Brooklyn state Sen. Zellnor Myrie wants to make it easier for New Yorkers to sue oil and gas companies and collect civil damages based on the damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
And to do so, he's proposed legislation that is modeled after an anti-abortion law in Texas.
Myrie on Monday announced a bill that is meant to expand the eligibility to file a civil suit against the firms by defining "climate negligence" as an act of knowingly or recklessly endangering the health or safety of the public.
Any person who can claim harm would be able to recover civil damages in state courts. The measure also contains provisions that would block the companies from false or deceptive advertising.
"The effects of climate change in New York — especially in communities like mine — are undeniable," Myrie said. "We are quickly running out of time to reverse this climate emergency, and my legislation gives ordinary New Yorkers a chance to hold bad actors in the fossil fuel industry accountable for decades of negligence and denial."
The proposal is modeled after a 2021 Texas law that allows any person to make civil claims for damages against abortion providers or anyone who assists with a woman obtaining an abortion after a pregnancy enters its sixth week.
"Make no mistake — Texas' odious abortion law is wrong-headed and dangerous," Myrie said. "But if legislators can use private rights of action to cause harm and restrict access to healthcare, we should also be able to use this concept to save our planet and protect our lives. My message to the fossil fuel industry is simple: you will be held accountable for the damage you cause to New York's environment. I look forward to advancing this critical legislation."