Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said she would sue oil and gas companies for “harmful behaviors” if she was elected president.
“It’s not a question of debating the science. It’s a question of taking on powerful interests, taking on the polluters; understanding that they have a profit motive to pollute and so let’s take them to court and let’s require that if they don’t change their behaviors they will pay those fines and there will be accountability and consequences,” Harris said at a CNN climate town hall on Wednesday evening.
An audience member asked Harris how she would respond to companies like ExxonMobil reportedly disseminating “disinformation” about climate change if she was elected president.
“This is what we did with the tobacco companies. We sued them. We took them to court because you know what happens, people who profit off of harmful behaviors, when you take away that money because you take them to court and you sue them, as I have done, it’s extraordinary how they will change behaviors,” Harris said. “They have to be held accountable. And maybe this is the prosecutor in me. They have to be held accountable. These are bad behaviors. They are causing harm and death in communities.”
She continued, “There has been no accountability. Certainly not by this administration. Nor, and I hate to say it so generally, by the Republicans in Congress.”
Harris specifically said she would sue ExxonMobil if she became president.
“Yes, I have sued ExxonMobil,” she said. “Yes, I would take them on.”
Harris also pledged to set a government ban on gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2045.
“By my plan by 2045 we would have basically zero emissions vehicles only, 100 percent,” she said. “The private sector is really good about saying, ‘If you as government are consistent with your rules and you set a standard we will innovate and find a way to meet it.'”
Harris also said students will ride on electric buses by 2030 under her environmental plan.
“25 million children in our country a day ride school buses smelling those fumes. These are really issues. We can do something about it,” she said.