Myrie, a Brooklyn native, claimed that he modeled the proposed bill after Texas' heartbeat law, which bans abortion after six weeks' gestation. While Myrie referred to the Texas law as "odious" and "dangerous," he argued that private citizens should be able to bring legal action against oil and gas companies for damages related to fossil fuels.
"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," Myrie told the State of Politics. "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."
The proposal would reportedly target oil and gas companies with annual revenues of $1 billion or more that demonstrate "climate negligence" while "engaged in extracting, storing, transporting, refining, importing, exporting, producing, manufacturing, distributing, compounding, marketing, or offering for wholesale or retail sale" of a fossil fuel product.
The legislation would impose no statute of limitations.
Myrie's bill claimed that, since 1751, 63% of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere came from "90 entities." He alleged that oil companies have known for decades that fossil fuel products contribute to climate change. Myrie argued that the fossil fuel industry's negligence has caused "specific harm to all New Yorkers, especially those in black and brown communities."
"The costs of inaction are so high – more homes destroyed by worsening floods, more lives ruined by chronic asthma and extreme heat that threatens us all. It's time for regular New Yorkers to say enough is enough," Myrie told the New York Post.
Critics of the bill argued that the legislation is impractical and will only succeed in lining the pockets of lawyers.
Attorney Ryan McCall of Tully Rinckey told the Post, "It's going to be similar, in my opinion, to any other personal injury action, where we're gonna need to get medical experts that are going to be able to say, as a result of this specific emission, that this type of injury happened to you."
"You would begin to see a flood of litigation when it comes to these types of environmental cases like we haven't seen before," McCall added.
Ken Pokalsky, vice president of the Business Council of New York, told the Post that Myrie's bill would be unrealistic to implement.
"We're not going to eliminate the [fossil fuel] use anytime in the immediate future. We're dependent on it – but you're gonna say the person who provides this essential product is going to be financially liable for it?" said Pokalsky.