Competitive Enterprise Institute subpoenaed in global warming 'fraud' investigation

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has been issued a subpoena by the attorney general of the VIrgin Islands to hand over all communictions between 1997 and 2007 on climate change.

CEI has been a major voice in the climate change debate, debunking many of the "facts" offered by global warming hysterics.

Wall Street Journal:

A coalition of law-enforcement officials led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been looking at whether Exxon misled investors and the public by downplaying the impact of climate change, claims the oil company says are false.

At least one local investigator, the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is focusing on the company’s communications with a conservative group known for its skepticism of global warming.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute on Thursday said Thursday it received a subpoena from U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E. Walker giving the group less than a month to turn over public and private records of its communications with Exxon concerning climate change. The subpoena, which was reviewed by Law Blog, covers a 10-year period ending in 2007.

Among the records requested are:

All Documents reflecting or concerning meetings with or including ExxonMobil and/or third parties acting on behalf of ExxonMobil concerning Climate Change, including but not limited to meetings discussing or presenting . . .  strategies, plans, or activities to impact public views on Climate Change; the likelihood that or extent to which carbon dioxide, methane, oil and gas extraction or use, or any of the products sold or activities carried out by ExxonMobil impact Climate Change directly or indirectly; the accuracy or credibility of research or researchers examining Climate Change; or the accuracy or credibility of models or assessments of the likelihood, certainty, uncertainty, scope, causes, or impacts of Climate Change.

CEI said it would seek to quash the subpoena, calling it “an affront” to its First Amendment rights. “If Walker and his allies succeed, the real victims will be all Americans, whose access to affordable energy will be hit by one costly regulation after another, while scientific and policy debates are wiped out one subpoena at a time,” CEI’s general counsel Sam Kazman said in a statement.

Megan McArdle can barely believe it:

My first reaction to this news was “Um, wut?” CEI has long denied humans' role in global warming, and I have fairly substantial disagreements with CEI on the issue. However, when last I checked, it was not a criminal matter to disagree with me. It’s a pity, I grant you, but there it is; the law’s the law.

(I pause to note, in the interests of full disclosure, that before we met, my husband briefly worked for CEI as a junior employee. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.)

Speaking of the law, why on earth is CEI getting subpoenaed? The attorney general, Claude Earl Walker, explains: “We are committed to ensuring a fair and transparent market where consumers can make informed choices about what they buy and from whom. If ExxonMobil has tried to cloud their judgment, we are determined to hold the company accountable.”

That wasn't much of an explanation. It doesn't mention any law that ExxonMobil may have broken. It is also borderline delusional, if Walker believes that ExxonMobil’s statements or non-statements about climate change during the period 1997 to 2007 appreciably affected consumer propensity to stop at a Mobil station, rather than tootling down the road to Shell or Chevron, or giving up their car in favor of walking to work. 

State attorneys general including Walker held a press conference last week to talk about the investigation of ExxonMobil and explain their theory of the case. And yet, there sort of wasn’t a theory of the case. They spent a lot of time talking about global warming, and how bad it was, and how much they disliked fossil fuel companies. They threw the word “fraud” around a lot. But the more they talked about it, the more it became clear that what they meant by “fraud” was “advocating for policies that the attorneys general disagreed with.”

Lawfare writ large. The problem is that while trying to quash this ridiculous subpoena, other groups and individuals will be silenced, or at least, have their First Amendment rights curtailed by this bullying.

Of course, this is the purpose of the subpoena in the first place. For years, global warming hysterics have compared skeptics to Nazis, called for their arrest and prosecution - or worse. They are so besotted with ideology that the thought that someone could honestly disagree with them is non-existent. 

These sort of tactics appear to be the only way the hysterics can win. They have lost in the arena of politics and public relations. All they have left is issuing diktats and decrees forcing their idea of climate change on everyone. To the extent they succeed, the rest of us lose.


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