Climate Change

Reason Foundation Included in Climate-Change Dragnet Subpoena to ExxonMobil

Attorneys-general aim to suppress disagreement on the implications of climate science and policy

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In March, six Democratic state attorneys-general and the independent attorney general from the U.S. Virgin Islands joined forces with climate activist and former Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore to annnounce a legal campaign to intimidate climate change skeptics. As Gore put it, "We cannot continue to allow the fossil fuel industry or any industry to treat our atmosphere like an open sewer or mislead the public about the impact they have on the health of our people and the health of our planet." 

The heart of this anti-free-speech effort has been a series of subpoenas to ExxonMobil demanding that the oil giant supply various attorneys general with all communications it has had since January 1, 1977 with groups that address scientific and policy issues with respect to climate change. On Tuesday, one of those subpoenas to ExxonMobil, a March 15 fishing expedition by former EPA lawyer and current Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker, was made public, revealing the wide extent of this intimidation campaign. How wide? One of the organizations mentioned in Walker's subpoena is the Reason Foundation, which publishes this website. 

Reason is far from alone. The subpoena lists nearly 100 think tanks, advocacy groups, lobbyists, and university centers with which Walker believes ExxonMobil may have had communications concerning "research, advocacy, strategy, reports, studies, reviews, or public opinions regarding Climate Change." These include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the George Mason University Law and Economics Center, the American Enterprise Institute, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, the Cato Institute, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, the Heritage Foundation, and on and on.

The attorneys-general are seeking to discover some sort of an ExxonMobil-financed conspiracy aimed at undermining public confidence in the scientific consensus that man-made climate change is real and a big problem. Some who are worried about the deleterious effects of climate change have grown weary of trying to persuade their fellow citizens that the scientific evidence is on their side, and so now want to outlaw expressions of disagreement with that consensus.

For example, a prominent group of climate activists sent a letter in September 2015 to the Department of Justice suggesting that Attorney General Loretta Lynch open a "RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America's response to climate change." At a congressional hearing in March, Lynch testified that her office has considered taking legal action against groups promoting climate change skepticism.

As I have earlier argued, these subpoenas are a huge step in the direction of using the courts to silence people who hold views that differ from those of powerful government officials. It's bad enough to politicize science, but to outlaw disagreements over how to interpret science heads down the perilous path toward Lysenkoism, in which only officially approved science is allowed to be practiced and to be discussed.

ExxonMobil contributed to the Reason Foundation many years ago. If readers – including any attorneys-general—are curious about my views on climate change (and their evolution), please read my 2006 column, "Confessions of an Alleged ExxonMobil Whore," and a 2015 piece, "What Evidence Would Persuade You That Man-Made Climate Change Is Real?" In addition, my Reason Foundation colleague Julian Morris published an analysis last month assessing the efficacy of the UN's December Paris Agreement on climate change.

Disclosure: Over the years I have worked with several groups listed in the USVI subpoena on a wide variety of public policy issues relevant to resisting government encroachments into free markets, mostly not having anything to do with climate change. And I still own 50 shares of ExxonMobil stock that I bought with my own money.

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  1. You know who else cracked down on free speech?

    1. Hillary Clinton?

      1. Free speech?!?! F’ that! Nothing less than $225k for her.

        Let ’em eat cake.

    2. Manbearpig?

    3. Erdogan, Badal, Modi, David Rosner, Ben Carson, Twitter, Germany, France, Sweden, Tanzania, Brazil, FBI, FEC, among others.

      1. I was hoping for a 1,000 + replies, because my ad hitlerum is so easy to answer.

      2. You forgot fuckbook.

    4. Global warming scientists? I use that term loosely for the rabid sort.

  2. Is Reason able or plannng to take legal action on this? Just figure I’d ask as I am not a lawyer.

    1. This would seem to be a good opportunity for them to make a principled stand. Of course there are a lot of similarly situated organizations. Will be interesting to see whether they mount a single, coordinated defense or multiple defenses. Can any of our attorney commenters speak to this?

      1. Highly unlikely that there will be a “common defense” (that is, hire one law firm to represent everyone, in effect).

        A coordinated defense should be doable. The upside of a coordinated defense is that each defendant will be able to demand their own discovery, file their own briefs, and generally bury this case in a steaming pile of motions, subpoenas, etc.

        1. It doesn’t look like it is necessary anyways, the only party subpoenaed is Exxon who will surely quash it, then defend against a motion to compel, and then if necessary appeal. Reason and they others haven’t been subpoenaed themselves, don’t know if they would even have standing to object to the production of documents in Exxon’s custody and control.

          1. don’t know if they would even have standing to object to the production of documents in Exxon’s custody and control

            Not if I understand the third-party doctrine correctly. Everything you share with somebody else apparently confers an implicit sharing with the government.

            1. It’s not even really to do with sharing with the government, it would be the same if was two private parties were suing each other. If you, C send an email to A and later A is in a lawsuit with B, B can request any emails between A and you in A’s possession, they don’t have to ask you because that document is A’s not yours (though you have your own copy).

            2. To be even more clear, if there were some email that Reason sent to Exxon saying “hey let’s team up to hide the truth on climate change,” Exxon would absent any confidentiality agreement or something similar have every right to dump that email on the internet without any government intervention.

              1. I think you’re conflating a couple of different things. Reason is not a party to the suit. Exxon’s communication with the Reason Foundation, if any, cannot usually be demanded by someone other than the Reason Foundation, unless that someone is the U.S. Government.

                1. I do note that the state AGs are not part of “the U.S. Government” but I’m not so sure about the USVI prosecutor.

                  1. Well I’m pretty sure that, with all due respect, that motherfucker deserves to be disbarred.

        2. Thanks, guys.

        3. The upside of a coordinated defense is that each defendant will be able to demand their own discovery, file their own briefs, and generally bury this case in a steaming pile of motions, subpoenas, etc.

          Of course, more of these think tanks’ resources will be devoted to fighting this bullshit that could have been spent on their core missions. But perhaps the silver lining will be more publicity for them and the cause of fighting government oppression.

