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Nocera on Cuomo's climate change subpoenas

Freshly liberated from the Times Select dungeon, NYT business columnist Joseph Nocera is truly scathing about New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's "misleading and disingenuous", "grandstanding" recent legal action on global warming:

A few days earlier, Mr. Cuomo sent subpoenas � that�s right: subpoenas! � to five companies who have the temerity to want to build coal-fired electric generating plants....He added, �We are concerned that Peabody Energy has failed to disclose material information about the increased climate risks Peabody Energy�s business faces.�

In other words, Mr. Cuomo was going a good deal further than Ceres [an activist group that is petitioning the SEC to require increased shareholder disclosure on these matters]. He was claiming that under current S.E.C. rules, companies already had a duty to disclose �climate change risk� � at least as those risks are defined by the New York attorney general�s office.

(Never mind that none of the companies in Mr. Cuomo�s sights are based in New York. As his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, proved, when you�re the attorney general of New York State you can pretty much investigate anything you want, anywhere in the United States, so long as you can make it appear to be somehow related to investor protection.)

Such steps, Nocera writes, are "an attempt to use regulation and litigation to force companies to toe the environmentist party line on global warming, and to change corporate business models in ways that are more pleasing to the environmental community. It�s environmental tyranny disguised as public policy."

It gets even better:

Of course, at least part of the risk facing Peabody Energy is the risk of being sued by environmentalists � who will use Mr. Cuomo�s �evidence� [extracted by subpoenas] to do just that. It�s lovely the way this works, isn�t it? You investigate them for not disclosing risk, even as you�re creating the risk through your investigation.

Read the whole thing.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.