Debate about climate change has moved into a new and dangerous phase. Earlier this month, seventeen state Attorneys General and Al Gore got together to plan how they will use the prosecutorial power of their state offices to investigate groups that question the claims of climate change.
This should concern all of us. The editors of National Review said that aggressively using these prosecutorial powers “should raise an entire May Day parade’s worth of red flags: Prosecutors are in the business of enforcing the law, not rewriting it, and the open, naked, promise to use prosecutorial powers as a political weapon is a prima facie abuse of office.” In a previous age, many of these state Attorneys General would now be facing impeachment hearings.
The target at the moment is the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but it is clear that Exxon is also in the sights of these prosecutors. The subpoena against CEI is a fishing expedition with the hopes of finding something that can be used against other groups and can become fodder for a full public relations campaign.
It is worth mentioning, that no one is arguing that any laws have been broken. I believe we still have a First Amendment that allows people and organizations to question the scientific claims being made about climate change.
Meanwhile, there is case in Oregon brought by children (ages 8 to 19) concerning climate change. The suit claims that the government is violating their constitutional rights “by permitting, encouraging, and otherwise enabling continued exploitation, production, and combustion of fossil fuels.”
Regardless of your view on climate change, you should at least agree that the proper debate about policy should happen at the legislative level. These Attorneys General should not be using their office in this way. Moreover, the rule of law is at stake, which these Attorneys General are supposed to uphold.