          1. Process = punishment, etc

    2. Considering they caved on an earlier subpoena I’m not holding out any hope.

  3. You know what other administration engaged in multi-jurisdictional fishing expeditions to suppress speech they didn’t like?

    1. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara?

      1. He was appointed by the current administration.

    2. All of them?

      1. Dammit, that’s a winner. Was looking for Reagan – the Meese Commission on Pornography.

        1. -1 7/11 Penthouse Rack

  4. “Fossils fuels in the last century reached their extreme prices because of their inherent utility: they pack a great deal of potential energy into an extremely efficient package. If we can but sidestep the 100-million-year production process, we can corner this market once again.”

    1. Nwabudike Morgan speaks the truth.

    2. +1 The Ethics of Greed

    1. And there was great rejoicing

    2. Cracked Emperor Norton.

  5. Can’t wait for the Hillary Administration!

    This is why the left, for all the many faults of the right, remains the much bigger danger.

    1. ^This^

      It couldn’t be more blatantly dangerously unqualified vs. dangerously qualified.

  6. Welp, time to fire up the ol’ fossil-fuel-powered chipper-shredder device of justice.

  7. What is the carbon output of your standard woodchipper?

    1. You mean engine exhaust or actual shredder output product?

    2. If you are in California you would know the carbon footprint of your chipper because its required by law for companies to report every fuel powered device they have. The fine for not keeping up to date is huge BTW

  8. Here is a lengthy discussion of why the harassing investigation of Exxon by the attorneys general violates the First Amendment:
    http://www.libertylawsite.org/…..o-tyranny/

    Here is a link to a lawyer’s explanation (by Andrew Grossman) of why the subpoena issued to the Competitive Enterprise Institute is harassing, oppressive, illegal, and a violation of the First Amendment: https://cei.org/sites/default/files/CEI Objections to USVI Subpoena.pdf

    Here is his letter to Virgin Islands attorney general Claude Walker objecting to the subpoena as “offensive,” “un-American,” and “unlawful”: https://cei.org/sites/default/files/Walker Letter re CEI Subpoena.pdf

    Here is a discussion of additional reasons why the subpoena to the Competitive Enterprise Institute violates the First Amendment: http://www.examiner.com/articl…..estigation

    1. Your third link leads to a 404 page.

      1. Thanks for pointing that out. Use this link instead: https://goo.gl/ZpeHlg

    2. The second and third links above are broken. Use this link in place of those links: https://goo.gl/ZpeHlg

    3. Thanks, Hans.

      Proper links preferred since those shortened links could lead…anywhere.

      You can also embed links in text using the following HTML tag, use angle brackets instead of square brackets

      [a href=”www.website.net”]text here is highlighted in orange and is a clickable link[/a]

      1. The problem comes with Reason’s 50 character limit for single words. You simply can’t post long links without using some from of shortening.

        Mmmmm, shortening.

        1. Reason’s comment parser is ass backwards. It splits words before identifying URLs and it evaluates HTML escape sequences like < before parsing HTML. It also evaluates URL escape sequences which makes no fucking sense in any place, but especially not within URLs (it defeats the whole purpose of the escapes).

  9. The modern Inquisition.

    1. I don’t know; a lot of us expected this.

      1. I doubt they’ll be any comfy chairs…

        There will be fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and near fanatical devotion… and nice red uniforms…

        But no comfy chairs.

        1. And the current pope is a watermelon, so that also fits.

  10. So, when can we expect court-ordered injunctions and sanctions against these inquisitors U.S. attorneys?

    1. Whoops, I meant state AGs.

      1. When did the Virgin Islands become a state? :-p

        1. What happens when two pedants enter the same thread?

        2. They are a territory, of course, but I believe they are a sovereign (as are state governments and the federal government). Perhaps time to review the sovereignity (etc) of certain problem territories.

  11. The whole justification for the Inquisition is that the Republicans did it too. Specifically, they subpoenaed data from climate scientists.

    There appears to be no distinction on their part between research that was conducted on the public dime and privately funded enterprises.

    1. http://www.politicususa.com/20…..ments.html

      As the official legislative arm of ? and surrogates for ? the fossil fuel industry, Republicans have used the subpoena process to terrorize climate scientists for over six years. Their claim is always the same; the American people deserve to know exactly what those evil climate scientists are researching and why they are lying about the climate changing. Republicans also claim that Americans must be made aware that the scientific community is involved in a devious conspiracy to destroy America, the dirty fossil fuel industry, and rob decent Americans of their way of life.
      Like most things about Republicans and the fossil fuel industry, particularly dirty oil, they are rank hypocrites. It is all well and proper for Republicans to use the subpoena process to terrorize and harass the scientific community, but if the tables are turned and the oil industry gets served with a subpoena, they cry and scream like banshees.

      Apparently it acceptable for Republicans to use the subpoena process to investigate climate scientists, but it is an infringement on climate skeptics’ Constitutional rights if the government investigates the oil industry’s malfeasance.

      1. So, asking to see what they are actually doing is “terrorizing”? Seems they could have avoided all that terror by simply releasing their data (that everyone paid for).

        1. ^This. That climate data (Hansen, et als) was developed using tax dollars.

        2. A thousand times what Zeb said. The poor gubamint fu ded scientists feel their safe space was threatened for having to show their work? Please.

        3. A thousand times what Zeb said. The poor gubamint fu ded scientists feel their safe space was threatened for having to show their work? Please.

      2. Yeah, they do sort of skip over the part where scientists were refusing to disclose what they were doing with tax money.

        1. The only devious conspiracy here is the one to collect government grant money for glacier gender studies et al.

          1. That’s cold, Lee. Cold. As. Ice.

        2. I assume they spent ten minutes programming a computer to say “Global Warming = Real and Bad” and then spent the remainder of their research period running around their office having a money fight?? Like, I wouldn’t even be mad if that’s what they did. It’d be the smart thing to do, since the state is paying for them to have a computer tell them that global warming is real and bad. It’d be the most efficient use of their time.

