The Blog

Arizona Court Approves CSLDF Amicus Brief – And E&E Legal Simultaneously Files Opposition

November 10, 2015

CSLDF is pleased to announce that the Arizona Court of Appeals has granted its motion to participate as amicus curiae, or “friend of the court.”  Last month, CSLDF filed an amicus brief urging the Arizona Court of Appeals to protect climate scientists’ files from invasive open records requests by E&E Legal.  As described in our brief, E&E Legal’s requests are “part of a broader strategy of attacking individual scientists as a way to try to discredit theories or even entire fields of study.”  (Please read more about our amicus brief here.)

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) also filed their own amicus brief, which was also accepted by the Court of Appeals.  The Court’s order is available here.

There is no provision under Arizona appellate rules for opposing an amicus brief.  Nonetheless, on the very same day that the Court entered its approval, both amicus briefs were simultaneously opposed by E&E Legal.  In their own brief, E&E Legal claims that CSLDF’s “vituperative proposed brief has one purpose, to cast a negative light on Appellant’s motive for making a Public Records Act information request, and argues that such motives are somehow important to the resolution of the case.”  Notwithstanding the Court’s own order to the contrary, E&E Legal then argues that “the Court is without authority to allow CSLDF to file as amicus curiae.” (more…)

CSLDF Files Legal Brief Supporting Protection of Climate Scientists Against Harassment

October 27, 2015

Yesterday, CSLDF filed a brief as amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” urging the Arizona Court of Appeals to protect climate scientists’ files from invasive open records requests.  CSLDF filed its brief in support of the Arizona Board of Regents, which has defended the records of two University of Arizona climate scientists from massive and harassing open records requests by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal).

E&E Legal, as detailed further in our brief (available here), touts its mission as “free-market environmentalism through strategic litigation” and a key part of its strategy has been repeatedly misusing open records laws to go after huge swaths of climate scientists’ records.  Its work has been described as “filing nuisance suits to disrupt important academic research”[1] as part of an aim to convince “the public to believe human-caused global warming is a scientific fraud.”[2]

In this case, E&E Legal claims that Arizona state open records laws entitle it to virtually unfettered access to two U of A professors’ files, and it has sought an astonishing 13 years of emails and other documents from both Dr. Malcolm Hughes and Dr. Jonathan Overpeck – 26 years of records in total.  E&E Legal claims it needs these records because it is conducting a “transparency project,” and it has argued that these two researchers were somehow part of a “scientific-technological elite” that has “successfully corrupted public policy” with respect to “climate alarmism.”[3] (more…)

Climate Scientist Threatened with Investigation by Member of Congress for Purported “Partisan Political Activity”

October 10, 2015

A climate scientist who was the lead signatory on a letter to President Obama, supporting a proposed inquiry of some corporate opponents to action on climate change, has himself been threatened with a Congressional investigation by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).  Rep. Smith – chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology – claims that by sending the letter, scientist Dr. Jagadish Shukla engaged in inappropriate “partisan political activity.”

Rep. Smith has criticized the idea of man-made climate change, and once suggested that climate scientists colluded “to hide contradictory temperature data.”[1]  More recently, he characterized an official national climate report requested by Congress and produced by university scientists, federal agencies and private sector researchers, as a “political document.”[2]  The House Science Committee he heads has also introduced “massive cuts” to federally-funded climate science research.[3]  To our knowledge, this is the first time Rep. Smith has used his position as chair of the House Science Committee to target specific climate researchers.


Litigation Seeking Climate Scientists’ Emails in Name of “Transparency” Has Been Secretly Funded by Coal Industry

September 10, 2015

In March 2015, an Arizona trial court validated the University of Arizona’s denial of massive records requests by Energy & Environment Legal (“E&E Legal”), which sought 13 years of climate scientists’ emails under Arizona open records laws.[1]  E&E Legal, formerly named the American Tradition Institute, has “a core mission of discrediting climate science and dismantling environmental regulations,”[2] and while it claimed it wanted these emails for its “transparency project,”[3] it also openly admitted it was seeking things it could use to embarrass researchers.[4]  The scientific community applauded the court’s ruling,[5] but E&E Legal was less pleased and it recently appealed the decision.

In its appeal, E&E Legal claims that the trial court misinterpreted Arizona’s open records laws, which balance duties of government transparency with protections deemed in “the best interests of the state.”[6]  In particular, E&E Legal claims that the trial court erred by giving deference to the University’s determination, and the court improperly considered whether the University had “abuse[d] its discretion or act[ed] arbitrarily or capriciously” in withholding the emails.[7]  Instead, E&E Legal claims, the trial court should have considered both sides’ arguments equally and analyzed them de novo.[8]  E&E Legal has asked for a remand to the trial court for reanalysis or, in the alternative, a new analysis by the appellate court.[9]

E&E Legal is “a free-market think tank that wants the public to believe human-caused global warming is a scientific fraud,”[10] and its tactics include “filing nuisance suits to disrupt important academic research.”[11]  The group also “has connections with the Koch brothers, Art Pope and other conservative donors seeking to expand their political influence.”[12] (more…)

New Legal Attacks on Climate Science Community: Climate Blogger Sued for $2 Million for “Interference” and “Conspiracy”

May 20, 2015

In the newest variation of legal attacks on climate science, tandem lawsuits were filed against climate science blogger and computer scientist John Mashey, in retaliation for his work to uncover academic misconduct by several researchers who disputed widely-accepted findings on global warming.  (There is a 97% scientific consensus that man-made climate change is happening.)  Two of these researchers, Edward Wegman and Yasmin Said, served Mashey with complaints this spring, claiming that Mashey’s work connecting them with plagiarism, falsifications, errors, and funding misuse constituted “tortious interference with contract” and “conspiracy” — and claiming that because of this, he owed them millions of dollars in damages.

Wegman and Said were among the authors of the 2006 “Wegman Report,” which has since been discredited by Mashey and many others, and which was originally commissioned by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) as part of a Congressional investigation of climate scientists.  Subsequent work by Wegman and Said, based on the Wegman Report, was later retracted for plagiarism and the investigations themselves were criticized as “political intimidation.” (more…)

Livestream – Fighting Back Against Attacks on Climate Scientists

April 30, 2015

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund is hosting talks on the legal attacks faced by climate scientists, on Thursday, May 7th, from 6-7:30 pm at Columbia Law School.  Such attacks include harassing open records requests, bad-faith investigations, and attempts to chill research publication.  This lecture will kick off CSLDF’s litigation strategy series at Columbia Law School, and 1.5 CLE credits will be available for attending attorneys.  RSVP required. (more…)