Our Take: The Climate-Related Subpoena

Since CEI was subpoenaed on April 8 for a decade’s worth of work from 20 years ago, many have asked “Why?” and “How?” Here is CEI’s take on what’s really going on with this subpoena from the U.S. Virgin Island’s attorney general.

The investigation is harassment.

  • The breadth of the ‘inquiry’—encompassing all documents and communications during 1997 through January 1, 2007, concerning any potential impacts of climate policy on affordable energy (or, as the AG puts it, on “ExxonMobil’s sales, revenues, or business”)—includes most documents and communications of CEI’s energy and environment team during the period of interest.
  • Our energy and climate team has three full-time staff. Even if we work on the subpoena full time, after hours, and weekends we could not comply with the AG’s document production deadline of April 30.
  • The subpoena is clearly designed to prevent us from doing our work.

The investigation is an attack on freedom of speech.

  • Democracy is an adversarial process. Interests that disagree on policy will inevitably challenge the certitude or accuracy of claims made by their opponents. But those of authoritarian bent easily lose patience with a competitive marketplace of ideas, which does not guarantee them victory in advance.
  • So they cheat. They reimagine a narrow provision of the Clean Air Act to demand far-reaching climate policies that would be dead on arrival in Congress. They deny that the “most ambitious climate change agreement in history” is a treaty to bypass Senate review. They peddle flimflam and sophistry and call it science.
  • When all that fails to work, they try to use the prosecutorial powers of the state to chill speech, silence dissent, and extort payoffs via settlement agreements.

The investigation is retribution? 

CEI analysts have spoken out against New York AG Schneiderman and his allies’ shakedown agenda in op-eds and blog posts. Is the investigation payback? Inquiring minds want to know! The appendix at the bottom of this advisory provides links to recent CEI critiques of Schneiderman and his allies.  

Criminalizing policy differences is a bad idea, but if anyone is guilty of racketeering on climate change it is the people launching and demanding RICO-style investigations of climate skeptics.

  • From day one, the scientists, politicians, and activists leading the global warming movement have denied, discounted, or disregarded the very serious risks to human health and welfare of their agenda, which would put an energy-starved planet on an energy diet.
  • Their material interest in perpetrating this fraud is massive. Federal, state, and international climate policies already generate taxpayer-funded gravy trains totaling scores of billions annually. Decarbonizing global energy markets—the policy objective of their agenda—would transfer literally trillions of dollars from the market-driven energy sector to the politically mandated and subsidized energy sector. 

Appendix: Recent CEI commentary on climate McCarthyism