November 23, 2016

November 23, 2016 | Commentary on

Heritage Helps Lead Fight Against Criminalization of Scientific Dissent on Climate Change

The Heritage Foundation is helping to lead the fight against the criminalization of scientific dissent on the unproven and questionable theory of man-induced, catastrophic climate change.

Heritage experts on energy and the environment—Daren Bakst, David Kreutzer, Diane Katz, Nick Loris, Jack Spencer, Katie Tubb, and Kevin Dayaratna —have provided comprehensive research on the credibility of this theory as well as the severe economic consequences of policy changes that have been recommended by climate activists.

Heritage analysts have also written numerous commentaries about this issue, and held public events, such as a June 10, 2016, presentation, “Climate Change—Criminalizing Scientific Dissent.”

In addition, Heritage has raised the alarm over the violation of First Amendment rights and the abuse of law enforcement powers by state officials in their attempts to chill speech and silence those who are dissenting from the politically correct, accepted “wisdom” on this issue.
For example, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has urged the federal and state governments to use their law enforcement powers to prosecute climate change deniers as “heretics.”

Whitehouse complained about The Heritage Foundation opposing these efforts and our critique that this is an abuse of power and a fundamental First Amendment violation.

In an editorial in the Columbia Journalism Review, Whitehouse grumbled about a series of commentaries Heritage experts published on this issue, ranging from the Washington Times to the The Daily Signal to the Providence Journal in his home state. Whitehouse implied that editorial pages ought not to publish op-eds from Heritage scholars.

Similarly, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has led a group of more than a dozen state attorneys general who announced at a press conference in March that they intended to go after climate change deniers. They even attacked ExxonMobil, under their state versions of the federal RICO law, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

This is the federal law passed in 1970 to target organized crime and drug cartels. Heritage has criticized Schneiderman and the other state attorneys general in this coalition in a series of stories for The Daily Signal, highlighting their misuse of these laws and their abuse of their law enforcement powers for political purposes.

Schneiderman recently complained in Politico about Heritage’s critiques of him, saying the Foundation was part of a “dark money empire” that was publishing columns and editorials attacking him.

A new Heritage legal memorandum, released on Oct. 24, 2016, outlines in detail what is being done by these state attorneys general and climate change activists, and explains why this is wrong from a constitutional perspective as well as a matter of public policy.

Heritage will continue its intensive work in this area to protect the First Amendment; to prevent politics from poisoning scientific discovery, research, and debate; and to highlight the dangerous abuse of government power for political and ideological purposes.

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