The attorney general of the state of New York filed a lawsuit this week claiming Exxon Mobil misled investors about the dangers of man-made climate change, but one industry expert argues that this is merely an attempt to make energy the new tobacco.
Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D-N.Y.) claims that Exxon courted investors – such as the state's public pension funds – with inaccurate information. It should be noted that New York's lawsuit comes just months after the Securities and Exchange Commission dropped an investigation of its own.
United States District Judge William Alsup – a Bill Clinton appointee – also dismissed lawsuits this year brought by San Francisco and Oakland against big oil companies including, Exxon Mobil.
Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) delved further into the issue:
"I have to sympathize with the statement made by the Exxon Mobil spokesman, which was to point out something we've been principally responsible for revealing to the public and that is, their quote was, ‘These baseless allegations are the product of closed-door lobbying by specialist interests, political opportunism and the attorney general's inability to admit that its three-year investigation has covered no wrongdoing,’" Horner pointed out.
He went on to say that climate change activists are trying to make energy the next tobacco.
"It's a fairly broad statement, but the thrust of that was this is the product of lobbying by plaintiffs' attorneys who very helpfully laid out a roadmap, including a cry for help for a single sympathetic attorney general to begin subpoenaing private entities' records so the plaintiffs' attorneys with their donors and green group activists that they were advising could make energy the next tobacco and obtain something larger than the settlement that was obtained in the tobacco litigation because energy, of course, plays a much larger role in our economy," Horner explained.
To put it in perspective, Horner calls this an absolute abuse of law enforcement powers.
"There are several dangerous precedents that – if this goes forward and succeeds – we'll see," Horner assured.
The Independent Women's Forum (IWF) agrees with Horner, calling these cases "nuisance lawsuits."
Writing about Judge William Alsup's decision in July, attorney and IWF Senior Fellow Jennifer Braceras stated that issues such as climate change are simply too complex to be addressed by the courts in an adversary system, and she maintained that courts must defer to the other co-equal branches of government to solve them.