Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse praised a recently published op-ed arguing global warming skeptics should be “punished” by the federal government.
Whitehouse took to Twitter to voice his support for the oped by Michael Kraft, a communications professor at the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay, which argues “[t]hose who intentionally misled the public about climate change should be held accountable.”
Kraft writes “denying the best scientific evidence we have is neither smart nor safe” which says “could lead to greater societal harm than if we had taken sensible action when reliable knowledge was first available.” Kraft then calls for government prosecutors to go after energy companies and even suggests investigating think tanks and nonprofits.
“Some ask whether such inquiries should be limited to fossil fuel companies,” he wrote. “What about extending the liability, they say, to certain think tanks and advocacy groups?”
Kraft also cites calls by Whitehouse himself to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, to go after energy companies for allegedly misleading the public on global warming.
“Members of Congress have asked the Justice Department to pursue charges under RICO against major fossil fuel companies for knowingly deceiving the public — and investors — about the dangers of climate change when their own studies showed the reality of the threat,” Kraft wrote. “Under questioning by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Attorney General Loretta Lynch revealed she has referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for study.”
Kraft’s op-ed comes after the attorney general (AG) of the U.S. Virgin Islands subpoenaed the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a libertarian think, for records going back 20 years as part of a racketeering investigation into the oil company ExxonMobil.
The Virgin Islands AG is just one of several looking into Exxon’s financial disclosures and political activities after left-wing reporters at InsideClimate News and Columbia University published articles claiming the oil company was basically trying to cover up global warming science.
“CEI will vigorously fight to quash this subpoena,” CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman said in a statement Friday. “It is an affront to our First Amendment rights of free speech and association for Attorney General Walker to bring such intimidating demands against a nonprofit group.”
So far, the Department of Justice has not launched an investigation into global warming skeptics. Regardless, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is determined to investigate those who question global warming and suggested financial penalties weren’t harsh enough of a punishment for dissenters.
“Financial damages alone may be insufficient,” Eric Schneiderman said during the event with other attorneys general in New York City in April. “The First Amendment does not give you the right to commit fraud.”
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