          1. I think that is exactly what they did.

      3. Well, that is a fair and evenhanded analysis of it all. Well done.

      4. PoliticusUSA: Proving ever so effectively that refusing “corporate money” doesn’t save you from shitty thinking.

    2. There appears to be no distinction on their part between research that was conducted on the public dime and privately funded enterprises.

      No shit. Research data done on the public dime belongs to the people. That scientists thought they could withhold their data from prying public eyes should be a criminal act in and of itself. Who do they think they are, Hillary Clinton?

      1. I Think Exxon should use the Hillary excuse. it was all personal family info so we erased everything on every computer.

    3. Specifically, they subpoenaed data from climate scientists.

      Gee, when making wild claims about potential apocolyptic climate-change… who do you think the burden of proof should be on?

      ‘skeptics’?

      or the ones demanding hundreds of billions in costs imposed on world economies in the name of their bullshit ‘models’?

    4. The government may have been within it’s rights to force them to release their data. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a witch hunt.

      But two wrongs don’t make a right. Of course, that’s a principled stand, so it’s meaningless to these AGs.

      1. Or is it AsG?

        1. It’s A-Holes.

      2. The government may have been within it’s rights to force them to release their data. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a witch hunt.

        Polite disagree. If you’re in a coven and you accuse/suspect your fellow witches or a different coven of witchcraft, it is, technically a witch hunt but not the euphemistic witch hunt where Puritans and villagers outside the coven end up setting fire to someone who cannot have been practicing witchcraft (or otherwise deliberately enforcing hexes and curses).

        Witches accusing witches and getting them burned alive is one thing, witches accusing farmers and villagers of witchcraft and getting them burned alive is another. Especially when (in the former case) we’re talking about scientists who, by their own ethos/creed should be disclosing as much as possible anyway. Policy recommendations were and are made based on the data. It’s not like the GOP was calling out these scientists because they cheated on their spouses or had improper relations with ladybois in S. Asia.

  12. Yo reason: your Amazon donate button? She no work.

    1. Uh, you bucking for a subpoena too?

      1. These masturbation euphemisms are getting pretty abstract.

        1. I just assume *every* comment here is a masturbation euphemism – saves a lot of time.

          1. How do you save a lot of time?
            *nudge nudge*

            1. Well, do it yourself!

  13. It’ll be interesting to see if Ronald is safe from harm because he holds the approved viewpoints on global warming (for the most part)? Or, will they try to RICO his ass and send him to Gitmo along with the rest of Koch-whore Reason staffers (and commenters) who are clearly supporting the destruction of the planet.

    1. He only holds parts of the officially approved viewpoints. It’s not enough to generally agree with the scientific part of it. You also have to act like the science tells us that we must impose massive regulations and hobble the economy to save ourselves.

      1. Yeah, I guess that “for the most part” isn’t good enough to satisfy the righteous.

        Off to the gulags! He’ll be praying for global warming while he’s in Siberia.

      2. He supported a carbon tax.

        1. As in, in the past, right?

        2. I’m going on what he wrote in his recent book which didn’t seem to promote a carbon tax.

    2. Ron only holds those views so he retains access to the better parties.

    3. No, that’s worse. If he simply rejected it, he would be a climate kafir. By partially accepting it, but moderating it and hedging and deviating from the cult doctrine, he is an apostate, and needs to be made an example of for the sake of message discipline.

  14. In a sane world, this would be a great intro to a dystopian sci-fi thriller.

  15. Didn’t Glenn Reynolds suggest that this effort by the AG’s might itself qualify as a criminal conspiracy?

    It would seem that its time for a Lawyering-Up Montage

    1. This is what i was thinking of.

    2. Like how the MSA was a collusion between the states?

    3. I recall seeing the same suggestion – conspiracy to deprive civil rights, if I recall correctly. God I’d love to see a few of these prosecutors get a taste of their own medicine. And full fucking blast. Send one of these fuckers to the federal supermax. As a matter of principle I very much opposed to the criminalization of politics. But, I’d be willing to overlook it just once to send waves of terror through every prosecutor who might get this idea in their teensie little heads that the price of it is going to a nuclear response.

      1. You can be opposed to the criminalization of politics, without being opposed to criminal prosecution of politicians, you know.

        1. Unfortunately, the more popular the politician, the more successfully they will paint the latter as an example of the former.

      2. Screws vs US makes prosecution almost impossible. Not only do you have to prove criminal intent, but you also have to prove intent to deprive the victim of his consitutional rights.

        What needs to happen is for Congress to pass a law making 241 and 242 strict liability offenses, as they were prior to Screws.

  16. I’m wondering what the options are for countersuits against the AGs for violation of civil rights.

    1. see above

      Federal law makes it a felony “for two or more persons to agree together to injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the Unites States, (or because of his/her having exercised the same).”

      I wonder if U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker, or California Attorney General Kamala Harris, or New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have read this federal statute.

      1. Discovery could prove interesting in a countersuit.

        1. That’s a criminal law, not a civil cause of action.

          We’ll see Hillary indicted before any of these AGs are.

          1. Don’t get my hopes up

          2. You can sue them for civil damages under 18 USC 1983. That is what all of these organizations should do.

            1. Section 1983 is in Title 42. However, it does seem to be the right reference:

              Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

              42 U.S.C. ? 1983

            2. Can the other organizations egging them on and helping them plan also be caught up in this?

    2. When does abuse of state power rise to the level of criminal conduct? Yeah, I know, sovereign immunity – a doctrine developed to protect the powerful.

      1. Sovereign immunity does not protect against a bullet.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwC_IaY3BmY

  17. “to outlaw disagreements over how to interpret science heads down the perilous path toward Lysenkoism”

    That ship sailed long ago, and has arrived at its destination port. There are already plenty of topics that could be scientifically investigated, but are not for entirely political reasons.

    1. But this seems to be the first case where people are actually threatened with government force for holding the wrong scientific views. Before it has just been PC social pressure, which is always going to be a bias in what science gets done.

