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The week in climate policy: 4 updates you need to know

New York is charging fossil fuel companies for climate change; California sues Big Oil for greenwashing and misleading consumers.

A picture of the New York State house

In the New York State House in Albany, the State Assembly passed the Climate Change Superfund Act. Photo: Shutterstock/James Kirkikis

Here are the major climate policy developments for the week of June 10-14:

  • The New York State Assembly passed the Climate Change Superfund Act, which will require fossil fuel companies to pay for the costs associated with climate change mitigation projects. Once signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul, the bill will create a 25-year fund that will be financed by the targeted companies. Oil companies will likely mount legal opposition to the law; Bruce White, attorney at Barnes & Thornburg LLP in Chicago, told the National Review that the fossil fuel sector "is expected to argue that the liability is being selectively imposed." At least four other states are considering similar climate superfund legislation.  
  • California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a lawsuit against the American Petroleum Institute, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell for profiting from false advertising and greenwashing. "Big Oil continues to mislead us with their lies and mistruths, and we won’t stand for that," said Bonta in a press release. The suit charges that advertising from the fossil fuel companies used misleading words such as "clean" and "green" to mislead consumers. The misleading marketing include terms such as "low carbon" and "emissions-reducing," to indicate that fossil fuels can be used in benign ways, according to the lawsuit. 
  • The U.S. Senate voted in three new commissioners to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) this week, restoring FERC to five full commissioners. FERC oversees and regulates interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil, a function that places it in the middle of the U.S. clean energy transition.  
  • The congressional Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law held a hearing following the release of a report alleging that Climate Action 100+ and other investors colluded to invest in ESG. Representatives from Climate Action 100+, Ceres, Arjuna Capital and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System were called to answer questions about their alleged attempts of "colluding on decarbonization." "Institutional investors and financial professionals must continue to have freedom to weigh the full spectrum of risk to the value of their investments," said Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison at the hearing, "Both the logic of the market and the law support their doing so."

[Supercharge your impact alongside other visionaries, experts and innovators leading the way to a regenerative future at VERGE 24, Oct. 29-31, San Jose.]

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