In his final attempt to torpedo Pennsylvania’s Mariner East II Pipeline, now-former Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan filed criminal charges last month against security contractors hired to secure pipeline construction sites. Sadly, the accusations are merely another publicity stunt in the DA’s crusade to upend the permitted project rather than an honest effort to serve the public. Pennsylvanians deserve better than this kind of gamesmanship that puts political agendas ahead of residents’ welfare.
The charges accuse several security personnel employed by Mariner East of paying state constables to provide security for the pipeline during construction. The constables’ authority, Mr. Hogan alleges, was used as a “weapon” to “intimidate citizens.” But the facts of the situation tell a different story—one that when coupled with the DA’s record of claims against the Mariner East point a finger back at Mr. Hogan for politicizing his public office.
It’s not uncommon for businesses of all industries to employ private security. That’s especially true for energy developers and operators, who regularly hire personnel to not only protect their investments, but also to ensure individuals are not inadvertently injured by equipment or ongoing construction around infrastructure sites.
Long before the Mariner East developers contracted the security personnel now under scrutiny, they consulted local law enforcement about the possibility of using state constables. Those authorities raised no concerns. And it’s hard to imagine why they would.
Pipelines have become targets for environmental extremists, and reports of sabotage and other criminal activities against energy infrastructure have grown in recent years. In fact, one disgruntled Central Pennsylvania landowner even lured bears to pipeline work sites, set fires near equipment, and harassed workers in an unlawful attempt to halt the pipeline. Another group admitted to sabotaging equipment in Southeast Pennsylvania. It’s a sad reality that pipeline operators often need extra security to prevent senseless attacks, and based on past criminal activity, it’s necessary for the Mariner East builders to take additional precautions.
It’s also important to understand the function of Pennsylvania’s constables. Like a sheriff, a constable is an elected or appointed position in the executive branch of government. Primarily, they serve at the direction of the courts to issue summons and warrants and the like, but they are fully empowered to enforce both criminal and civil laws.
Unlike most law enforcement officials, constables do not receive a set salary. They are compensated by assignment at rates established by state law. As public peace officers, constables are employed by a third party—never directly, as a security guard would be. In that way, Mariner East’s situation is not unusual: The developer hired a private contractor to secure the construction sites. The contractor then enlisted the support of state constables.
John-Walter Weiser and Philip Intrieri, the president and the solicitor of the Commonwealth Constable Association, respectively, recently called out the absurdity of the Chester County DA’s claims. “It is frankly offensive to accuse a constable of ‘selling his badge,’ when he is only operating under a fee-driven system he did not create, and which is intended to save our tax dollars,” Weiser and Intrieri wrote last month. “Filing felony charges of law when that law is unclear is a grievous abuse of power.”
It’s impossible to reconcile the precautions taken to add extra security around the Mariner East Pipeline with the charges now being leveled. Instead, the evidence points to a pattern of abuse of public office to wage an ideological campaign against midstream energy infrastructure. Mr. Hogan has criticized Mariner East of environmental crimes and has promised that other charges are “coming down the line.” In his statement announcing the most recent allegations, Mr. Hogan goes so far as to accuse Governor Wolf of being “asleep at the wheel.” All this was said and done as Mr. Hogan was leaving office.
The DA’s attacks against the Mariner East Pipeline seem to peel back the true motives behind these latest charges—which are to derail energy infrastructure deployment in Pennsylvania. But these accusations are too serious for residents to accept as politics as usual. As Hogan’s successor Deborah Ryan takes office, it is critical that Pennsylvanians are afforded an open debate about the Commonwealth’s energy security—not policy by litigation that, apparently, will readily sacrifice those who find themselves on the wrong side of the agenda of those in power.
Radical environmentalists are mounting a two-pronged attack on free markets and human enterprise. The first is “nature rights,” which would allow anyone to sue to stop any significant use of the land or extraction of resources as violating “nature’s” supposed “right” to “exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.” Think of “nature rights” as a “shield” against large scale enterprise.
Lesser known, but even more potentially dangerous to human thriving, is the “ecocide” movement. Ecocide would criminalize enterprise that extracts natural resources or makes widespread use of the land, as a “crime against peace,” deemed an equivalent evil to genocide and ethnic cleansing. Think of “ecocide” as a “spear” that punishes large scale enterprise.
Here’s the general definition of ecocide:
Ecocide is the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.
Note that “peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants” is a very broad term, intended to include everything from grass, fish, and insects to mice, snakes, and people. And diminishment of “peaceful enjoyment” would not require actual pollution, but could mean a declining supply of forage or a loss of foliage caused by almost any use of the land, perhaps even simple urban or suburban growth.
Advocacy for ecocide has now gone mainstream, making the august pages of the New York Times. Using the fires in the Amazon as pretext, the Times’ Brazil bureau chief Ernesto Londoño, pushes the idea that Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, should be hauled before The Hague to stand trial for ecocide. From the analysis piece:
There is no international crime today that can be used to neatly hold world leaders or corporate chief executives criminally responsible in peacetime for ecological catastrophes that result in the type of mass displacements and population wipeouts more commonly associated with war crimes. But environmentalists say the world should treat ecocide as a crime against humanity — like genocide — now that the imminent and long-term threats posed by a warming planet are coming into sharper focus.
