We have reached a point in the climate conversation where it’s almost impossible to say something too outrageous. The outrageous keeps happening. But let me try. An Attorney General from the impoverished U.S. Virgin Islands is trying to nail fossil fuel companies by grabbing documents from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Nah, too crazy, right? An Attorney General faced with a huge backlog of criminal cases going after climate skeptics?
Maybe the leaders of the CEI will end up in a U.S. Virgin Island prison, where those accused can wait seven years for a trial. Nah, too crazy, right? We couldn’t end up in this place just because we oppose the activists and NGOs who spend their days exaggerating about climate change. Could we?
When Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli tried to get documents from Michael Mann, I wrote an open letter to him comparing it to a witch hunt and advising him to get advice from his colleagues in Salem on the advisability of his actions.(Not often I get to link to myself in the New York Times… couldn’t resist.)
When Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva called for investigations of 7 scientists who dispute the consensus view (as promulgated by NGOs and other hysterics), I wrote, “This is a witch hunt. Representative Grijalva, call off your dogs. You make me ashamed of my political party.”
When Republican Congressman Lamar Smith issued a subpoena for emails and records from NOAA scientists participating in Thomas Karl’s rather desperate attempt to prove the ‘pause’ in global warming never existed, I wrote “What Representative Smith is doing is both wrong and stupid. Wrong, because we don’t need to create a climate of fear in science. Scientists should be able to communicate via email without re-reading every word they write with an eye on future investigations. Stupid, because witch hunts don’t increase your stature, reputation, amount of information or even the size of your… big toe.”
When hardball climate activists from both parties signed an open letter calling for RICO investigations of climate skeptics and fossil fuel companies I wrote “I oppose these political prosecutions on principle–they are abhorrent to believers of the rule of law and representative democracy. I also oppose them on grounds of efficacy–these prosecutions will delay the finding of appropriate answers to the important question of what we should do about climate change. These prosecutions are wrong. They are worse than wrong, they are stupid. They are worse than wrong and stupid–they are unnecessary mistakes.”
Now, says the Wall Street Journal, “The Competitive Enterprise Institute on Thursday said Thursday it received a subpoena from U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E. Walker giving the group less than a month to turn over public and private records of its communications with Exxon concerning climate change. The subpoena, which was reviewed by Law Blog, covers a 10-year period ending in 2007.”
I guess you can guess my reaction. I’m a staunch Democrat who firmly believes that we need to act to limit the future damages that may be caused by climate change. Like each of the preceding incidents, I am convinced that this action by Walker is stupid, wrong and ultimately injurious both to the cause of fighting climate change and even more so to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
The Attorney General of the Virgin Islands joined 17 other Attorneys General in their search for as yet undefined climate crimes. Why is the AG of the US Virgin Islands the one to file this subpoena? Why not one of the larger states?
According to Wikipedia, “Until February 2012, the Hovensa plant located on St. Croix was one of the world’s largest petroleum refineries and contributed about 20% of the territory’s GDP. It has since been largely shut down and is now operating as no more than an oil storage facility, provoking a local economic crisis.” In fact, “The per capita income for the territory was $13,139. About 28.7% of families and 32.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.7% of those less than 18 years old and 29.8% of those 65 or more years old.”
So there might be a political motive for Walker’s move against CEI. Closing the plant caused considerable economic distress–now they need to demonize fossil fuel to explain why being poor is okay in a good cause–as long as it doesn’t extend to Attorney General Walker, whose executive assistant makes $56,000…
“Crime in the Virgin Islands statistically speaking is fairly high, particularly on St. Croix and St. Thomas. Crimes on St. Thomas and St. Croix fall into similar categories for the most part; domestic abuse and domestic violence including child molestation. These incidences often happen where victim and perpetrator know each other. Murder is also high; again this crime is often among persons who have knowledge of each other, often within the illegal drug business and taking place in known areas with drug problems.”
The Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Kenneth Mapp, said recently ““We have prisoners sitting in Golden Grove, some for as high as seven years waiting for trial — five years, three years — some of these persons are charged with aggravated assault, destruction of property, burglaries,” he said. “Yes, there are one or two that have been charged with murder. But at the end of the day, housing a detainee at the cost of $150 a day at the Bureau of Corrections and waiting as long as seven years and seven months for trial is totally unacceptable.”
That would be the job of Attorney General Claude Walker. Pity he’s busy with other things.