A New York judge denied a conservative legal group access to a trove of emails between wealthy environmentalists and attorneys general involved in an ExxonMobil probe.
New York County Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez refused Tuesday to sift through memos between New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, deciding the emails were appropriate to the Exxon investigation.
Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FME Law)’s requested the emails through New York’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). The group argued Schneiderman’s emails could reveal the political nature of the Democrat’s investigation, which involves determining whether the oil company hid decades’ worth of information about global warming from the public.
“The judge’s refusal to examine those records in camera, or to even consider the recent decision of his fellow judge from Texas, renders this a reversible error,” Chaim Mandelbaum, FME Law Executive Director, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “As such, FME expects to appeal in the coming weeks.”
Schneiderman’s probes were based on reports from liberal-leaning media outlets InsideClimate News and Columbia University, which claim Exxon has known the risks of global warming for decades but kept such knowledge under wraps.
Susanne Rust, one of the lead researchers responsible for Columbia’s Exxon reports, has been criticized in the past for allowing her environmental activism to dictate her research on the oil company, among other issues.
Federal regulators dismissed much of Rust’s research showing that an additive called BPA found in plastic bottles can poison foods and water. The Federal Drug Administration has researched such claims and found the chemical “contained no health risk.”
Republican AGs from 11 states, including Oklahoma, Utah and Texas, filed an amicus brief in April before Mendez’s Wednesday decision – they castigated the Democrat-led probe.
The AG’s believe the pursuit of Exxon violates the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution and constitutes an “unconstitutional abuse of investigative power.” They also argue Schneiderman and his Massachusetts’ colleague Maura Healey want to “promote one side of [the] international public policy debate” on climate change issues.
Texas Judge Ed Kinkeade remanded the case from the Lone Star State to New York earlier this year, because the bulk of the events in the lawsuit occurred in Schneiderman’s state.
Kinkeade brushed back against the Democrat and his colleagues in March before remanding the case. His line of questioning suggested he believed the investigation was purely political and meant to generate media attention.
The New York court was the appropriate venue, Kinkeade decided at the time, because “a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred” in New York City at a 2016 press conference attended by former Vice President Al Gore. The bulk of the probes, conservatives argue, were hatched at an “AGs United for Clean Power” event held in New York.
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