A conservative free-market think tank is suing the New York state attorney general Wednesday for violating freedom of information laws in withholding key documents related to an ongoing battle over climate change fraud.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute is filing the lawsuit in New York’s Supreme Court against Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over an agreement his office entered into with other state AGs and climate activists this year in preparing to investigate Exxon Mobil and any groups the oil giant had discussions with about climate change.
Schneiderman and more than a dozen other Democratic attorney generals had pledged to investigate Exxon for fraud after several news outlets reported that the company buried data from its own scientists in the 1970s that showed its business would be significantly harmed by climate change. Exxon Mobil and the conservative group were subpoenaed by the attorneys general to hand over decades of correspondence related to global warming. Exxon refutes the allegations as false, and says it recognizes climate change and supports enacting carbon fees.
Many scientists blame greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels such as crude oil for increasing the Earth’s temperature, resulting in more severe heat waves, flash floods and prolonged drought.
More recently, however, an agreement by the 17 attorneys general was released by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, another conservative think tank, showing that the AGs were trying to skirt public records laws.
The “common interest agreement” signed by the attorneys general included a provision making all documents regarding the climate pledge to be marked confidential. That would keep all of those documents blocked from any Freedom of Information Act requests. In addition, the agreement would keep communications between the attorneys general and outside environmentalist groups secret.
“What is AG Schneiderman’s office trying to hide?” said Sam Kazman, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s chief counsel.