Climate activists and lawyers have released an over 1,000-page legal compendium that provides a cynical playbook for eliminating fossil fuels – threatening thousands of jobs, energy security, and the economy. In a bold move of hypocrisy, they now seek to mirror groups they criticize by working behind closed doors to organize activist attorneys and distribute pre-written laws to state legislators across the country.
The list of contributing authors reads like a who’s who of the #ExxonKnew campaign and provides additional evidence of the coordinated effort to take down energy companies across the United States.
The report is spearheaded by activist lawyers with an appetite for climate lawsuits.
The report’s lead author is Michael Gerrard, the founder and director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. Gerrard has written extensively about climate change and environmental law and is a strong supporter of the #ExxonKnew campaign, speaking out in support of the New York Attorney General’s lawsuit against ExxonMobil. Additionally, he’s worked behind the scenes to support investigative action against the company. In 2018 the Sabin Center filed an amicus brief in New York City’s appeal of the district court decision to dismiss the city’s climate change lawsuit against fossil fuel companies. His colleague Michael Burger is also amongst the contributors. Burger has also been outspoken in support of the climate change litigation, often speaking in support for the NY AG’s lawsuit.
If their clear bias against industry isn’t enough to raise eyebrows about the compendium, Gerrard and Burger are joined by a list of authors deeply involved in the Rockefeller-funded campaign against energy companies
Durwood Zaelke is the founder of both the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD) and formerly directed the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now EarthJustice). IGSD runs a project called the Center for Climate Integrity that “supports meritorious climate cases aimed at holding fossil fuel companies and other climate polluters liable for the damages they have caused.” This support includes a signed amicus brief in support of six California municipalities suing fossil fuel companies for climate change as well as a PR campaign that is pressuring other cities like Houston and Miami to file lawsuits of their own.
IGSD’s current Director of Research and its former staff attorney, Stephen Oliver Anderson and Nathan Borgford-Parnell respectively, also contributed to the compendium.
IGSD isn’t the only report contributor who wrote an amicus brief attacking energy companies. Wendy B. Jacobs, of Harvard’s Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, filed an amicus brief on behalf of five former Massachusetts attorneys general supporting current Attorney General Maura Healey’s investigation into ExxonMobil.
Unsurprisingly, the Rockefellers are funding the report’s authors.
Peter H. Lehner and Kit Kennedy are both former members of the Environmental Protection Bureau of the New York State Attorney General, which is currently pursuing a case against ExxonMobil. Now, they work as directors for two Rockefeller-funded activist organizations. The Rockefellers have funded nearly every aspect of the #ExxonKnew campaign. Lehner is a director at the Rockefeller-funded Earthjustice and formerly served as the Executive Director for the Rockefeller-funded Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Kennedy is the Senior Director for NRDC’s Climate and Clean Energy Program and on the board of the Rockefeller-funded New York League of Conservation Voters. Larry Rockefeller is the co-founder and former vice chair of the New York League of Conservation Voters and is a Trustee of the NRDC.
James H. Williams joins his former NRDC colleagues as a contributing author to the reporter. While he currently works for the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, he spearheaded the Risky Business Project’s report From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy. The Risky Business Project is co-chaired by anti-fossil fuel activist billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer and receives funding from Steyer’s TomKat Foundation via the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
The report even includes recommendations from an organization that has sued ExxonMobil
David Ismay is the Clean Energy and Climate Change staff attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) in Massachusetts. The Rockefeller-funded organization sued ExxonMobil for “decades long climate deceit” in 2016, and Shell in 2018, doubling down on its “fight to hold large polluters accountable.” Unsurprisingly, CLF was also party to the secret 2016 strategy meeting at Rockefeller headquarters and currently has at least three former employees in Massachusetts Attorney General Healey’s office.
CLF’s controversial approach to energy issues was also on display last year, when it defended the importation of Russian natural gas into New England. CLF has been a fierce opponent of new natural gas pipeline capacity in the region.
As policy makers across the country grapple with common sense solutions, this group of activist attorneys who are deeply imbedded in the broader campaign to take down American energy companies, have now banded together to infiltrate statehouse across the country; behind closed doors, activist attorneys will hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their activist agenda.