaper the Intelligencer stating that, if elected, he would look for opportunities to bring litigation against fracking companies that violate environmental laws.
“As attorney general, I will pursue criminal cases against frackers as well as settlements that are more than a slap on the wrist,” he wrote. “I’ll also use the bully pulpit to advocate for tougher penalties for companies that repeatedly violate laws and regulations.”
ThinkProgress reached out to the other candidates for Pennsylvania attorney general — both Democrat and Republican — to see whether they would also pledge to join the investigation if elected. No other campaign responded to the request as of publication.