- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2016

The Alabama and Texas attorneys general called Monday for a state court to end a climate-change investigation into ExxonMobil, describing the Virgin Islands probe as an abuse of prosecutorial power driven by ideology.

The brief filed in Texas state court comes in support of ExxonMobil’s effort to quash a subpoena issued in March by Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E. Walker, a vigorous critic of the fossil-fuel industry.

“This case is about abusing the power of the subpoena to force Exxon to turn over many decades’ worth of records, so an attorney general with an agenda can pore over them in hopes of finding something incriminating,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement.

He submitted the brief with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange in District Court in Tarrant, Texas.

“It’s a fishing expedition of the worst kind, and represents an effort to punish Exxon for daring to hold an opinion on climate change that differs from that of radical environmentalists,” Mr. Paxton said.

The Republican attorneys general argued that the Virgin Islands investigation represents a violation of Exxon’s free-speech right to challenge those insisting that rising carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere are driving global warming and natural disasters such as hurricanes.

“The First Amendment ensures that all people are free to hold opinions and promote them in public debate. This action by the Virgin Islands‘ AG could effectively set a precedent that anyone can be criminally investigated because of their stated opinions,” Mr. Paxton said.

ExxonMobil, which employs thousands in Texas, faces high court costs if the investigation goes forward,” he added.

Also named in the brief is the law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, which is assisting Mr. Walker in the investigation. The subpoena arrived in a Cohen Milstein envelope, according to the brief filed Monday.

ExxonMobil, the world’s largest energy company, is based in New Jersey but its principal offices are in Texas.

Mr. Walker’s subpoena of ExxonMobil says the company is suspected of having violated Virgin Islands anti-racketeering laws by “misrepresenting its knowledge” about the impact of oil-and-gas emissions on climate change in order to “defraud” the Virgin Islands government and consumers.

The subpoena is dated March 29, the same day Mr. Walker, an independent, and 16 Democratic attorneys general announced the formation of a coalition to pursue fossil-fuel corporations and others for fraud stemming from their disagreement with the climate-change catastrophe narrative.

At least four attorneys general have reportedly launched their own investigations into Exxon, including New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Mr. Walker has made no secret of his opposition to the oil-and-gas industry, saying at the March 29 press conference in New York City that “we have to rely on renewable energy. That’s the only solution.”

“And it’s troubling that as the polar caps melt, you have companies that are looking at that as an opportunity to go and drill. To go and get more oil. Why? How selfish can you be? Your product is destroying this Earth,” Mr. Walker said at the event, which featured former Vice President Al Gore.

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