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Luther Strange
Alabama Attorney General www.ago.alabama.gov

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Mike Lewis (334) 353-2199
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 June 16, 2016

ATTORNEY GENERAL STRANGE LEADS DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER TO FELLOW ATTORNEYS GENERAL OPPOSING USE OF SUBPOENAS TO ENFORCE THEIR CLIMATE AGENDA VIEWS

(MONTGOMERY) – Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange led a 13-state Dear Colleague letter urging the nation’s Attorneys General to resist using their subpoena powers to target energy industries for their views in the heated climate change debate. 

“State Attorneys General should not abuse subpoena power to silence speech or side with one industry against a competitor under investigation,” said Attorney General Strange.  “Yet we have seen this very approach used by a group of Attorneys General in an apparent effort to advance a climate change agenda.  This is a chilling abuse of power that must be stopped.”

“Several state Attorneys General recently held a press conference under the banner of ‘AGs United for Clean Power,’” the multi-state Dear Colleague letter said.  “The media event highlighted an investigation into ‘whether fossil fuel companies misled investors and the public on the impact of climate change on their businesses.’ We think this effort by our colleagues to police the global warming debate through the power of the subpoena is a grave mistake.”

“We are concerned that our colleagues’ investigation undermines the trust the people have invested in Attorneys General to investigate fraud.  Investigatory subpoenas were issued to at least one company and one non-profit believed to have made statements minimizing the risks of climate change.  At the press conference, one of our colleagues noted that ‘[w]e are pursuing this as we would any other fraud matter.’  We routinely investigate fraud and have done so with many of the states present at the press conference.  But this investigation is far from routine.  We are unaware of any fraud case combining the following three characteristics: 1) the investigation targets a particular type of market participant; 2) the Attorneys General identify themselves with the competitors of their investigative targets; and 3) the investigation implicates an ongoing policy debate.”

The letter also questioned how one company’s minimizing climate change risk is fraud and yet another company’s exaggeration of climate change impact is not.

“First, this fraud investigation targets only ‘fossil fuel companies’ and only statements minimizing climate change risks.  If it is possible to minimize the risks of climate change, then the same goes for exaggeration.  If minimization is fraud, exaggeration is fraud.”

Attorney General Strange was joined by fellow Attorneys General from Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin in the Dear Colleague letter.

A copy of the Dear Colleague letter is attached

 

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