      1. Which is at least better.

      2. Well there’s that and there’s the fact that the Anti-GMO crowd is letting children go blind is Asia by fighting against golden rice.

        Funny how good proggies fucking love science when it’s global warming and fucking hate it when it’s GMOs.

    2. Fingerprints, drug dogs, etc.

  18. Here’s an opportunity for Trump to prove his 1A bona fides, if any, by coming out against this lawsuit.

    We know for a stone-cold fact that Hillary won’t oppose it, and (given her opinions on corporate 1A rights and global warming) its hard to see how she doesn’t support it pretty strongly.

    1. I doubt it’ll get much of a mention from him; phrases like “Lysenkoism” and “prosecutorial misconduct” have a lot of syllables and would make his supporters too confused.

      1. Oh, there’s plenty of short, simple words that could be applied to this.

      2. But his supporters are not big fans of CAGW hysteria. They know the term “warmism”, I think.

    2. Here’s an opportunity for Trump to prove his 1A bona fides,

      AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!111!!!

  19. Behind the First Amendment violations, there’s also an assumption that people will believe whatever they’re told.

    A while back, I was looking at a list of dog breeds ranked by intelligence. My favorite breed ranked poorly, so I looked at the methodology. They were ranking the breeds based on how easily the dogs were trained–as if that were synonymous with intelligence. Pardon me, but believing anything you’re told and being quick and ready to follow orders doesn’t sound like intelligence to me. Those are traits I typically associate with stupidity. Can you imagine if we talked about women that way? She’ll believe anything; she does whatever she’s told–she’s a genius!

    The progressives think of us like dogs–they also rank our intelligence based on how readily we yield to their supposed authority. It’s so hard to get the general population their proper obedience training when they’re hearing other voices telling them not to believe what they’re told, not to do as they’re told. Fundamentalist Christianity is better than that. At least the Christians pay lip service to valuing other people–since Jesus died for those sinners. On the other hand, denigrating people and their right to make choices for themselves about what they think and do, that’s what being a progressive is all about.

    1. He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.

      – A Einstein

    2. GODDAMIT KEN, STOP MAKING SENSE!!! I am getting sick of agreeing with you….

    3. They were ranking the breeds based on how easily the dogs were trained–as if that were synonymous with intelligence.

      Huh, interesting, because from what I understand, the animals that are more stubborn and difficult to train are the smart ones. I looked into a Shiba Inu and was warned off it as a first-time dog owner. Independent, difficult to train, and doesn’t really feel your commands to “sit” and “come” and “shake”.

      It’s the less intelligent breeds that are willing to do anything the master demands. Which is true in politics as well.

      1. That’s been my experience. I had a Newfie who was really smart. Every time I told him to do something, you could see him thinking it over. Plus, he figured out how to get into my beer stash.

        So I opted for pit bull breeds after that. No one ever accuses them of being smart. As I told Mrs. Dean when the current batch arrived and struggled to figure out the dog door, “I didn’t hire them for their brains”.

        1. “I didn’t hire them for their brains”

          Just like your secretary?

          1. I have had remarkable luck hiring assistants who are both smart and scenic, thankyouverymuch.

            1. I hear that’s easy to do in Texas.

      2. Really stupid dogs are definitely hard to train too. But that is more about individuals than breeds, I think.
        I’d guess that there is probably an intelligence sweet spot for trainability. Too smart and willful and they are hard to train. To stupid and they are impossible to train. Training does seem to require a certain degree of understanding and memory.

        Also, maybe human notions of intelligence don’t translate well to other animals.

        1. I’m no expert, but I’ve heard the same thing about Horses vs. Mules. Horses, I’ve been told, aren’t particularly bright (on the animal spectrum of intelligence) but mules are apparently quite intelligent which is what makes them so stubborn. You can literally work a horse to death, but a mule has more of a “sense of self” and when it decides it’s done working, it simply stops.

          At least this is what I’ve heard.

      3. Regarding dog breeds, I had always heard “mischievous” and “intelligent” as more synonymous than “obedient” and “intelligent”.

        Of course “mischievous” being shorthand for “independent” and “problem solver, especially if it involves new and exciting ways to reach stuff on your kitchen counters”.

        1. My Newfie could just stand on the floor and reach the counters without even lifting a paw. No problem solving required.

    4. The smarter dogs trade ‘biting your face off for food’ for menial tasks that result in food, treats, pets and shelter faster than stupid ones. The same way humans do for employment.

      Successful training is canine capitalism at work. I’ll also happily sit and shake your hand if you buy me a nice dinner.

      And yes your beagle is still stupid compared to most other breeds. I’d suggest if it sucks at football to pursue a liberal arts path at doggie college.

  20. Well, you can’t have a respectable religion without an inquisition, now can you?

    1. But people still don’t expect the inquisition.

  21. And yet no one has been able to sue the Virgin Islands for false advertising. smdh

    1. At this point, “The Land of the Free” rises to the level of false advertising.

    2. Even though the first Hurricane named after a man headed straight towards the Virgin Islands?

    3. STEVE SMITH TRY RAPE VIRGIN ISLANDS BUT NOT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO AFFORD TICKET YET.

    4. The islands are virgins, not the inhabitants. Plate tectonics is a slow process, so it will be awhile before the islands come together.

      1. “Damn, girl… you got one sexy bioluminescent bay.”

        1. “I’ve been watching the way those cruise ships just … slide in and out of port….”

        2. If you have bioluminscence going in, it might be time for some sort of ointment.

  22. So what crimes, exactly, are they investigating? Can they actually point to a statute that they claim has been violated? If not, how can they legally do this?

    They should all be impeached and thrown out of office, BTW.

    1. From my link above

      There is a major difference between A.G. Walker’s subpoena and the various Republican “legal” demands targeting scientists. There are valid criminal investigations into ExxonMobil that is “suspected to have engaged in, or be engaging in, conduct constituting a civil violation of the ‘Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act’ 14 V.I.C. ? 605 by misrepresenting its knowledge that its products and actions have contributed and are continuing to contribute to defraud the government.”

