Climate change activists have been secretly coordinating with one another regarding ways to prosecute individuals, organizations, and companies that are their ideological foes. They met to develop a strategy to use RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), which was intended to provide stronger weapons for prosecuting organized crime, against those who speak out against the Obama administration’s war on fossil fuels.
The activists, including Naomi Oreskes and Bill McKibben, recently coordinated with attorneys general (AG) culminating with a March 29 press conference, led by New York AG Eric Schneiderman and joined by former Vice President Al Gore.
There the “unprecedented coalition”—as Schneiderman’s press release called it—was announced: the newly formed AGs for Clean Power. Though “vague” on their specific plans, 17 AGs (16 Democrats and 1 Independent) have, as the Huffington Post reported: “committed to pursuing an all-levers approach” to, as Gore said: “hold to account those commercial interests that have been, according to the best available evidence, deceiving the American people, communicating in a fraudulent way.”
ExxonMobil has been the first and most obvious target. While the RICO Act is federal legislation passed in 1970, more than two dozen states have “Baby RICO” laws—which are, according to InsideClimateNews.org, “broader than the federal version.”
Four different investigations claiming that Exxon conspired to cover up its understanding of climate science have been launched. Schneiderman was the first. Last November, he issued a subpoena demanding “that ExxonMobil Corporation give investigators documents spanning four decades of research findings and communications about climate change.”
In January, the Los Angeles Times announced: “California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris is investigating whether Exxon Mobil Corp. repeatedly lied to the public and its shareholders about the risk to its business from climate change—and whether such actions could amount to securities fraud and violations of environmental laws.”
On April 19, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey opened an investigation to seek “information regarding whether Exxon may have misled consumers and/or investors with respect to the impact of fossil fuels on climate change, and climate change-driven risks to Exxon’s business.” Just days after the March 29 press conference, Virgin Islands’ AG Claude Walker, in his demand for records, became the first to cite the racketeering law to “probe Exxon over its longtime denial of climate change and its products’ role in it.” Additionally, he listed roughly 100 academic institutions and free market think tanks in his subpoena.
The National Review reports that Walker promised a “transformational” use of his prosecutorial powers in the global-warming crusade. Separately, Walker also subpoenaed records from the respected Washington DC think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Schneiderman and Healey have also requested records from research and advocacy groups. Harris, who is running for the Senate seat to be vacated by retiring Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), “isn’t expected to do much in terms of investigating Exxon,” according to the Daily Caller.