REPORT: The ‘Billion-Dollar Per Year Climate Industry’ Is Trying To Weaponize State Attorneys General

REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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  • A new report digs deeper into the ties between Democratic state attorneys general and environmental activists.
  • The report is based on two-and-a-half years of government documents gathered by Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Chris Horner.
  • Horner exposes a “law enforcement for hire” scheme between Bloomberg Philanthropies and state attorneys general.

A new report based on documents collected over two-and-a-half years through open records requests outlines an “elaborate campaign” by the “billion-dollar per year climate industry” to weaponize state attorneys general (AGs) in service of the global warming agenda.

That campaign culminated in what the report labels “law enforcement for hire” because it allows political donors to pay for state prosecutors “in the service of an ideological, left-wing, climate policy agenda.”

“It represents private interests commandeering the state’s police powers to target opponents of their policy agenda and to hijack the justice system as a way to overturn the democratic process’s rejection of a political agenda,” Competitive Enterprise senior fellow Chris Horner wrote in his report, a copy of which was given to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Horner builds on initial reporting by TheDCNF about Bloomberg Philanthropies’ funding of legal fellows to advance “progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal positions” at AG offices.

Horner’s report goes more in-depth, drawing on more than two years of government records requests, many of which he had to sue unwilling AGs offices for. Horner wrote that states “routinely force litigation before releasing the relevant public records.”

Horner’s report details the actions of a group of AGs and activists, led by former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, that eventually led to former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg paying for “legal fellows” to work in state law enforcement.

Schneiderman led some states to investigate oil giant ExxonMobil for allegedly misleading investors and the public about the severity of man-made global warming. His broader coalition, called AGs United For Clean Power, promised to work together to advance a climate agenda, but that coalition seems to have fallen apart since its inception in 2016.

At least six state AG offices had taken on Bloomberg-funded legal fellows, Horner reported, including Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia. (RELATED: Caliphornia? ‘Greenest’ US State Is Increasingly Reliant On OPEC’s Oil)

Salaries and benefits for legal fellows are paid for by the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center (SEEIC) at the New York University School of Law, which was started with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2017.

Bloomberg is reportedly considering a presidential run as a Democrat and has a long record of environmental activism. Through his nonprofit, Bloomberg launched campaigns to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate agreement and bankrolled climate campaigns to push green energy and close coal-fired power plants.

SEEIC and participating state AGs maintain that the use of privately-funded lawyers is legal and brings up no ethical concerns, but Horner questioned these claims.

Based on documents he’s obtained, Horner wrote the scheme “uses nonprofit organizations as pass-through entities by which donors can support elected officials to, in turn, use their offices to advance a specific set of policies favored by said donors.”

Horner also argued that these sorts of arrangements could be used to go after political opponents — such as fossil fuel companies and conservative groups — of Bloomberg or any other potential donor.

In fact, the New York AG’s office said they had a need for a privately-funded attorney to work on “building models for two different types of common law cases to seek compensation” from fossil fuel companies.

A handful of cities and counties have sued dozens of fossil fuel companies over the alleged damages caused by man-made global warming. New York City was one of those cities, but their lawsuit was thrown out in July.

Horner also noted that to get SEEIC funding, states had to “promise that this work would not get done but for this private funding” and promise to employ their privately-funded attorney to “advance progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal and policy positions.”

States’ agreement with SEEIC also asked AGs to coordinate with them and “interested allies on legal, regulatory, and communications efforts regarding clean energy, climate change, and environmental issues.”

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