      The subpoena also alleges that this “climate denial conspiracy” is for the expressed purpose of obtaining money by false pretenses. Apparently, the idea that the climate denial industries’ crusade against combating climate change is for profits and it best fits the legal requirement for action against the oil industry.

      It is a sad commentary, but that may be the best chance the legal authorities have of holding CEI, ExxonMobil and the myriad libertarian belief tanks, Republicans, and fossil fuel industry accountable for the damage they have wrought on the world.

      1. Exxon is defrauding the government how, exactly?

        1. Externalities?

          Fuck if I know. These idiots would consider it defrauding if you lobbied against a tax increase, since that money would be going to the government.

      2. continuing to contribute to defraud the government…obtaining money by false pretenses

        WTF? I’m pretty sure ExxonMobile and other oil companies market their product as being a source of energy. What other pretenses are there?

        1. Securities law violations – ExxonMobil allegedly “misled” investors by failing to “disclose” the company’s “findings” regarding climate change.

          1. Has anyone seen these finding? It will be interesting to see if these shitbird AGs make them public or keep them secret.

          2. As bogus as that is, it is way more substantial than attacking CEI, Cato, RF et al. There isn’t a Sarbanes-Oxley/Dodd-Frank angle on them.

    2. If I remember it correctly, the argument is that Exxon-Mobil learned that climate change was real and withheld that information from their shareholders. I don’t agree with that viewpoint, but I think that was the argument.

      1. As far as I can tell, Exxon commissioned one of their employees to find out what the “state of the science” was, and he responded with a more or less succinct summary of the matter ca. when his report was made.

        What no one has established is how this in any way relates to Exxon’s obligations to its shareholders or to the government.

        1. IIRC Exxon as a public corporation is required to enumerate any possible threats to its business in coming years. Carbon regulation is certainly a potential threat and must be listed as such. That’s regardless of whether climate change is real or not.

          1. Certainly it can’t be *any* possible threats. Otherwise they could be indicted for not listing “asteroid impact in the Middle East”.

            1. But the warmists point is that they did list it as a threat, even though Exxon is supposedly funding a denial machine. Therefore, fraud. The problem with that argument is that the threat to Exxon is government action on climate change, not climate change itself. The action can happen regardless of any actual climate change.

              1. Ah, I see. Thanks.

          2. Carbon regulation is certainly a potential threat and must be listed as such. That’s regardless of whether climate change is real or not.

            And it would be covered in any routine boilerplate disclosures
            e.g.

            Actual financial and operating results, including project plans, costs, timing, and capacities; capital and exploration expenditures; resource recoveries; and share purchase levels, could differ materially due to factors including: changes in oil or gas prices or other market or economic conditions affecting the oil and gas industry, including the scope and duration of economic recessions; the outcome of exploration and development efforts; changes in law or government regulation, including tax and environmental requirements; the impact of fiscal and commercial terms; changes in technical or operating conditions

            Honestly, there is nothing more than that the company should be required to flag *Unless* there were some actual pending legislation which they believed posed some specific risks; at which point they’d (along with everyone else in the industry) have one of those “Analyst Events” where they all ensured that everyone aired their perspectives on the possible outcomes.

            People who claim that individual companies are supposed to be speculating on what the Government “Might” do sometime in the distant future are fucking nuts.

          3. Here’s a list of Exxon’s 10-K filings with the SEC for recent years. They all mention regulation and political/legal changes as potential risk factors.

      2. If they could prove that ExxonMobil believed that it’s products were contributing to climate change but marketed them otherwise, then I guess, maybe, that could constitute fraud?

        1. Still no provable damages though.

        2. no.

          all human activity ‘contributes to climate change’

          you might as well be suing the people who sell you your home heating oil, who provide your electricity, and shipped any packages to you, etc.

          Hell, Exxon just sold you some gasoline*; YOU are the one who drove the car. They didn’t cause shit.

          (*do they even refine & retail?)

          1. Well, if someone told you that your car or house didn’t contribute to climate change as a way of getting you to buy it, then that might be where one could argue fraud. But it would have to be marketed as part of the product, and you’d have to prove that the actually believed otherwise. Just hearing your real estate agent say “I don’t believe in global warming” while you were at dinner can’t cut it.

            I don’t think ExxonMobil committed fraud. I’m just trying to understand how the argument could possible be made.

            1. I think the argument is that they had a product that they knew was destructive on a scale that would inevitably lead to the product being banned, and they hid that knowledge from investors, leading the investors to believe that it was a sound long-term investment when it wasn’t.

              Asbestos-containing products might be a good analogy – i.e. if an asbestos producer had scientific evidence that asbestos is hazardous enough that a government would obviously ban it (OK, so we’re still in pretty hypothetical territory), but they then suppressed those studies and told their investors that asbestos is the way of the future, then they would defrauding their investors (by this logic).

              1. I think the argument is that they had a product that they knew was destructive on a scale that would inevitably lead to the product being banned

                The problem with that argument is that the best policy for dealing with climate change is probably letting the market take care of it; “banning” fossil fuels just isn’t a rational policy.

            2. what they say or don’t say about something as amorphous as “climate change” = whose effects -at best – might actually result in some tangible economic / material harm to people hundreds of years from now… is meaningless.

              OTC drug companies are required to list side-effects, because they know the risks are specific, immediate, and have a direct cause-effect connection to their product.

              Oil companies don’t even have any reliable measure of the “potential” risks… and the cause/effect relationship between ‘carbon’ and climate-change mechanics are at best ‘nebulous’, and highly disputed

            3. Well, if someone told you that your car or house didn’t contribute to climate change as a way of getting you to buy it, then that might be where one could argue fraud.

              I must have missed those billboards that said “Buy Exxon Gasoline! Does not contribute to global warming!”

          2. (*do they even refine & retail?)

            There are several ExxonMobil gas stations in Los Angeles and a refinery in Torrance.

