How do you respond to a rampaging bull of a billionaire in the political arena?
The allegedly motivating idea is that ExxonMobil possibly defrauded stockholders by not telling them about how projected climate change might damage its business prospects. One member of the global warming legal cabal is the particularly ambitious and quite clueless attorney-general for the U.
Virgin Islands Claude Walker. Earlier this year, Walker issued a subpoena demanding that ExxonMobil turn over all records of any communications that the oil company may have had since with over think tanks, advocacy organizations, and so forth.
The Reason Foundation that publishes this website was included in the subpoena dragnet. Many of those organizations had expressed doubts about the significance of man-made global warming and the urgency of adopting policies to counter it. Walker clearly believes that such communications might provide evidence that oil company had orchestrated and paid for a conspiracy to mislead the public about the seriousness of climate change.
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In addition to the subpoena to ExxonMobil, the USVI attorney-general Claude Walker issued one to the Competitive Enterprise Institute CEI demanding it provide "a decade's worth of communications, emails, statements, drafts, and other documents regarding CEI's work on climate change and energy policy, including private donor information.
It demands that CEI produce these materials from 20 years ago, fromby April 30, The result is that Walker withdrew his subpoena, but said that he might file something similar in the future.
As if from a parallel universe where everything is reversed, Walker claims that CEI's motions in response to overreaching and abusive action initiated by his office are a waste of his time and resources.
An attorney general is neither above the law nor out of reach of the DC Superior Court. They point out that if minimizing climate change is fraud, exaggeration of climate change is also fraud. If oil companies must disclose how projections of worsening climate change might affect their businesses to avoid fraud charges, so too must "clean energy" companies disclose how milder trends to higher temperatures could affect their future profits in order to avoid defrauding shareholders.
In addition, the Republican AGs point out that both fossil fuel and clean energy companies provide funding to non-profits who share their viewpoints.
As our colleagues must know, a vigorous debate exists in this country regarding the risks of climate change and the appropriate response to those risks.
Both sides are well-funded and sophisticated public policy participants. Whatever our country's response, it will affect people, communities, and businesses that all have a right to participate in this debate.
The first solution is to police all viewpoints equally. Another group of Attorneys General could use the precedent established by the "AGs United for Clean Power" to investigate fraudulent statements associated with competing interests.
The subpoenas currently directed at some market participants could be met with a barrage of subpoenas directed at other market participants. According to Post's analysis, the Democratic AGs are merely seeking to find out what did ExxonMobil know about climate change and when did it know it.Free Speech and Climate Fraud Prosecution Follies The First Amendment does not protect fraud, but it does protect public debate over climate change.
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