Energy

Stanford Prof Drops $10 Million Lawsuit Against Critics Of His Green Energy Study

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

A Stanford University professor dropped a lawsuit filed against a critical researcher and the National Academy of Sciences’ official journal for publishing research critical of his green energy study.

Stanford’s Mark Jacobson voluntarily dropped the suit on Thursday after a D.C. court heard oral arguments. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and co-defendant Christopher Clack asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing it was a clear-cut SLAPP lawsuit.

In a statement, Jacobson said he was dropping the suit because “there could be no end to this case for years, and both the time and cost would be enormous.” He also said he “brought the false claims to light” regarding Clack’s critical study that was published in the PNAS last year.

Jacobson filed a $10 million defamation suit against Clack and PNAS in November for publishing a paper critical of Jacobson’s 2015 study claiming the U.S. could run 100 percent off green energy.

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Clack was one of 21 authors of the PNAS study that found Jacobson’s “work used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions.”

Jacobson claimed the suit was not over scientific disagreements, but because Clack’s paper “recklessly published false statements of fact on three topics that affected a key conclusion of their study.”

Apparently, Jacobson’s had a change of heart. Jacobson dropped his lawsuit after Thursday’s court hearing on whether or not this was a SLAPP case.

D.C.’s anti-SLAPP law aims to cut down on so-called “strategic lawsuits against public participation” meant to silence speech. The law allows defendants in a SLAPP case to recover costs against the plaintiff. PNAS filed an anti-SLAPP motion in November.

Clack’s attorney said it’s likely Jacobson “made the tactical decision to dismiss his $10 million lawsuit” based “on the high probability that his lawsuit would be dismissed.” Case Western Reserve University law professor Jonathan Adler had similar thoughts on the suit.

“Now it seems Jacobson has thought better about taking this dispute to court,” Adler wrote in a post for the Volokh Conspiracy legal blog.

“It is a good thing that this lawsuit is over,” Adler wrote. “Scientific disputes of this sort should not be settled in court.”

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