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Op-ed Placement

The Exxon Shakedown Over Climate Change

Originally Published in The Washington Times on 7/10/16.

Liberal attorneys general from 17 states have put a big red bullseye on the chest of big oil. Their bizarre claim is that for years energy companies fraudulently covered up their knowledge that greenhouse gases from fossil fuels cause catastrophic climate change. The most recent chapter of this witch hunt is a remarkable subpoena filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, which would require ExxonMobil to turn over 40 years of internal company documents. It also demands that ExxonMobil produce all its internal communication with conservative leaning think tanks.

This is nothing more than an old-fashioned, political mob shakedown of a deep-pocketed industry for money. The AGs are hoping for a repeat of the multi-billion dollar tobacco company settlement in the 1990s. The big and obvious difference here is that tobacco companies sell a product that is dangerous to one’s health. The oil and gas companies sell energy that makes all modern industrial life possible.

Worse, they want to use the steel-heeled boot of government to get energy companies to stop giving money to free market institutions that the left doesn’t agree with. But they are permitted to donate to the Sierra Club, the Wildlife Federation and the Center for American Progress. The goal is to silence any opposition on the right to the climate change industrial complex. The way to create a scientific consensus on an issue is to muzzle anyone who dares disagree with the scientific consensus. If these science police had been around several hundred years ago, we’d all be forced to believe that the earth is flat.

To enforce the global warming consensus, the AGs want more than money — they want to figuratively hang the oil and gas company CEOs in effigy in the public square. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman hinted that he’d like to see criminal prosecution and jail time for the energy company executives, saying “Financial damages alone may be insufficientThe First Amendment does not give you the right to commit fraud.”

The end game here could hardly be more sinister. The AGs are following the example set by the Obama administration and the EPA to bleed and “bankrupt” oil and gas producers in America as they are doing now to the domestic coal industry.