Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is persecuting ExxonMobil and now me for having opinions on fossil fuels she disagrees with. My company, the Center for Industrial Progress, is one of the 12 cited in the new subpoena of Exxon, meaning that Exxon is supposed to release any private or confidential correspondence any of its employees have ever had with anyone from my company. I have nothing to fear whatsoever about what such a witch-hunt would or wouldn’t reveal on my end, but I do not tolerate anyone violating my rights.
So I wrote the Attorney General a three-word response that is not appropriate for a family publication. See it here.
That is all she deserved but it’s worth elaborating on some of the legal, moral, and scientific questions involved, particularly since the word “fraud” has been thrown around.
The government has no right to demand a single email of mine or Exxon’s unless it has evidence that we are committing fraud by concealing or fabricating evidence. In the case of the climate impact of CO2, this is impossible–because all the evidence about CO2 and climate is in the public domain, largely collected and disseminated by government agencies or government-funded educational institutions.
What ExxonMobil is being prosecuted for is expressing an opinion about the evidence that the government disagrees with. Or, in the case of the #ExxonKnew meme, they are being prosecuted for failing to express an opinion the government agrees with.
The “knew” in #ExxonKnew refers to the fact that certain Exxon employees, like anyone else who followed climate science, knew about and discussed the existence of speculative claims that increasing atmospheric CO2 would lead to runaway global warming and catastrophic climate change. As I document in “The Secret History of Fossil Fuels,” chapter 1 of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, many of these claims asserted that we would be experiencing catastrophic climate change today.
Apparently, Exxon was (rightly) suspicious of these claims and the Al Gore-led funding bonanza of scientists who agreed with them. Exxon refused to endorse climate catastrophism and funded alternative research–which they had every right to do even if they ended up being wrong.
But they ended up being right. The speculative claims turned out to be false. We have experienced mild (not runaway) warming that is only loosely correlated with CO2–and global fossil fueled development has helped bring climate-related deaths to an all-time low. How can you say #ExxonKnew about an imminent climate catastrophe that wasn’t real?