California Sen. Kamala Harris said Wednesday that, as president, she would direct the Department of Justice to go after oil and gas companies who have directly impacted global warming, telling the audience at a CNN town hall that she will “take them to court and sue them.”
Harris, a former prosecutor, said “people who profit off harmful behaviors” need to have a financial reason to change their behavior.
“When you take away that money because you take them to court and sue them, as I have done, it’s extraordinary how they will change behaviors,” Harris said. “They have to be held accountable. Maybe this is the prosecutor in me. They have to be held accountable.”
She added: “These are bad behaviors. They are causing harm and death in communities. And there has been no accountability. Certainly not by this administration. Nor, and I hate to say it so generally, by the Republicans in Congress.”
Asked directly if she would sue a company like ExxonMobil, Harris said yes.
“Yes,” she said. “And they’re going to pay fines and they are going to pay fees.”
Harris’ written plan, which was released this week, also harkens back to her time as a prosecutor, especially when she helped California win an $85 million settlement with Volkswagen for cheating on emissions tests for its diesel vehicles.
If she becomes President, Harris’ plan states, she will increase penalties for companies that violate federal pollution laws and restoring the “polluter pays” model for funding the Superfund program.