The opposition to investigations targeting of global warming skeptics is growing as newspapers, scientists and red state attorneys general come out against liberal prosecutors looking to silence those they believe to be misleading the public on climate science.
“Climate change campaigners argue the seriousness of the issue means extreme measures are warranted, but the exact opposite is the case,” reads a recent Financial Times editorial in opposition to investigations by liberal attorneys general into ExxonMobil and others.
“It is precisely because the stakes are so high that all arguments must be heard. The actions by the attorney-generals can only degrade the quality of that debate,” wrote FT’s editorial board.
The Financial Times isn’t alone in their opposition into climate investigations started by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat. The U.K.-based paper joins a growing chorus of critics to Schneiderman’s “witch hunt” — the mantle of which has now been taken up by AGs in California, Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. joined FT in condemning liberal AGs’ probes into Exxon’s global warming stance, which have also ensared a libertarian think tank and a right-leaning PR firm. Pielke, no skeptic of global warming, researched climate issues until Democratic lawmakers targeted him in their own investigation in 2015. After that, he largely stopped publishing on climate.
— Roger Pielke Jr. (@RogerPielkeJr) April 24, 2016
Judith Curry, a climate scientist at Georgia Tech University, joined Pielke in condemning government prosecutors going after skeptics and oil companies for disagreements over science. Curry is a well-respected scientist and prominent skeptic of catastrophic man-made global warming.
Climate change skeptics must be able to speak out. Govt should not act to suppress views it doesn’t agree with https://t.co/CdYuAlDIM9
— Judith Curry (@curryja) April 24, 2016
Schneiderman and other state AGs recently held an event where they coordinated with top environmentalists on how to go about promoting federal global warming regulations and further their investigation into Exxon’s alleged misleading of the public on global warming.
It was in the wake of that meeting that Virgin Islands AG Claude Walked issued a subpoena to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a libertarian think tank, for its alleged ties to Exxon. Walker’s subpoena asked for 20 years of records from CEI, which the think tank is challenging in court.
“Court rulings make it clear that broad subpoenas aimed at restricting speech, especially in the context of policy debates, are invalid,” CEI president Kent Lassman and counsel Sam Kazman wrote in a Washington Post oped. “Time and again, the Supreme Court has held that the remedy for unwanted speech is more speech in response.”
“The chief law-enforcement officers of several states should know better, but their reaction to a dissenting policy position is punitive, coercive and unconstitutional,” they wrote.
Schneiderman’s and Walker’s investigations were 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 in fines.
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. Now, Democrats and activists want this law, created to take down organized crime rackets, to prosecute their political opponents.
Republican attorneys general have come out against investigations into skeptics, and constitutional lawyers have cautioned that these probes could be used to restrict free speech.
“Democrats — in the US the climate debate has become rigidly partisan — might applaud the attorney-generals’ actions now, but would be appalled if similar tactics were used by Republican officials in debates over abortion or gun control,” wrote FT’s editorial board.
“Opponents of action on climate change have also used the law to harass their opponents, for example in the investigation into the University of Virginia launched by the state’s attorney-general in 2010, but that is no defence. It is not in anyone’s interest for such tactics to be legitimised,” the editorial board wrote.
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