Sunday, April 24, 2016

Exxon and Its Allies Invoke First Amendment to Fight Climate Fraud Probes


Neela Banerjee
A team of state attorneys general are teaming up to support climate action
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, center, joined a coalition of her colleagues seeking climate action and considering investigations of Exxon. Credit: Reuters
Exxon, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and their allies are invoking free speech protections in a pugnacious pushback against subpoenas from attorneys general seeking decades of documents on climate change. Their argument is that the state-level investigations violate the First Amendment rights of those who question climate science.

Exxon has sued to block a subpoena issued by the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and in an unusual step, named as a defendant the Washington, D.C. law firm and attorney representing the territory in the inquiry. In its complaint against the Virgin Islands subpoena, Exxon wrote, "The chilling effect of this inquiry...strikes at protected speech at the core of the First Amendment."

In a pointed letter to Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker on April 20, CEI's attorney called the subpoena "offensive" and "un-American," and warned to "expect a fight." Andrew Grossman, outside counsel for CEI, wrote, "You have no right to wield your power as a prosecutor to advance a policy agenda by persecuting those who disagree with you."  MORE