The debate over prosecuting climate change “fraud” has landed squarely in the lap of Hillary Clinton, who must now decide whether the Democratic Party platform will include a resolution urging the Justice Department to pursue climate dissent.
So far it doesn’t look good for climate skeptics. The 15-member Democratic Platform Drafting Committee approved Friday a statement calling for a Justice Department investigation into “alleged corporate fraud on the part of fossil fuel companies who have reportedly misled shareholders and the public on the scientific reality of climate change.”
The proposal won the unanimous support of panelists chosen by both Mrs. Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, but whether the language makes it onto the Democratic Party platform ultimately rests with the Clinton campaign.
As the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Mrs. Clinton has broad discretion over the final contents of the document, which goes to the full platform committee for approval July 8-9 in Orlando, Florida.
The recommendation threatens to drag into the presidential campaign a debate that until now had been waged largely by members of Congress and states’ attorneys general. A Democrat-led coalition of 17 attorneys general, known as AGs United for Clean Power, announced in March that it would pursue fossil fuel companies and others challenging the catastrophic climate consensus for possible fraud.
Sam Kazman, general counsel for the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the effort to inject party politics into what has already been described as an ideologically motivated effort to chill scientific debate comes as a “dangerous mix.”
“Whenever you have claims of fraud being tossed around in a policy debate, what’s going on is not consumer protection but an attempt at censorship, wholesale censorship,” Mr. Kazman said. “I think they [Democrats] have their eyes on appealing to certain constituencies. It’s not all that far a jump to call for the shutting down of the debate in order to get votes during the election.”
The proposal also presents a quandary for Mrs. Clinton. On the one hand, adding the proposal to the platform would help shore up her standing with progressives, who have made no secret of their preference for Mr. Sanders and their doubts about her commitment to left-wing causes.
On the other hand, allowing the language to move forward would send a signal that Mrs. Clinton can be pushed around by the left on an issue with serious First Amendment implications. The Clinton camp has already folded on the death penalty issue, allowing the drafting committee to forward a proposal calling for the abolishing of capital punishment even though Mrs. Clinton has said it should be allowed for “heinous crimes.”