- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

An overwhelming majority of voters oppose government efforts to investigate and prosecute scientists and others, including major corporations, who question global warming.

A Rasmussen Reports survey released Tuesday found that 69 percent of likely U.S. voters are opposed to such investigations, while only 15 percent approve of them. Another 16 percent are undecided.

The poll comes amid investigations by Democratic state attorneys general into whether ExxonMobil committed “fraud” by underplaying the extent and impact of global warming. Subpoenas issued in Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands as part of the probe have also named universities, academics and think tanks.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has come under pressure from Democratic lawmakers and climate groups to pursue racketeering charges against fossil-fuel companies and others challenging the catastrophic climate-change narrative.

The findings released Tuesday are nearly identical to those released in November 2015 following news of New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s investigation into ExxonMobil.

Only 25 percent of voters in Tuesday’s survey said they believe the debate on global warming is settled, contrary to the claims of Democratic lawmakers, while 61 percent said the debate is not over.

Mr. Schneiderman leads a coalition of 17 attorneys general — 16 Democrats and one Independent — called AGs United for Clean Power aimed at pursuing those who downplay the impact rising carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere for possible “fraud.”

Even so, only 21 percent of Democratic voters said in the survey they favor the government investigating and prosecuting climate-change skeptics.

Just 26 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Democrats agree that the debate about global warming is “over,” as opposed to 19 percent of unaffiliated voters.

Critics of AGs United for Clean Power, including Republican attorneys general and lawmakers, have blasted the effort as an abuse of prosecutorial authority and a violation of free-speech rights, while Mr. Schneiderman has argued that fraud is not protected by the First Amendment.

Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E. Walker has dropped his subpoenas of ExxonMobil and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank based in Washington, D.C.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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