Last week, Jasmine Gallup wrote about how climate change is affecting North Carolina and its most vulnerable communities and how much the impacts of global warming have and will cost taxpayers over the coming decades. North Carolina state reps. Julie von Haefen (D-Wake) and Marcia Morey (D-Durham) had some thoughts about the piece.

Oil and gas giants must help pay for climate costs in North Carolina.

Jasmine Gallup’s recent article speaks to a dire reality that we, as elected leaders in North Carolina, have all witnessed in our communities: those hit first and worst by climate change are also least resourced to respond to the increasingly costly damage. Communities across the state will need to find a way to weather the coming storms, and the costs Gallup names are just a start.

But the big question still remains: Why are frontline communities still footing the bill on their own? 

Just 100 companies—most of them oil and gas companies—are responsible for over 71 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change since 1988, according to the latest Carbon Majors Report. 

Oil and gas giants have known since the 1960s that their fossil fuel products would cause dangerous climate impacts, but spent decades undermining climate science and lying to lawmakers and the public to prevent policies that would threaten their business-as-usual. Oil executives continued to line their pockets while efforts to address climate change remained at a standstill—and our communities were hung out to dry (or drown, as the case may be). 

That history was highlighted at the first-ever congressional hearing on climate disinformation this past October. The executives of oil giants Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP America, and others faced questions from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform about their past and ongoing efforts to mislead Americans and delay climate action.

Fossil fuel companies must be held accountable for the climate-driven damage now plaguing our communities in North Carolina. It’s long past time for this industry to pay its fair share—our  infrastructure, livelihoods, homes, and safety all depend on it.

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