New York AG Tried To Cover Up Activist Involvement In Exxon Probe
Democratic attorneys general met behind the scenes with environmental activists during a meeting to discuss ways to go after oil giant ExxonMobil for allegedly misleading the public about global warming. And then they tried to cover it up.
The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained emails showing the New York attorney general’s office invited two prominent environmental activists to give presentations to a group of state prosecutors about “climate change litigation” and the “imperative of taking action now on climate change.”
Eco-activists gave these presentations behind closed doors the same day New York AG Eric Schneiderman was joined by more than a dozen other attorneys general and former Vice President Al Gore in condemning Exxon for “fraud” and “deceiving the American people.”
Emails also show Schneiderman’s staff told environmentalists coming to lecture state AGs on global warming to not confirm their attendance of the closed-door meetings.
“What should I say if she asks if I attended?” Matt Pawa, an activist lawyer who works with the Climate Accountability Institute and the Global Warming Legal Action Project, wrote to Lem Srolovic, who heads the New York Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau in a March 2016 email.
“My ask is if you speak to the reporter, to not confirm that you attended or otherwise discuss the event,” Srolovic replied.
Pawa had apparently been asked if he was attending the March meeting by a Wall Street Journal reporter. Srolovic wanted to keep Pawa’s involvement on a need to know basis. Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, was the other activist invited to attend the meeting.
“These emails show Schneiderman’s office suggested their outside-activist green allies deceive the press; meanwhile, AGs in his coalition have subpoenaed at least one policy group’s correspondence with the media,” David Schnare, general counsel with the Energy & Environment Legal Institute said in a statement.
E&E Legal obtained the emails through a public records request in the wake of U.S. Virgin Islands AG Claude Walker issuing a subpoena for 20 years of records from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank. Walker attended Schneiderman’s March meeting, where he announced his intention to investigate Exxon.
Schneiderman’s March meeting comes after the liberal AG launched an investigation into whether or not Exxon was accurately portraying to shareholders the risks global warming poses to the company’s operations.
The investigation was prompted by reports by InsideClimate News and Columbia University alleging Exxon was misleading the public about global warming. Reports claim to show Exxon knew oil production would make global warming worse, but continued to conduct business and fund groups skeptical of global warming regulations.
InsideClimate and Columbia reports are meant to draw parallels between fossil fuel companies and the tobacco industry. In 1999, the federal government filed suit against tobacco companies, which eventually led to a conviction and millions of dollars being paid out.
For months, Democratic politicians and environmentalists 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.
“We call on these AGs to immediately halt their investigation and lay out for the public the full extent of this collusion, producing all records or information provided them in briefings or other work with the outside activists, including those they are trying to keep secret through a Common Interest Agreement,” Schnare said.
Schnare’s comments refer to attempts by the New York and Vermont AGs to “claim privilege for discussions and emails even with outside groups in this effort to go after shared political opponents, including each state that receives an open records request immediately alerting the rest to that fact” as part of a common interest agreement. Vermont actually objected to this because it was against state law.
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