Senators seek to end prosecutorial pursuit of climate skeptics

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WASHINGTON – Five Republican senators have asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to “immediately cease” using law enforcement resources to go after those who disagree with President Barack Obama on the causes of global warming.

“These actions provide disturbing confirmation that government officials at all levels are threatening to wield the sword of law enforcement to silence debate on climate change,” Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, David Perdue of Georgia and David Vitter of Louisiana wrote to Lynch.

“As you well know, initiating criminal prosecution for a private entity’s opinions on climate change is a blatant violation of the First Amendment and an abuse of power that rises to the level of prosecutorial misconduct,” the senators wrote.

The letter comes after Lynch told a Senate committee in March the Justice Department had internal discussions about investigating global warming skeptics based on letters sent by Democratic lawmakers in 2015.

“This matter has been discussed,” Lynch said. “We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on.”

State attorneys general are way ahead of Lynch, and have launched investigations into ExxonMobil for allegedly covering up global warming science while funding skeptic groups. A group of mostly Democratic AGs held a meeting with environmentalists in March, where some pledged to investigate Exxon and its allies.

“Financial damages alone may be insufficient,” New York AG Eric Schneiderman at the event in New York City. “The First Amendment does not give you the right to commit fraud.”

Schneiderman was the first state AG to launch an investigation into Exxon’s global warming stance. He was quickly followed, however, by lead prosecutors in California, Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

So far, only U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker has demanded information from conservative think tanks and scientists skeptical of man-made global warming. Walker also subpoenaed the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a D.C.-based libertarian think tank.

Walker eventually withdrew his CEI subpoena after the group fought back, but Republican lawmakers are worried what could happen if federal investigators start going after those critical of Obama’s energy agenda.

“Using such prosecution to issue intrusive demands targeting individuals who represent the parts of civil society that are the most dependent on free inquiry and debate is something categorically different,” Republicans wrote to Lynch.

The DOJ has not yet announced any investigation into Exxon or any groups skeptical of global warming.

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