From world-renowned body-builder and actor to the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger has earned himself a long list of titles throughout his career, and now he’s planning to add another.
On Sunday, the former governor-turned-environmental activist announced he will be taking on oil companies for the damage they reportedly caused worldwide and “for knowingly killing people all over the world.”
The announcement came at the 2018 South by Southwest Film Festival festival during a live recording of Politico’s “Off Message” podcast. Schwarzenegger said he and several other private law firms are getting ready to start publicizing the effort in earnest.
Schwarzenegger and those working with him will be highlighting what he claims has been, and continues to be, a growing problem in Big Oil.
“This is no different from the smoking issue,” Schwarzenegger said. “The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades, that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and were hiding that fact from the people and denied it.”
“Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that,” he added. “The oil companies … did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels, and on top of it that it would be risky for people’s lives, that it would kill.”
In step with the actor’s words, The Wilderness Society suggests that the way in which these resources are extracted has a negative effect on the environment — from the animals and the lands they inhabit to the corruption of the people who make the deals that affect citizens further down the line.
The disruption of migration routes and habitats of the native wildlife, as well as oil spills and landscape modifications, are just some of the many changes environmental activists point to when criticizing Big Oil.
Though Schwarzenegger’s comments are sure to cause both controversy and praise, Global Witness reported that oil and mining companies are the biggest transgressors when it comes to corruption and deflection.
The fear of corporations like oil companies holding such influence fueled the Publish What You Pay act, where Big Oil was required to make all payments transparent so that they could no longer hide unwanted or secret spending that might have repercussions.
And though the act aimed to give citizens a say over how, why, or when their resources are extracted, Schwarzenegger said he believes there is still be a long way to go when it comes to shifting the tide from oil dependence to efficient — and clean — resources that don’t harm the environment.
He admitted that a timeline for the filing of legal documents is still in the works, though his announcement could essentially serve as a doorway into a much larger conversation he intends to have when hosting an environmental conference in Vienna this May.
On top of the other factors he listed, the former governor insisted that, at the very least, he hopes the conversation around this issue will raise awareness about fossil fuels and eventually lead people to more energy-efficient cars and alternative fuels.
“We’re going to go after them, and we’re going to be in there like an Alabama tick. Because to me it’s absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco,” Schwarzenegger said. “Every gas station on it, every car should have a warning label on it, every product that has fossil fuels should have a warning label on it.”
He even likened what the oil companies are doing to “first-degree murder.”
“I don’t think there’s any difference: If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it’s first-degree murder; I think it’s the same thing with the oil companies,” he stated.
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