Environmental activists and the ExxonMobil shakedown

Ever since Big Tobacco reached a deal with the U.S. government to settle the claims against it the folks who profited most from the deal have been looking for ways to replicate it. They haven’t had much success, but not for lack of trying.

No, the trial lawyers and university scholars and public interest activists and media hogs and politicians who found the tobacco case so helpful to them in so many ways tried to get their hooks into Big Snack, Big Soda, Big Pharma, Big Food and other industries without much success.

Their only bright spot thus far is they’ve managed to get Big Oil — or ExxonMobil at any rate — into court over allegations the company lied for years to the public about the effects of global warming.

The suit is the brainchild of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman whose case was moving along fine until the judge determined ExxonMobil had not lied to anyone about the possible connection between the use of fossil fuels and global warming. In fact, he found they’d been publicizing the potential linkage for some time.

Mr. Schneiderman, who’s not one to give up easily, changed tactics and forged ahead. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the academic community. It was still busy trying to make the case the original charge held water. On August 22, The New York Times published an op-ed by Harvard University post-doctoral fellow Geoffrey Supran and Harvard University History of Science Professor Naomi Oreskes promoting a new finding that did just that.

“Scrutiny is mounting on the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company,” they wrote. “On multiple legal fronts, the question is being asked: Did Exxon Mobil’s communications about climate change break the law?”

The answer, as the New York judge has already determined, is no. Ms. Oreskes may be an anti-global warming activist but she’s no climate scientist. She’s in a poor position to judge the science of which she claims to know the history but is in an excellent position to develop ideas the so-called environmental community can use as the leading wedge in suits against companies like ExxonMobil.

She’s following a playbook very similar to the one used by the plaintiffs against Big Tobacco, which probably utilized more activists with fancy sounding titles than actual scientists to make its case.

In 2010, along with Eric Conway, Ms. Oreskes wrote “Merchants of Doubt,” which claimed scientists with conservative connections and leanings had let their politics interfere with their interpretation of data and were used by Big Oil to mislead the public on the dangers of issues like climate change.

Some academics dismissed the book as merely a “one-sided polemic.” Nonetheless, it helped give considerable momentum to the #ExxonKnew campaign on social media.

Ms. Oreskes’s work has been the subject of sharp questions by some leading scientists, including S. Fred Singer, a physicist and president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project. Advocates of man-made global warming regard Singer as one of the world’s principal and most effective “climate deniers.”

The book he co-wrote with other skeptics, “Why Scientists Disagree about Global Warming: The NIPCC Report on Consensus,” and released during a 2014 Paris climate meeting, has been particularly helpful in beating back the idea the issue is settled because the scientific community is in lockstep agreement about the facts, the cause, and the solution. In truth, there are about as many theories as there are serious scientists looking seriously at the problem.

Ms. Oreskes is hardly a disinterested observer. She’s an activist who is using both the report and the op-ed in the Times to jumpstart the #ExxonKnew campaign which, most observers would likely agree, is floundering as a result of Mr. Schneiderman’s failure to make progress in the New York courts.

Ironically enough, her work, like the work of so many others attacking ExxonMobil and Big Oil, is generously supported by The Rockefeller Family Fund — whose economic strength is founded in the fortune created when family patriarch John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil practically ran the American oil industry.

For anyone who bothers to connect the dots, the effort to prove the case against Big Oil has many fingerprints on it. It’s not some kind of artesian effort to get at the truth with the different players coming together to reach the same conclusions at convenient times by coincidence. There is too much order and logic behind it all for that to be the case.

Someone or something is behind it all, motivated more by self-interest than by altruism. On the other hand, even if this effort fails it’s been a pretty good shakedown cruise for the theories and tactics they planned to employ against industries with deep pockets. What ultimately flops against Big Oil could, with a little tweaking here and there, work quite well against Big Something at some time in the future.

Peter Roff is a former senior writer for United Press International who appears regularly as a commentator on the One America News network.

Read more at Washington Times

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Comments (6)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    No vultures circling over Exxon/Mobil just like with the firearms industry the trial lawyer vultures and sharks smelled blood but they were stopped with the PROCTETION of LAWFUL COMMERCE ACT to halt all those politicly based lawsuits by the law firm BUZZARD/VULTURE,’HYNAH,SLUG and SNAKE

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  • Avatar

    Sonnyhill

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    Several years ago local high school students successfully blocked the installation of a cellular transmitter on a municipal water tower. A teacher gladly admitted that he was coaching the kids to become activists.
    As for the assault on Big Oil, I believe the Socialists want to control all sources of energy . If successful , they would control us.

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  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    Mant leading companies donate to the Eco-Wacko groups in fact B.P was one of their big time supporters before the Gulf Oil Spill and the now defunked ENRON was a supporter as well

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  • Avatar

    Al Shelton

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    New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman-et-al make one fatally flawed assumption.
    That is that CO2 is causing global warming, hence climate change.
    The claim that CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, causing global warming, has been totally debunked.
    There is no logical proof; no mathematical proof; no empirical proof; and no experimental proof, that CO2 causes global warming.
    Their suit should be thrown out………….

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    • Avatar

      JayPee

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      Hair Sch – night – ur – mahn went to law school.

      The do not teach the Scientific Method at law school.

      They do not teach LOGIC either !

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    In a book i once read FACTS NOT FEAR one parent showed their child some clouds the kid said LOOK AT THE POLUTION another parent ask why their chold was crying and the kids said THEY KILLED THE TREES TO MAKE THEIR BED and one science text book at one school urged kids to Boycott McDolands to protest the destruction of the Rainforests(We all know the rainforests are doing fine)and of course many parents already know of bad stuff like Captian Planet and the Planeteers and Network Earth both from leftists Red Ted Turner

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