Activists Admit at Friendly Forum They’ve Been Working with NY AG on Climate RICO Campaign for Over a Year

At a forum on Wednesday hosted by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, several climate activists including Naomi Oreskes and representatives from the Union of Concerned Scientists admitted that they have been meeting with the state Attorneys General launching climate RICO investigations for over a year.

The fact that the AGs have been meeting with Oreskes is pretty telling considering that for years she has been spearheading the effort to find a way to prosecute oil companies under RICO laws. She’s author of Merchants of Doubt, a book published in 2010 that attempts to link ExxonMobil to tobacco companies. She’s also on the board of the Climate Accountability Institute (CAI), the group that organized the now infamous 2012 La Jolla Conference with the Union of Concerned Scientists at which activists brainstormed ways they could launch racketeering investigations into ExxonMobil. The New York Times even credits Oreskes with conceiving the conference.

At the question and answer session of the forum, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY-20) asked Oreskes “Have any of you had interactions with the any of the AGs?”

Oreskes replied,

“Yes, thank you. Thank you for your work. I have. I was invited about a year or so ago to New York to speak to the staff of the New York Attorney Generals’ office mostly about the work we did in Merchant of Doubt … And I also participated a few weeks ago in a meeting in Boston with some colleagues from the Union of Concerned Scientists, which also involved the staff of Attorney Generals offices from a number of states who came to listen to again factual presentations about climate science, history of climate disinformation and also a presentation by Sharon Eubanks who had led the US Department of justice prosecution of tobacco industry under the RICO statues.” (emphasis added)

Note that Oreskes mentioned she was joined by Sharon Eubanks for the AG meeting in Boston – this is interesting because she directed the Department of Justice’s tobacco litigation effort in the 1990s. Eubanks also attended the 2012 La Jolla Conference as well as a closed-door January 2016 meeting at the Rockefeller Family Fund offices, at which activists brainstormed ways they could establish “in the public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution.” This meeting in Boston is especially significant because, as Energy In Depth noted previously, Attorney General Maura Healey openly admitted that she had already determined Exxon was guilty before she even began investigating the company.

After hearing from Oreskes, Rep. Tonko then turned to Kathy Mulvey of the Union of Concerned Scientists who replied,

Yes, UCS has also been involved in providing information to attorneys general who are moving into the issue on whether these companies violated any state laws in providing this information to shareholders and the public.  Our interest is really in ensuring they have access to the best science on which to base any actions and also documenting the responsibilities of these companies in terms of their emissions and their role in providing this information. So our chief scientist Peter Frumhoff who’s actually here with me as well and he has briefed a number of the AGs and he co-convened a session with the Harvard law school back in April that was attended by staff (inaudible) many of the AGs (inaudible).” (emphasis added)

Of course the only reason we know that UCS’ Peter Frumhoff briefed the AGs ahead of their March 29 press conference with Al Gore is because several batches of FOIA’d emails revealing that fact were recently made available to the public. These emails not only showed that activists were secretly meeting with the AGs launching investigations, but that both parties were actively trying to hide their meetings through Common Interests Agreements and stonewalling the press. In fact Lem Srolovic of the New York Attorney General’s Office told activist Matt Pawa not to tell a Wall Street Journal reporter that he had briefed the AGs ahead of their press conference: “My ask is if you speak to the reporter,” Srolovic said, “to not confirm that you attended or otherwise discuss the event.”

After their secret was revealed however, activists went into full damage control-mode and attempted to claim they had been open the whole time and “there’s nothing hidden here.” This forum’s question and answer sessions is undoubtedly part of that attempt to shift the story.

But if there’s “nothing hidden” why were activists penning Common Interest Agreements and telling each other not to speak to the press? And if there’s “nothing hidden” why are they happy to respond to this forum but not the House Science Chairman Smith’s requests?

Transcript of Progressive Caucus Hearing Exchange on Climate Activists Briefing State AGs

Tonko: If indeed a fossil based industry has conducted themselves in a disingenuous manner, and moved along with a misinformation campaign; if indeed that’s a fact, that is truly regrettable because what we need to do is make certain that we’re sound stewards of the environment; that we pass to the next generations an environment that is as clean if not cleaner than that which we inherited. And right now one of the issues in New York is the move by Science (inaudible) to bring our Attorney General before the committee because of his review of the allegations. Now instead of focusing on allegations, they’re bringing in the AGs in a manner that would review them for their actions.  And I’m wondering if any of you have been involved in any of the states where the AGs are now the target for reviewing allegations that obviously respond to the needs of the different consuming public.

Have any of you had interactions with the any of the AGs?

Naomi Oreskes: Yes, thank you. Thank you for your work. I have. I was invited about a year or so ago to New York to speak to the staff of the New York Attorney Generals’ office mostly about the work we did in Merchant of Doubt – the history of misinformation and what our findings were. It was a fact based presentation. And I also participated a few weeks ago in a meeting in Boston with some colleagues from the Union of Concerned Scientists, which also involved the staff of Attorney Generals offices from a number of states who came to listen to again factual presentations about climate science, history of climate disinformation and also a presentation by Sharon Eubanks who had led the US Department of justice prosecution of tobacco industry under the RICO statues.

Tonko: Kathy? Ms. Mulvey?

Kathy Mulvey: Yes, UCS has also been involved in providing information to attorneys general who are moving into the issue on whether these companies violated any state laws in providing this information to shareholders and the public.  Our interest is really in ensuring they have access to the best science on which to base any actions and also documenting the responsibilities of these companies in terms of their emissions and their role in providing this information. So our chief scientist Peter Frumhoff who’s actually here with me as well and he has briefed a number of the AGs and he co-convened a session with the Harvard law school back in April that was attended by staff (inaudible) many of the AGs (inaudible).

Tonko: I find that very encouraging. Yes, Ms. Lamb.

Natasha Lamb: As I mentioned in my testimony, I have personally not been in touch with the AGs but the report that we negotiated has certainly been an important part of their investigation.

Tonko: That’s great, thank you. Mr. Garvey?

Ed Garvey: I have been contacted by the State of New York AG office (inaudible)

Tonko: Thank you. It seems as though that reinforcement is important so we can go forward with every bit of truth exposed and information, not misinformation, to guide us through. So I thank you for that.

Comments

  1. antman says:

    Have you seen this comment at WUWT with more evidence of co-ordination: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/06/02/more-rico20-gmu-emails-released/#comment-2229354

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