  23. Is this a thread where nasty invective and wishes involving people and woodchippers is ENTIRELY appropriate?

    1. Yep, pretty (or should I say Preety?) sure it is.

      1. I think [REDACTED].

    2. Only if they are electric woodchippers, not the evil fossil fuel powered kind.

  24. I wonder why they don’t include the global warming scientists who act so poorly as to discredit themselves. I mean, who did more to discredit Nazis than Hitler?

  25. Since Al Gore’s many predictions have been very wrong over the years, can I sue him for “misleading” people?

    1. If you like your doctor you can keep him

    2. Cut him some slack. He did invent the internet.

    3. So wait, the polar ice caps didn’t melt in 2014?

    4. “…in 2008 on Rick Warren’s stage at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” he told Warren’s flock of Evangelicals. “Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

  26. Excuse me, I’m testing out new found knowledge courtesy of Jesse and Tundra.
    Yay
    Woot

  27. I am bummed that my name isn’t on that list.

  28. The attorneys-general are seeking to discover some sort of an ExxonMobil-financed conspiracy aimed at undermining public confidence in the scientific consensus that man-made climate change is real and a big problem.

    “I confess! I killed Papa Doc with my voodoo!”

  29. It should be noted that Al Gore was the point man for the Clinton Administration for going after the tobacco industry, too.

    “Al Gore to annnounce a legal campaign to intimidate climate change skeptics. As Gore put it, “We cannot continue to allow the fossil fuel industry or any industry to treat our atmosphere like an open sewer or mislead the public about the impact they have on the health of our people and the health of our planet.”

    That bit about human health is especially important.

    Make no mistake, Al Gore wants the EPA to regulate the production, distribution, and sale of fossil fuels the same way the FDA now regulates the production, distribution, and sale of tobacco. Much of the restrictions the tobacco industry was forced to accept o their freedom of speech as a condition of protecting them from civil suits by smokers came about by way of class action suits by state attorneys general, too. We are not in uncharted waters, here. Al Gore has done all of this before.

    1. The “smoking gun” in the tobacco industry fight were internal documents indicating that the companies’ management knew about the dangers of smoking but actively instructed people to downplay them.

      I suppose this fishing expedition is trying to find another such “smoking gun” but nothing presented so far gives any indication of fraudulent or misleading activity.

      1. If they’re looking back to 1977, and they can’t find an executive email anywhere downplaying the impacts of fossil fuels on health or the environment or fish or something . . ?

        Half the scientific community has spent the last 15 years studying the impact of global warming on everything under the sun.

        Persuade a jury in east Texas that global warming is in any way responsible for the spread of mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus, and the oil companies are suddenly on the hook for an army of deformed babies. And if the oil companies didn’t know before, there’s a scientist out there somewhere who got a grant to look at precisely that this summer, I’m sure. And what are they supposed to do about it when they find there are negative impacts to burning oil?Stop selling it?

        And that Zika virus is just one example. They’re gonna hold the oil companies responsible for the weather if they can. The oil companies will eventually have to come to the government for protection from lawsuits, and the oil industry will soon afterwards be regulatory captured by the government if not nationalized outright as a function of that protection. I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen necessarily, but mentioning that as one scenario wouldn’t rank a 1 on the Al Gore Shock-o-Meter. He’s done it before.

      2. And yet, somehow, “hide the decline” has been explained away as not a smoking gun at all.

        1. “Without double standards, ….”

  30. I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of woodchipper were started, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

  31. “Beginning in late 1994, the troika’s political and regulatory assault on cigarette makers, buttressed by the lawsuits of 40 state attorneys general, triggered the fall of Big Tobacco. Fearful of bankruptcy, the tobacco barons agreed last summer to settle the suits at a cost of $368.5 billion. Now they must convince persuade skeptical lawmakers to accept the broad legal protections included in the deal.

    But the tobacco companies know that getting congressional Republicans and Democrats to agree to a complicated deal means substantial input from the White House. And that means their fate could well be back in the hands of Al Gore in the next weeks.

    Whether distracted by the Whitewater investigation or merely eager to bolster Gore’s prospects in 2000, Clinton has increasingly deferred to his vice president on the subject of smoking. In many ways, Gore has become so closely associated with the push for reform that he embodies its conflicts”

    —-Washington Post, March 31, 1998

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..cco31c.htm

  32. I get your concern about this, Ron. But it’s amazing to me you showed no similar concerns about Smith’s subpoena of NOAA emails. It too was simply a BROAD attempt to intimidate free speech, this time of scientists there with whom Smith disagreed with. If subpoenas have the deleterious effect of squashing free speech of those one might disagree with, they did with Smith as well. It wouldn’t make any difference if it’s a private company subsidied by the government or NOAA.

    And as I said before, you showed no problem during climate gate of the theft of private emails. You thought there would be some kind of smoking gun, and there wasn’t. If Exxon’s emails were simply stolen and not subpoenaed, would that have been better?

    1. NOAA is a government agency and is subject to FOIA.

    2. By the way, Ron, I live in NY where the AG here originated this. The Martin Act here is broad and has been used to find deceitful practices on Wall Street before. If he thinks that had occurred with Excon, he is only doing his job. Can’t speak for VI.

      http://mobile.reuters.com/arti…..1M20151107

      1. *exxon

      2. If he thinks that had occurred with Excon, he is only doing his job.

        What he “thinks” is irrelevant. Private entities enjoy the protection of warrants supported by probable cause.

        1. Go read Rueters. You’re wrong about NY, where this originated.

          1. The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies everywhere in the United States, including New York.

            1. If it did, the Martin Act would have never been able to have been used before, and it has. Since the 1920s. Keep trying. Maybe Exxon can get it tossed out. Keep your hopes up.

              1. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

                1. Well we will see won’t we? But then, you thought obamacare was unconstitutional too. Not a good track record.

                  1. Your rampant illiteracy never ceases to impress.

                  2. Just because the courts find something constitutional does not make it consistent with the intent of the constitution. See Dredd Scott, Wickard v. Fillburn, the first DOMA decision, and more…..

