On March 29, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced with great fanfare a coalition of 17 Democrat state attorneys general who were preparing to pursue “climate deniers” to “the fullest extent of the law.” Calling themselves “AGs United for Clean Power,” the group vowed to “as aggressively as possible” investigate and prosecute businesses like Exxon Mobile that commit “fraud” by “lying” about climate change.
Like Grand Inquisitors, they demanded — without judicial sanction — documents and files on individuals and groups with dissenting opinions on global warming. Most, if not all, of their targets responded by telling them to pound sand.
Meanwhile, a group of 13 Republican attorneys general sent their Democrat counterparts letters warning them that if Democrats can use the force of law to silence climate change narratives they don’t like, so can Republicans. “If it is possible to minimize the risks of climate change, then the same goes for exaggeration,” said the letter. “If minimization is fraud, exaggeration is fraud.”
Now, according to Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins Jr. on Opinion Journal, Schneiderman’s “phony-bologna” campaign is “completely unraveling,” with one Democrat AG after another bowing out of the charade, leaving Schneiderman holding the bag.
“His campaign is completely unraveling,” Jenkins said. “First of all, it was a phony-bologna case to begin with, that Exxon had done these studies in the 70s on climate change and then lied to the public about what it had found. It didn’t. It published these studies in journals and made them available to everybody and they’ve been available ever since, so there was no mystery here.”
But the other thing is that Eric Schneiderman claimed he had assembled 17 Attorneys General – all the Democratic Attorneys General … in the US to follow this case with him, and it’s increasing clear that that was just a lie. He committed his own fraud. Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands signed on for a while, but now they’ve melted away. California claimed it was going to launch an investigation and it never did. The rest never signed up at all. I mean we have these private lawsuits that have now brought out all these private emails, like ones between the Iowa Attorney General’s staff saying that Schneiderman himself was the wildcard and that they didn’t want to participate in this charade.”
The host pointed out that the AGs were sending out non-judicial subpoenas. “In other words, no judge, no court ever sanctioned this ‘phishing expedition’ into the views of people within and outside of these companies.”
“That’s right,” Jenkins replied.
And in fact, the most far reaching was issued by a very lightweight Attorney General office in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which went after all these think tanks, all these groups marginally connected to Exxon, or who had voiced skepticism about mainstream climate science claims. That subpoena has now been withdrawn, and the Virgin Islands has basically disappeared from this whole enterprise as well. So Schneiderman is left standing there alone, and now he’s basically abandoned the whole thrust of this investigation and turned to a new thing he invented just to, sort of, run out the clock until his term ends in 2018.”
Jenkins also noted that while Exxon did nothing wrong, “there is this deeply conspiratorial and suspicious coordination between the media and Attorney General Schneiderman via these NGOs.” He added that the whole failed effort is a sign that environmentalist activist groups have “just given up hope on anything except vilifying people who don’t agree with them.”
I suspect that the campaign of intimidation was supposed to continue until at least election day, but it was just too morally, ethically and factually bankrupt to be credible for more than a few months.