A study published by Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes has made clear that the investigations by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and his “Green 20” coalition of state AGs — a scheme first exposed by E&E Legal in documents obtained under open records requests, and now the subject of multiple lawsuits over the AGs’ subsequent stonewall — are designed to punish and silence opponents of the “climate” political agenda. Other emails obtained under public records requests suggest a key objective is also to obtain a settlement which would be directed to the global warming industry.
The study is the latest move by eco-activists to promote and support investigations by Democrat attorneys general into what businesses and free market think tanks have said about the “climate change” political agenda.
“This is merely the latest salvo in a long-running Rockefeller-led campaign to use law enforcement to silence, and extract a massive settlement from, opponents of a failed political agenda,” said Chris Horner, E&E Legal Senior Legal Fellow. “Our FOI requests exposed this scheme caused nearly all of the AG ‘wingmen to flee, and the remaining players to build stone walls to hide from the public who they coordinated this scheme with.”
Strategy Developed Five Years Ago to Enlist AGs, Support Investigations
As exposed by E&E Legal, the current campaign against ExxonMobil and others is based on a strategy developed at a 2012 conference in La Jolla, California, conceived of and organized by Oreskes. That conference produced a document that would serve as a blueprint for the years to come.
The blueprint notes that “State attorneys general can also subpoena documents, raising the possibility that a single sympathetic state attorney general might have substantial success in bringing key internal documents to light.” The activists were fortunate to find not one, but nearly two dozen state AGs, all of them Democrats, who were willing to join the crusade. It turned out most of them didn’t have the conviction to stand and explain themselves when the blowback rightly ensued after exposure of early details of how they worked with contingency-fee lawyers, green groups and major party donors to organize the disgraceful campaign.
Later, at a forum on Capitol Hill, Oreskes admitted to working with the AGs from the very start:
“I was invited about a year or so ago to New York to speak to the staff of the New York Attorney Generals’ office mostly about the work we did in Merchants of Doubt … And I also participated a few weeks ago in a meeting in Boston with some colleagues from the Union of Concerned Scientists, which also involved the staff of Attorney Generals offices from a number of states who came to listen to again factual presentations about climate science, history of climate disinformation and also a presentation by Sharon Eubanks who had led the US Department of Justice prosecution of the tobacco industry under the RICO statutes.”
Emails turned over in a response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Horner and the Competitive Enterprise Institute — if, as is becoming the norm, only after they were forced to sue — revealed that the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) Peter Frumhoff was also involved in the effort to enlist the AGs (CEI had been subpoenaed by the U.S. Virgin Islands AG as part of his “Green 20” investigation). Frumhoff had helped Oreskes organize the La Jolla conference and was shown in emails to the “RICO 20” professors to be actively pursuing state AGs in the summer of 2015, months before any subpoena issued:
“Just so you know, we’re also in the process of exploring other state-based approaches to holding fossil fuel companies legally accountable – we think there’ll likely be a strong basis for encouraging state (e.g. AG) action forward and, in that context, opportunities for climate scientists to weigh in. It would be interesting – and perhaps very useful – to consider how calls for legal accountability will play out in the court of public opinion in different states/with different subsets of the American public – something perhaps we could work with you all on as this unfolds.”
Frumhoff would later join climate activist lawyer Matt Pawa to attend a secret briefing of the ”Green 20″ AGs ahead of their press conference with Al Gore, after which, emails show, Pawa Schneiderman’s assistant AG Lem Srolovic and Vermont’s Scott Kline tried to hide the meeting from the press. Srolovic has also been accused of using his private Gmail account to communicate and coordinate with environmental groups, thereby attempting to avoid having to disclose his dealings to the public, despite being a public employee.
In subsequent litigation, both Schneiderman and his co-ringleader, former Attorney General William Sorrell of Vermont, have been shown to have used GMail for work-related correspondence as well, now at issue in open records lawsuits by E&E Legal in both states.
Schneiderman is also refusing to disclose his communications with the activists and funders behind the #ExxonKnew campaign, citing a “law enforcement” exemption. Email logs turned over by Schneiderman’s office show it was communicating with party donor Tom Steyer’s office on this issue and, even more troubling, the Rockefeller Family Fund’s Lee Wasserman for many months before Schneiderman issued his subpoenas. The emails between Schneiderman’s office and Wasserman discussed “specific companies regarding climate change,” according to the logs.
E&E Legal will continue its pursuit of obtaining all public records exposing how this coordinated, continuing campaign came about.