Kansas Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt had some harsh words for Democratic attorneys general who recently joined former Vice President Al Gore to call for more investigations into ExxonMobil’s stance on global warming.
“I want to assure you that the State of Kansas is not participating in the Gore group’s initiative, which one reporter at the New York news conference likened to a ‘publicity stunt,’” Schmidt wrote in a letter to the Kansas Corporation Commission.
Schmidt sent the letter Friday after 17 Democratic attorneys general met in New York City to announce they would fight to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called Clean Power Plan from legal challenges. New York AG Eric Schneiderman, who led the group, also called for more investigations into Exxon’s alleged misleading of the public over global warming science.
Currently, New York, California, Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands are investigating Exxon’s activities surrounding global warming, which are all inspired by reporting from InsideClimate News and Columbia University. Schmidt said he would not be joining the other AGs in investigating Exxon.
“Eleven of the 17 attorneys general who participated are the same folks who took part in the 2010 sue-and-settle lawsuit that used federal courts to try to force the adoption of the federal energy regulations that became the ‘Power Plan,’” Schmidt wrote.
“If anything was ‘unprecedented’ about the event this week it was the strictly partisan nature of announcing state ‘law enforcement’ operations in the presence of a former vice president of the United State who, presumably, has no role in the enforcement of the 17 states’ securities or consumer protection laws,” he wrote.
At the AG event, Gore claimed Exxon was committing “fraud” by supposedly covering up, for decades, science about how bad global warming would get all while funding groups opposed to energy regulations and those skeptical of climate science.
New York AG Schneiderman even suggested harsher punishments than financial penalties for companies that mislead the public on global warming.
“Financial damages alone may be insufficient,” Schneiderman said during the Tuesday event in New York City Tuesday. “The First Amendment does not give you the right to commit fraud.”
For months, Democratic politicians have been calling for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, investigation into groups they see as casting doubt on the theory of catastrophic global warming. RICO is what the DOJ used to go after the tobacco industry for misleading the public about the dangers of smoking.
“But, this vast denial apparatus that propagates the false doubt, that props up the phony science, that gets these yahoos who can’t survive … peer-reviewed scrutiny onto Fox News, onto the cable shows, saying that their scientists, they create an artificial conflict about this and that’s why I think there’s doubt,” Rhode Island Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the main proponent of using RICO against skeptics and fossil fuel groups, told attendees at a League of Conservation Voters event in 2015.
“A lot of people haven’t seen through the scam that’s being perpetrated,” Whitehouse said. “So that’s one of the reasons I hope that we get another lawsuit out of the Department of Justice, like the one they brought against the tobacco industry that showed that the whole fraudulent scam was a racketeering enterprise, held them accountable for it.”
There are, however, major constitutional concerns with launching a RICO probe into groups who disagree with Democrats on global warming. Either way, Schmidt pledged not to go along with the Democratic crusade against Exxon.
“In Kansas, we won’t take our eye off the ball,” Schmidt wrote. “The federal administration’s attempt to impose central economic planning over our nation’s energy sector threatens to significantly drive up the cost of electricity for hard-working Kansas families and businesses.”
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