Environmental Inquisition Targets Think Tank For “Climate Denial”

Environmental Inquisition Targets Think Tank For “Climate Denial”
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Environmental Inquisition Targets Think Tank For “Climate Denial” by Walter Olson, Foundation For Economic Education

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The Criminalization of Wrongthink

The campaign to attach legal consequences to supposed “climate denial” has now crossed a fateful line:

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today denounced a subpoena from Attorney General Claude E. Walker of the U.S. Virgin Islands that attempts to unearth a decade of the organization’s materials and work on climate change policy.

This is the latest effort in an intimidation campaign to criminalize speech and research on the climate debate, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and former Vice President Al Gore…

The subpoena requests a decade’s worth of communications, emails, statements, drafts, and other documents regarding CEI’s work on climate change and energy policy, including private donor information. It demands that CEI produce these materials from 20 years ago, from 1997-2007, by April 30, 2016.

CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman said the group “will vigorously fight to quash this subpoena. It is an affront to our First Amendment rights of free speech and association.” More coverage of the subpoena at the Washington Times and Daily Caller.

A few observations:

  • If the forces behind this show-us-your-papers subpoena succeed in punishing (or simply inflicting prolonged legal harassment on) groups conducting supposedly wrongful advocacy, there’s every reason to think they will come after other advocacy groups later. Like yours.
  • This article in the Observer details the current push to expand the probe of climate advocacy, which first enlisted New York AG Eric Schneiderman and then California’s Kamala Harris — into a broader coalition of AGs, with Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands just having signed on. More than a dozen others, such as Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, seem to be signaling support but have not formally jumped in. More here: Peggy Little, Federalist Society.
  • CEI people, many of them longtime friends, have been active critics of the Schneiderman effort, with Hans Bader, a senior attorney there, highly critical just a week ago.
  • In these working groups of attorneys general, legal efforts are commonly parceled out among the states in a deliberate and strategic way, with particular tasks being assigned to AGs who have comparative advantage in some respect (such as an unusually favorable state law to work with, or superior staff expertise or media access).
    Why would one of the most politically sensitive tasks of all — opening up a legal attack against CEI, a long-established nonprofit well known in Washington and in libertarian and conservative ideological circles — be assigned to the AG from a tiny and remote jurisdiction? Is it that a subpoena coming from the Virgin Islands is logistically inconvenient to fight in some way, or that local counsel capable of standing up to this AG are scarce on the ground there, or that a politician in the Caribbean is less exposed to political backlash from CEI’s friends and fans than one in a major media center? Or what?
  • I recommend checking out the new Free Speech and Science Project, which intends to fight back against criminalization of advocacy by, among other things, organizing legal defense and seeking to hold officials accountable for misusing the law to attack advocacy.
  • This is happening at a time of multiple, vigorous, sustained legal attacks on what had been accepted freedoms of advocacy and association. As I note in a new piece at Cato, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just demanded that the Securities and Exchange Commission investigate several large corporations that have criticized her pet plan to impose fiduciary legal duties on retirement advisors, supposedly on the ground that it is a securities law violation for them to be conveying to investors a less alarmed view of the regulations’ effect than they do in making their case to the Labor Department. This is not particularly compelling as securities law, but it’s great as a way to chill speech by publicly held businesses.

Cross-posted from Overlawyered.

Climate Denial

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  1. If you want to know what controls the weather on Earth, look up in the sky, it is called the Sun. The Sun is Prime mover of the weather.

    The weather system of Earth is self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing.

    In spite of the enormous transfer of The Sun’s energy infused into the Earth atmosphere each 24 hours, the Earth maintains a constant temperature because, as a whole, there is no net gain or loss. The Earth receives 164 Watts per square meter over a 24 hour day , So the entire planet receives 84(84000000000000)Terrawatts of Power each 24 hours.

    The Global thermodynamic equilibrium of the Sun-Earth-Oceans weather dynamics is too large in scale and size from mankind to have any affect. Only an arrogant Human would think otherwise.

    Man made global warming models and Climate change theory is best described as ” a beggar, wrapped in purple, whom ignorant people mistook for a king.” Their theory is a mass of errors and deceptive ideas and opposed to common sense.

    Their climate theory wraps all these errors and fallacies and clothes them in magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying error.

    In reality, the earth’s greenhouse effect is a good thing. If not for the greenhouse effect, earth’s average surface temperature would be -18°C (Celsius), or -40°F (Fahrenheit). Instead, our planet exists at a livable 15°C, or 59°F.

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