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Climategate: So Who Sues Whom?



An exchange between Hugh Hewitt -- an attorney and law professor -- and columnist Mark Steyn on Hugh's radio program, Thanksgiving eve:

HH: Is it fair to say, Mark Steyn, that everything that the tobacco companies were ever accused of doing with data about cigarettes is now true about the CRU and its global warming data?

MS: Yeah, that's absolutely, that is actually a good way to put it. I mean, I think this idea...they've corrupted the very essence of science. They've corrupted peer review, they've had editors from journals fired who disagree with them, they've corrupted the data. They basically are the antithesis of science. They decide the result, and then figure out how you need to set up the computer model to get the result. This is disgraceful.

CRU is the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, whose researchers and correspondents have been shown by disclosed e-mails and computer programs to have manipulated and politicized research. If the tobacco company analogy is apt, then state attorneys general must already be planning their joint legal strategies.

No? Still, the revelations of debased science have far-reaching implications for all sorts of climate-related litigation. Consider the public nuisance suit by eight states against utilities that generate electricity from coal, Connecticut v. American Electric Power. In its opinion that the states could sue, the Second Circuit noted the litigation was based on "reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to support the States' claims of a causal link between heightened greenhouse gas concentrations and global warming." (Page 7)

Yes, and IPCC as well as the Environmental Protection Agency relied on the now beleaguered Climatic Research Unit. In a widely cited and excellent report, "Congress May Probe Leaked Global Warming E-Mails," at a CBS News blog, Declan McCullough writes:

The leaked documents (see our previous coverage) come from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in eastern England. In global warming circles, the CRU wields outsize influence: it claims the world's largest temperature data set, and its work and mathematical models were incorporated into the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report. That report, in turn, is what the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged it "relies on most heavily" when concluding that carbon dioxide emissions endanger public health and should be regulated.

The EPA connection takes us to Kim Strassel's "Potomac Watch" column today in The Wall Street Journal, "'Cap and Trade Is Dead'," those being the words of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), commenting on the debased science, its legislative implications and the possibility of an EPA "endangerment" finding.

Mr. Inhofe goes so far as to suggest that the agency might not now issue the finding. "The president knows how punitive this will be; he's never wanted to do it through [the EPA] because that's all on him." The EPA was already out on a legal limb with its finding, and Mr. Inhofe argues that if it does go ahead, the CRU disclosure guarantees court limbo. "The way the far left used to stop us is to file lawsuits and stall and stall. We'll do the same thing."

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.