by William Teach | November 2, 2015 8:06 am
Back in the spring, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) brought out the idea to use the RICO statues to prosecute those who have climate wrongthink. Especially fossil fuels companies. Despite Whitehouse himself refusing to give up his own use of fossil fuels. Now he writes more on the subject in the Providence Journal
Sheldon Whitehouse: Fraudulent speech is not protected
The Founding Fathers built our judicial system to withstand the special interest pressures that beset the political branches of government. A case heard in court, before a neutral judge or jury, is subject to judicial tests like proof under oath and cross-examination (dubbed “the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth” by the Supreme Court), not just to political power.
The concerted program of climate change denial, funded largely by fossil fuel interests, should now face those tests. We know that the court process can work, even in the face of massive industry pressure, because our government brought and won a civil case against the tobacco industry for a similar campaign of denial of tobacco’s health effects.
The federal judge’s decision in the tobacco case declared that the “[d]efendants knew there was a consensus in the scientific community that smoking caused lung cancer and other diseases. Despite that fact, they publicly insisted that there was a scientific controversy and disputed scientific findings linking smoking and disease knowing their assertions were false.”
Reread those sentences, replacing the word “smoking” with the words “carbon pollution.” Replace the references to “health” and “disease” with “climate change” or “harm to our atmosphere and oceans.” Investigative reporting shows this is an accurate description of what the fossil fuel industry has been up to. For instance, researchers at Exxon warned top executives of the risks of carbon pollution as far back as the 1970s. Instead of addressing those facts honestly, Exxon chose to sow public doubt of the emerging scientific consensus, to prevent a drop-off in sales of oil.
This is blatantly a way to deny people their 1st Amendment Rights to Free Speech, by deeming anything the Cult of Climastrology and Sheldon Whitehouse deem “fraudulent”. This is the way it works in Fascist nations.
The results are already coming home to roost in Rhode Island. The tide gauge at Naval Station Newport shows around 10 inches of sea level rise since the Hurricane of 1938 battered our coast. The mean winter water temperature in Narragansett Bay is 3-4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than just 50 years ago.
First, neither would prove mostly/solely anthropogenic causation. Second, according to the actual data, the sea level trend for Newport, R.I. is rising at a whopping rate of 2.74mm per year, equal to a 0.9 inches of sea rise per century, well within the statistical norm for a Holocene warm period. Oh, and some of that is considered to be part of land changes post glacial period. Whitehouse attempts to paint that rise as apocalyptic, yet, it is much less than would be expected during a Holocene warm period.
There are solutions to this looming threat. Virtually every Republican willing to propose a solution to climate change supports a revenue-neutral carbon fee, where all the money raised goes straight back to the American people. This includes conservative economists, former Treasury secretaries, former Environmental Protection Agency administrators, and former members of Congress.
Democrats are willing to meet them there, and I have proposed legislation that will do just that. But industry, empowered by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment in Citizens United to spend unlimited amounts expressing its views in our elections, holds Republicans in Congress back.
How dare anyone use their Constitutional Free Speech to block an out-of-control central government from instituting draconian taxes and private sector controls!!!!
In the meantime, I believe history will reveal and condemn a massive disinformation campaign, funded by the fossil fuel industry, and propagated through a network of front organizations to obscure the hand of the industry. Some say that seeking a day in court on this question is suppression of free speech. But if this campaign is fraudulent, it does not deserve and it does not get protection under the First Amendment.
Protected free speech has boundaries, and one boundary is fraud. The test of whether the denial campaign amounts to fraud is the test established by the Founding Fathers: a case, in a neutral court of law, where the truth can be tested with evidence, under oath and by cross-examination.
And that right there is his plan: drag Skeptical companies, groups, and individuals into court, using the Power of the Federal Government, to prove that they aren’t engaged in fraud. This breaks another prime American Right, that of being innocent till proven guilty. He’s deeming Skeptics as guilty. Period.
Interestingly, Whitehouse has another op-ed complaining about carbon pollution from fossil fuels. Yet, his Twitter feed is chock full of tweets where he has certainly taken fossil fueled travel (boat, car, and plane). Does that mean he himself is engaged in fraud
Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.
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