Virgin Island AG pulls climate change prosecution subpoena of Exxon

In a big victory for free speech, the attorney general of the Virgin Islands, who subpoened ExxonMobil for documents related to climate change, suddenly dropped the action.  Exxon had countersued that the subpoena was unconstitutional.

Washington Times:

In the Joint Stipulation of Dismissal, Mr. Walker said he would pull his March 15 subpoena of the world’s largest energy company, which had challenged the subpoena as unconstitutional.

“After conferring on this matter, the parties mutually agreed that Attorney General Walker will withdraw the subpoena and ExxonMobil will stipulate to the dismissal without prejudice of this action,” said the four-page document filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

The decision indicates a dramatic scaling back of Mr. Walker’s climate change investigation, coming just five weeks after he withdrew his subpoena of the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The retreat also comes as an ominous sign for AGs United for Clean Power, a coalition of 17 attorneys general, including Mr. Walker, formed in March to pursue the fossil fuel industry and others that challenge the catastrophic climate change narrative for “fraud.”

Mr. Walker’s subpoena had demanded that Exxon produce a decade’s worth of communications with more than 100 academics, think tanks and universities, including Arizona State University, George Mason University, Lindenwood University, the Weidenbaum Center at Washington University in St. Louis and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Democrats and environmentalists have cheered the probe of whether fossil fuel companies and skeptics have misled the public on climate change, while Republicans and First Amendment advocates have denounced the effort as an attempt to chill free speech and scientific inquiry.

Mr. Walker’s aggressive decision to issue the Exxon and CEI subpoenas put him at the forefront of the effort, but his impassioned climate change advocacy also raised doubts about his ability to conduct an impartial investigation.

“It could be David and Goliath, the Virgin Islands against a huge corporation, but we will not stop until we get to the bottom of this and make it clear to our residents, as well as the American people, that we have to do something transformational,” Mr. Walker said at the March 29 press conference. “We cannot continue to rely on fossil fuel.”

Of the roughly 100 academic institutions and free market groups listed on the Virgin Islands‘ Exxon subpoena, 69 were listed on Greenpeace’s #ExxonSecrets website, and in almost the same order.

Pacific Legal Foundation litigation director James S. Burling called the overlap between the Virgin Islands subpoena and the Greenpeace list a “remarkable coincidence.”

Walker made it clear in documents obtained by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute that his goal was a payday for his government, having extorted $800 million from another oil company already.

As for the rest of the A.G.s signed on to this witch hunt, they are almost certainly thinking twice about further subpoenas.  In the cold light of day, the case for "fraud" is a house of cards.  It is likely that federal judges will see the subpoenas as an attempt to squelch free speech rather than any bona fide effort to root out corporate fraud.

In a big victory for free speech, the attorney general of the Virgin Islands, who subpoened ExxonMobil for documents related to climate change, suddenly dropped the action.  Exxon had countersued that the subpoena was unconstitutional.

Washington Times:

In the Joint Stipulation of Dismissal, Mr. Walker said he would pull his March 15 subpoena of the world’s largest energy company, which had challenged the subpoena as unconstitutional.

“After conferring on this matter, the parties mutually agreed that Attorney General Walker will withdraw the subpoena and ExxonMobil will stipulate to the dismissal without prejudice of this action,” said the four-page document filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

The decision indicates a dramatic scaling back of Mr. Walker’s climate change investigation, coming just five weeks after he withdrew his subpoena of the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The retreat also comes as an ominous sign for AGs United for Clean Power, a coalition of 17 attorneys general, including Mr. Walker, formed in March to pursue the fossil fuel industry and others that challenge the catastrophic climate change narrative for “fraud.”

Mr. Walker’s subpoena had demanded that Exxon produce a decade’s worth of communications with more than 100 academics, think tanks and universities, including Arizona State University, George Mason University, Lindenwood University, the Weidenbaum Center at Washington University in St. Louis and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Democrats and environmentalists have cheered the probe of whether fossil fuel companies and skeptics have misled the public on climate change, while Republicans and First Amendment advocates have denounced the effort as an attempt to chill free speech and scientific inquiry.

Mr. Walker’s aggressive decision to issue the Exxon and CEI subpoenas put him at the forefront of the effort, but his impassioned climate change advocacy also raised doubts about his ability to conduct an impartial investigation.

“It could be David and Goliath, the Virgin Islands against a huge corporation, but we will not stop until we get to the bottom of this and make it clear to our residents, as well as the American people, that we have to do something transformational,” Mr. Walker said at the March 29 press conference. “We cannot continue to rely on fossil fuel.”

Of the roughly 100 academic institutions and free market groups listed on the Virgin Islands‘ Exxon subpoena, 69 were listed on Greenpeace’s #ExxonSecrets website, and in almost the same order.

Pacific Legal Foundation litigation director James S. Burling called the overlap between the Virgin Islands subpoena and the Greenpeace list a “remarkable coincidence.”

Walker made it clear in documents obtained by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute that his goal was a payday for his government, having extorted $800 million from another oil company already.

As for the rest of the A.G.s signed on to this witch hunt, they are almost certainly thinking twice about further subpoenas.  In the cold light of day, the case for "fraud" is a house of cards.  It is likely that federal judges will see the subpoenas as an attempt to squelch free speech rather than any bona fide effort to root out corporate fraud.