Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

The Climate Inquisition: Attorneys General Go Rogue

No matter what voters say in the upcoming US election, a coalition of Attorneys General intends to push for ‘even more aggressive’ climate action.

the March 29th press conference

Eric Schneiderman, New York state’s Attorney General, is a climate inquisitor. Last November, he subpoenaed Exxon Mobil. He says he’s trying to determine whether the oil giant misled shareholders and the public about climate change. The overarching allegation, advanced by green activists for years, is that Exxon supposedly possessed and suppressed secret knowledge connected to carbon dioxide emissions, thereby committing crimes against humanity. (See this overwrought Bill McKibben piece, the headline of which proclaims: ‘No corporation has ever done anything this big or bad’.)

As a November editorial at BloombergView.com observed, it’s unclear what Schneiderman “hopes to discover in the stack of climate-change documents he’s ordered Exxon Mobil to produce,” since his rationale is “pretty thin.” Accusing Schneiderman of dangerously misusing government power, the editorial rightly dismissed as “preposterous” the idea that Exxon was ever in a position to single-handedly suppress vital information:

Climate change has been intensively investigated by countless researchers worldwide. No one company is in a position to direct or defeat the scientific consensus.

Equally absurd is the argument that Exxon investors were unaware that future stock prices might be affected by climate change, given the non-stop media discussion of climate for the past 30 years. Yet it is on this flimsy basis that truckloads of taxpayers’ money are now being squandered.

A few weeks ago, the climate inquisition expanded. At a press conference attended by Al Gore, Schneiderman, and six other state Attorneys General, a coalition called AG’s United for Clean Power made its debut. It’s raison d’être appears to be state persecution of those who challenge climate change orthodoxy.

But it’s even worse than that. In the jurisdictions in which they live, Attorneys General are at the very top of the law enforcement pyramid. They therefore have a special responsibility to safeguard the good name of the justice system – to act in a manner that demonstrates its integrity and impartiality. Attorneys General cannot go rogue.

Yet as a media release makes clear, these particular Attorneys General are thumbing their nose at democracy itself. Should the American people elect a president who thinks climate change isn’t worth worrying about, should they indicate via the ballot box that the economy and jobs are more important, these Attorneys General don’t intend to pay the slightest attention.

Attorney_Generals_gone_rogu

The press release tells us they’ve vowed “to fight any efforts to roll-back the meaningful [climate] progress we’ve made over the past eight years” once a new president takes power in early 2017. Their plan is to “defend climate change progress made under President Obama and to push the next president for even more aggressive action.” Washington is gridlocked and dysfunctional, they say, so it’s “up to the states to lead on the generation-defining issue of climate change.”

Back in 2008, shortly after taking office, President Barack Obama ungraciously advised Republicans that “Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won.” It isn’t wise to ignore alternative perspectives, or to be abrasive and offensive to people you work with, but he’s right: elections are, indeed, supposed to have consequences. If the public votes for a change of direction, that change is supposed to happen.

And yet here are Attorneys bleeping General. Paid by the public purse. Vowing to disregard the verdict of voters. At the same time insisting that what an oil company might have done in the 1970s is a law enforcement matter in 2016.

How pathetic. And how terrifying.

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These Attorney Generals have signed onto the climate inquisition:

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To be continued. In the meantime, more commentary on this matter appears here:

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This post was corrected on 22 April 2016. The plural of Attorney General is ‘Attorneys General’ rather than ‘Attorney Generals’

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