              2. I’ll be charitable to you, Jack, and assume you meant that the Martin Act must not be unconstitutional since it has been used before (your response reads like you’re saying the 4A of the U.S. Constitution does not apply to New York). You’d still be wrong, though. Laws can sit on the books for decades before being constitutionally challenged and stricken.

                1. Like any other law. Let’s see if Exxon challenges it that way and the result. Interesting it’s stood for over 100 years. Don’t count on it.

                  1. It’s not about the statute, you fucking moron, it’s about the attorney general’s actions.

                  2. Similarly, I have noticed a pattern of democrat political campaign contributions and favorable policy treatment for special interest groups.

                    Maybe the Martin Act should be used to supoena all democrat communication since, oh, 1950 or so, bring them up on RICO charges for bribery, extortion, etc.

                    Because vague appeals to blue sky laws and RICO violations are super fun!

                    Of course, the NY AG would never go for that, out of the sheer, unadulterated consistency of it all. Maybe you should write him a letter everyday, explaining his hypocrisy to him, as you consistently do always, everywhere.

    3. A Congressman is not an Attorney General.

      One has valid need for discovery. The other prosecutes criminals.

      1. Keep making excuses for the government subpoenas you like.

          1. Don’t expect a pinko to be able to distinguish between private and public entities.

            1. Oh, they can tell the difference. The former are inherently evil, and the latter inherently good.

        1. To be fair, I never like it when Congressional hearings go on fishing expeditions and setting up of pillories — whether I agree with them or not, whether the parties placed in the pillory are government employees or not.

          But Attorneys General subpoenaing private entities and their communications based on what is unquestionably a difference of opinion is beyond all legitimacy. It is a violent assault on First Amendment rights by a government entity with extremely broad power over freedom and purse.

          Isn’t this blindingly obvious?

          1. It’s not. At least here in New York. It’s occurred before and will again. See The Martin Act.

            1. The fact that New York prosecutors have a long history of grandstanding persecution and demagoguery make it neither right nor not a violent assault on the rights of those they choose to prosecute.

            2. And you understand this is a large reason why people hate New York and people from that state? The culture of New York is basically royalist still, where the “King’s Men” can do no wrong so long as they target the appropriate enemies of the state.

      2. Jack is unable to understand the concepts and principles involved here. Typical lefty idiot.

    4. “Smith’s subpoena of NOAA emails”

      You keep bringing this up, and people keep responding to you, and yet you keep ignoring them. It’s almost like you’re not actually listening to people when they respond to you.

      1. I listen, and all I hear are excuses and selectivity.

        1. If you don’t like FOIA mandated disclosures, don’t work for the government.

        2. I listen, and all I hear are excuses and selectivity.

          In addition to consistently ignoring the distinction between a congressman asking for the work product of people whose work is being funded by the government and a state AG demanding documents from a private company.

          It’s like the difference between me demanding work of my employees vs. me demanding work of someone else’s employees – I have a right to the one, but not the other.

          Do you really not understand the difference?

    5. “If Exxon’s emails were simply stolen and not subpoenaed, would that have been better?”

      Holy shit, you’re really suggesting that private entities breaking the law and the government violating the First Amendment are somehow equivalent?

      1. “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

        1. Is that a quote from Frost- (Chocolate) Nixon?

          1. It is from the interview, yes. There’s an interesting quora answer on the context surrounding the comment. However, I can’t say that the context really changes the meaning much. Nixon says he’s limited by re-election and Congressional purse strings, but seems to imply that he cannot be constrained by direct proscription of certain actions.

    6. Typical joe, wants to change the topic when he’s shown to be a fraud.

      1. Thanks, Ron. I read that when you published and read it again. I did comment back then, and that still stands for me.

        I still think you are being selective in your outrage, and supporting government subpoenas that limit free speech in one instance and not the other simply because of the sides. I’ll say it again…would you have preferred the Exxon emails to be stolen instead. I beg you would have been outraged.

        1. Government employees do not have freedom of speech in their official capacity. They can be inquired of, terminated for, and even prosecuted for, saying things that are “protected speech” for private individuals. You are a moron who knows nothing of the law. The Hatch Act makes all sorts of political speech and actions by government employees illegal, despite the fact that the courts have generally upheld political speech as requiring the most stringent of protections.

          If the government investigating itself is having a chilling effect on freedom of speech in a way that you find socially important then it indicates that your cause is too entangled with government. The government does not exist for the provision of scientific research, and this is a prime example of why. That sweet lucre comes with strings attached, because you took it by force from the people.

          1. And even if the FOIA has a chilling effect, isn’t it still a method of checks and balances between branches of government?

        2. J&A:

          I still think you are being selective in your outrage, and supporting government subpoenas that limit free speech in one instance and not the other simply because of the sides.

          Meanwhile, your criticism of Ron Bailey is completely impartial and consistent, and has nothing to do with “sides”. You really just think congress demanding emails from a public agency is just as bad as government demanding private emails, because you just don’t think a distinction between public and private really matters.

          And that definitely, absolutely, has nothing to do with “sides”.

    7. Re: Jackass Ass,

      But it’s amazing to me you showed no similar concerns about Smith’s subpoena of NOAA emails.

      Why should have he shown concern about that, Jackass? How could the two things be even remotely comparable?

      It too was simply a BROAD attempt to intimidate free speech[…]

      You’re a mendacious fuck, do you know that? NOAA numbers are used to establish or justify public policy and regulations.

      you showed no problem during climate gate of the theft of private emails[…]

      This in particular is not the theft of private emails, first. Second, the East Anglia emails weren’t private – the University of East Anglia is a government-run entity and was already required to release their emails through the equivalent of a FOIA request which Mann et. al. passed under their scrotums.

      You thought there would be some kind of smoking gun, and there wasn’t.

      Again, you’re a mendacious fuck. Of course there was a smoking gun; for starters, the emails showed clearly the investigators were fudging the data and that they were dumbstruck by the ‘pause’ in the warming.

