Lynch: Sure, we've "discussed" taking legal action against climate deniers

This election will include yet another public referendum on the topics of climate change, global warming, greenhouse gases and all the rest. With that in mind, we should probably prepare for a healthy, spirited debate of the subject. But if you happen to be somewhat skeptical of the science being offered by the anthropogenic global warming crowd, you may want to watch what you say. The Justice Department is listening and they may be considering legal action against all of you heretics. Jon Street reports from the scene of yesterday’s meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

During Lynch’s testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said that he believes there are similarities between the tobacco industry denying scientific studies showing the dangers of using tobacco and companies within the fossil fuel industry denying studies allegedly showing the threat of carbon emissions…

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)… concluded his comments by posing a question to the country’s top law enforcement officer.

“My question to you is, other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?” he asked.

“This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on,” Lynch answered. “I’m not aware of a civil referral at this time.”

As analogies go, this is weak tea to say the least. During the heyday of the tobacco industry there was absolutely a conscious effort among major manufacturers to ignore or even refute medical data which they themselves had researched in the interest of maintaining sales. The data in question would take many more decades to be fully fleshed out, but even in the beginning the findings were fairly obvious even to the casual observer. The situation with energy companies in the current era is entirely different. There are so many conflicts in and questions regarding the data which has been presented that it bears a great deal of additional scrutiny at a minimum.

Further, the federal government is probably the last place you’d want to start such an inquiry, to say nothing of bringing charges against people. Lynch’s colleague over that EPA, Gina McCarthy, has recently admitted that they don’t even understand how the oil and gas industry works, particularly when it comes to emissions. And even if you accept the assumptions offered as to what particular emissions do to global temperatures the government’s proposed remedies seem highly unscientific. For one example, when actual scientists get a chance to look at the data, they conclude that the current methane rules under discussion would only (possibly) reduce temperatures by .0004 degrees C by 2100.

But don’t let a little thing like science stop you. If you can start taking people to court for questioning your policies, that’s just about as American of an ideal as could be imagined.