Bucks County Commissioner Reverses Previous Support For Climate Change Lawsuit

The change comes after the GOP commissioner had supported the lawsuit.

Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo talking at a 2023 event.
Credit: Tom Sofield/

Bucks County Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo has backed off supporting the climate change lawsuit he endorsed and spoke in favor of a little more than a week prior.

On Wednesday at the Bucks County Commissioners’ meeting, DiGirolamo, a Republican from Bensalem Township, announced he “would like to withdraw my support for the lawsuit.”

At the meeting, DiGirolamo had few words on the decision and said he made his decision after “considering this for the past seven or eight days.”

The commissioner, a longtime GOP politician who hasn’t been afraid to vote with the Democratic majority at times, did not return a request for further comment on his change.

Two Republican sources said DiGirolamo’s shift comes after his support of the lawsuit annoyed some Republican officials. It also follows a backlash on social media by some conservatives and an opinion piece published in the conservative-learning Delaware Valley Journal.

A January 2024 Pew poll found that just 12 percent of Republicans and those that leaned conservative believed tackling climate change should be the top priority for the federal government. A spring 2023 poll found 54 percent of Republicans supported the U.S. taking part in international efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change.

DiGirolamo and Democratic commissioners Diane Ellis-Marseglia and Bob Harvie all won reelection last year.

Last week, the county, with the support of the Bucks County Commissioners – two Democrats and DiGirolamo – filed the lawsuit against a number of major fossil fuel companies under the claim that the firms deceived the public about their “chief product’s role in accelerating the climate crisis.” The lawsuit was filed under claims of liability, negligent product liability, negligence, nuisance, trespass, and civil conspiracy.

Commissioner Bob Harvie answering a reporter’s question last week while announcing the lawsuit.
Credit: Tom Sofield/

Bucks County contends that the ongoing and future impacts of climate change, including worsening storms, heatwaves, and floods made worse by the rising waters of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, will continually pose risks and cost taxpayers.

The county is represented in the case by the law firm DiCello Levitt. The county won’t be paying the firm unless the county receives damages or a settlement, Bucks County Solicitor Amy Fitzpatrick said.

Even with DiGirolamo’s position change, the lawsuit continues to move forward.

At last Monday’s press conference announcing lawsuit, DiGirolamo, who comes from a farming family, spoke at length about the impacts of climate change on the county. He said he worried about future impacts.

Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo talks about the lawsuit last week.
Credit: Tom Sofield/

“I’ll be very honest with you,” DiGirolamo said last week. “We had some really bad weather back in the 60s and 70s and 80s when I was farming. I just never remember the extreme weather conditions that we’ve had here, not only in Bucks County, but I mean throughout the region and throughout the country. How many people it has affected?”

“This is something what we have to fix,” DiGirolamo said. “For our children and our grandchildren, and I often think of them, we have to protect them and we’ve got to do something together.”

When asked by reporters, DiGirolamo said he thought climate change was not a political issue.

Andy Warren, a former GOP county commissioner, questioned the logic behind the county’s lawsuit. However, he noted that he briefly “scanned” an article on the lawsuit, but wasn’t fully aware of its contents.

“We got to have more substantial things to do in Bucks County than start a crusade in Bucks County against oil companies,” he said.

While there were many comments on social media criticizing the commissioners for the lawsuit, aside from a regular group of public comment speakers at Wednesday’s meeting, no newcomers spoke out against the lawsuit.

Beth Curcio, a Warminster Township resident who often speaks at the meetings, condemned the county for the lawsuit. She noted that fossil fuels are used to create power and make many products, adding that the commissioners were being pressured to filed the lawsuit and that it was part of a larger “Marxist agenda.” Further, she called on the commissioners to sue pharmaceutical companies, an agrochemical company, and the water companies for using fluoride.

“We are living in very demonic times,” she said.

Curcio is a vocal opponent of the Democratic and Republican commissioners and past COVID-19 policies. She previously has spoke about vaccine-related conspiracies, asked the taxpayers to cover her parking ticket in Doylestown Borough, said the elections are “stolen,” implied that the county’s comprehensive development plan was tied to a nefarious global plot, and said the Vatican was “hijacked” by the New World Order in order to traffic children.

Harvie, the vice chairperson of the commissioners, said the lawsuit is important to cover costs in Bucks County that are due to climate change.

Earlier this year, Ellis-Marseglia, the commissioners’ chairperson, said she would be focusing on fighting climate change in her current term.

In the wake of the lawsuit being filed, the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group for oil and natural gas firms, called the county’s claims in the lawsuit “meritless” and “politicized.”

About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for 12 years for both newspaper and online publications. Tom’s reporting has appeared locally, nationally, and internationally across several mediums. He is proud to report on news in the county where he lives and to have created a reliable publication that the community deserves.

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