      1. The individuals who hacked the East Anglia servers should have been identified (if possible) and prosecuted. East Anglia and its Climactic Research Unit were subject to FOIA but that doesn’t authorize anyone to intrude into their systems without permission and obtain the information surreptitiously without court authorization.

        1. Yeah, and Ellsberg shouldn’t have stolen the Pentagon Papers, either.

          1. Whether he should or should not have done it morally has no bearing on whether he should or should not have been investigated and prosecuted for it legally.

            1. Having said that, the officials at East Anglia who engaged in malfeasance should be civilly liable as well. The best way to force disclosure and transparency is not to depend on illegal acts but to place the burden of accountability and responsibility where it belongs.

    8. Oh yes congress has no responsibility or oversight for government spending. None whatsoever.

      I’m just going to say this clearly so even you can fucking understand you asshole:

      I’d rather live on a slightly warmer planet than in the fucking reeducation camps fuckers like these AGs, Al Gore, Bill Nye, and RFK Jr. are planning for us.

  33. I’m still dumbfounded by “scientific consensus”. Sounds like the same justification for gassing 6 million Jews – scientific consensus said they were untermensch and science can’t be wrong.

    1. Scientific consensus is a term generated by people who are not scientists and have no understanding of what science is.

      What is equally appalling to me are that the people belonging to that consensus have concocted an unfalsifiable assertion after their initial assertion was falsified. These people also are not scientists regardless of what their resumes say.

      This entire global warming hoax will go down in history as a mark of shame on the scientific community and will be used to discredit them for generations, that is if they manage to regain some credibility.

      1. I tried to convince a co-worker (who is going to grad school in Marine Biology) to tone down his Climate Change arguments except when requesting federal funding, because the local conditions would probably be of greater impact to his desired area of study (he wants to study why the species of orca native to the Puget Sound has been suffering population declines relative to their ocean going cousins), since it’s a lot more likely that you can continue to have a broad base of support for said research if you don’t go all ACC on people.

  34. Stop being so generous with these thugs. It’s not anti-free speech, it’s Fascism

  35. Is there a fossil fuel powered woodchipper nearby at the ready?

  36. What’s wrong with you people..all thinking for yourselves and shit. If we can’t out argue you, we’ll crush you with lawsuits.

    1. Lying and using threats to shut down arguments is a dead give-away that they don’t have a sound argument of their own.

      The whole GW is so transparently a scam that if it weren’t so destructive it would be hilarious. People just refuse to see it because ‘it can’t be real, it can’t be a huge conspiracy’.

      Most people can’t figure out how to feed themselves. They can’t figure out how to dress themselves. Leading them around by the nose and getting them to empty their pockets because DOOM! is child’s play and the oldest scam on earth.

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  38. time to drive home from work, i’m going to foot to floor, AC on high, and burning tires at each stop sign, fuckyou algore!

  39. Liberalism is fascism. This is why, no matter how bad the GOP is, no sensible genuine libertarian would ever vote for a Demagogue.

  40. Cry havoc and loose the woodchippers and lawyers!

  41. First they came for the Tea Party, and I did nothing…

  42. The legal punishments for deniers under consideration are not only defensible, they are too weak. Consider a just punishment for child endangerment and then consider that the deniers are endangering every child on earth. Let the punishment fit the crime: climate denial is a capital offense.

    1. Wow. What arrogance.

      I on the other hand think that keeping generations impoverished today by prohibiting their usage of the cheapest energy sources possible is far more endangering to the children of the future.

      Two million children die every year of preventable disease today — disease due mostly to not having access to inexpensive energy. Who should be punished here: the rich liberal westerner who has the luxury to promulgate his idea of a more pleasant future on the backs of the global poor, or the person who wants the poor to become rich?

  43. The legal punishments for deniers under consideration are not only defensible, they are too weak. Consider a just punishment for child endangerment and then consider that the deniers are endangering every child on earth. Let the punishment fit the crime: climate denial is a capital offense.

    1. What should the punishment be for tyrannical assholes?

    2. You are my enemy. And the enemy of all Liberty minded people.

      Your “philosophy”, as noble as you think it is has been responsible for MORE DEATHS THAN ANY OTHER PHILOSOPHY.

      In shorter words go to HELL you communist asshole!

    3. Lou, you illustrate the old maxim that sarcasm is indistinguishable from stupidity.

  44. Al Gore should be put into a woodchipper.

    Fucking waste of carbon.

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  45. Why would it be illegal to knowingly deceive people about this? Is it connected with the sale of anything?

  46. It’s just a fishing expedition.

    They just want to find an email from Exxon to someone so they can point fingers at conspiracies and explain everything.

    Because of course the politicians can’t solve global warming until everyone’s terrified of it and promises not to bounce the politicians out of office for rationing and taxing power aggressively.

    Seriously, RICO charges? Have they ever actually read what constitutes a RICO charge?

    Until they get complete control of the narrative, their hands are just tied.

  47. For example, a prominent group of climate activists sent a letter in September 2015 to the Department of Justice suggesting that Attorney General Loretta Lynch open a “RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change.” At a congressional hearing in March, Lynch testified that her office has considered taking legal action against groups promoting climate change skepticism.

    WTF? Does that mean the US government can investigate anybody under RICO who says something that disagrees with official government beliefs on science? That’s worse than McCarthyism, which was at least limited to one particular political issue.

  48. A scientific paper about climate change was published in 1959. If this is anything but a money grabbing witch hunt this paper is proof that climate change was a subject of discussion long before Exxon’s study.

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  53. The climate is always changing, always has and most likely will continue to do so…
    Spring, summer, fall, winter, repeat.

    The ‘climate change’ activists think by passing some regulations and creating another agency, a central committee can control the climate.

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  56. So does all this mean that every person who *believes* in climate change, and yet still uses fossil fuels can be sued by the government? So all those Subaru driving hippies can be indicted in their own witch hunt? Oh this will be rich.

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