A coalition of Democratic attorneys general in 16 states announced Tuesday an unprecedented campaign to pursue companies that challenge the catastrophic climate change narrative, raising concerns over free speech and the use of state authority to punish political foes.
Standing beside former Vice President Al Gore, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the state officials are committed to “working together on key climate-related initiatives,” including queries into whether fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil have committed fraud by deceiving the public and shareholders about the impact of man-made carbon dioxide emissions.
Two states — California and New York — already have launched probes into ExxonMobil, while attorneys general from Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands indicated Tuesday that they would follow suit. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker, an independent, is the only non-Democrat involved in the campaign, called AGs United for Clean Power.
“The bottom line is simple: Climate change is real; it is a threat to all the people we represent,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “If there are companies, whether they’re utilities, whether they’re fossil fuel companies, committing fraud in an effort to maximize their short-term profits at the expense of the people we represent, we want to find out about it. We want to expose it and want to pursue them to the fullest extent of the law.”
Mr. Schneiderman also announced that 20 attorneys general representing 18 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands filed a brief Tuesday in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan rule, which has been challenged by attorneys general in 25 mostly red states.
The campaign was spurred by articles last year alleging Exxon hid research conducted by its own scientists linking fossil fuel emissions and global warming. Exxon officials have denied the claims and countered that the investigation was conducted by journalism entities that receive funding from foundations known for their climate change activism.