In Mr. Bolsonaro they have come to see something of an ideal villain tailor-made for a legal test case.
It is worth noting that there are no voices in Londoño’s piece critical of ecocide advocacy.
It is my understanding that the Amazon fires do not mostly involve old growth forest, but rather, lands that have already been converted to farming. Whether that is true or not, should a duly elected president of a sovereign nation be hauled before the Hague and face criminal charges because environmentalists disagree with his country’s environmental and development policies legally enacted by that president or country?
If so, China’s leader Xi Jinping had better watch his back. I mean, have you ever breathed the air in Beijing?
Oh, Wesley, who are you kidding? Communists aren’t about to be targeted by radical environmentalists.
Besides, ecocide isn’t about punishing potential environmental catastrophes such as the Amazon fires. That is just a pretext. The actual goal is thwarting enterprise and opposing capitalism.
Want evidence? Ecocide campaigners’ chief villains heretofore have been corporate CEOs, whose supposed crimes have been to extract oil from Alberta’s tar sands. Indeed, in a mock trial held in the chambers of the English Supreme Court, hypothetical corporate tar sand CEOs were imprisoned for extracting oil from the fields.
Further demonstrating the real game this is afoot, Londoño foresees President Trump as a splendid candidate for ecocide imprisonment because he has thwarted mainstream environmentalist policies:
Mr. Bolsonaro is by no means the only world leader reviled by environmentalists. President Trump has been assailed for rolling back environmental regulations and pulling out of the Paris climate accord.
See what I mean about the Amazon fires being a pretext?
Radical environmentalists intend to thwart human thriving in order to “save the planet.” As “nature rights” advances — four rivers have now been granted human-type rights — look for campaigners to push hard to make “ecocide” an international crime. If they succeed, the world will face a substantially less prosperous future.
CNN this week published a huge story saying the source of the migrant caravan wasn’t so much corrupt Central American governments, violence or lousy economic policies. It was climate change. This is just the latest attempt by environmentalists to blame any and all bad news — even acne and animal bites — on climate change.
The CNN story, complete with pictures, videos and charts, claims that climate change is responsible for the drought in parts of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua that forced thousands to flee for the U.S.
Well, not “responsible,” exactly. The author admits part way through that “Studies have not definitively tied this particular drought to climate change.” Continue reading
By Associated Press • New York Post
California will begin regulating greenhouse-gas emissions tied to dairy cows and landfills under legislation signed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown, escalating state efforts to fight climate change beyond carbon-based gases to include methane and other pollutants.
The law targets a category of gases known as short-lived climate pollutants, which have an outsize effect on global warming despite their relatively short life in the atmosphere. Environmentalists hope that tackling short-lived pollutants now would buy time to develop new and more affordable technology to reduce carbon emissions.
California has stoked a global reputation for its attempts to slow climate change through a combination of strict mandates against pollution and financial incentives for green technology. Continue reading
Setback for coalition of Dem AGs seeking racketeering charges
The attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands withdrew his subpoena of oil giant Exxon Mobil on Wednesday afternoon, dealing the first setback to a group of Democratic officials seeking racketeering charges against the company.
Exxon told a federal court that AG Claude Walker had agreed to walk away if the company would drop a related lawsuit alleging that the subpoena violated its constitutional rights and the laws of its home state of Texas.
Walker was the third state attorney general, after New York and Massachusetts, to subpoena Exxon Mobil over allegations that it committed fraud and racketeering by misleading customers and shareholders about the risks of climate change.
Walker is the first to walk back the effort against Exxon, but he is also in litigation in Washington, D.C., over a separate subpoena sent to a libertarian nonprofit that received donations from Exxon more than a decade ago.
Both subpoenas have triggered legal action. In a federal lawsuit filed three weeks after it was subpoenaed, Exxon alleged that Walker’s subpoena violated its “rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Texas Constitution, and Texas common law.”
District Judge Ed Kinkeane ordered Exxon and Walker to meet no later than July 11 to discuss “the possibilities for a prompt resolution of the case.” Exxon’s filing notified the court that they’d reached an agreement to withdraw both the subpoena and the resulting lawsuit.
Walker had asked for a massive number of internal Exxon documents, including documents pertaining to its internal deliberations and projections about climate change, but also requested communications with nearly a hundred nonprofit groups.
They included conservative and libertarian advocacy groups, but also more mundane organizations such as the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the Arizona State University office of climatology, and Africa Fighting Malaria.
New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey asked for communications with many of the same research and advocacy groups, including the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Cato Institute.
Schneiderman is the leader of a group of 20 state attorneys general that have seized on reports from news organizations funded by environmentalist groups that allege that Exxon misled the public about the risks its product poses.
Exxon and other critics say it is an unconstitutional effort to use state governments’ legal authority to shut down political speech and advocacy with which the attorneys general disagree.
The attorneys general, all Democrats, have been planning the legal campaign for more than a year. When a Schneiderman aide emailed a questionnaire to other attorneys general involved in the effort, Walker said he was “eager to hear what other attorneys general are doing and find concrete ways to work together on litigation to increase our leverage.”
Though Walker has withdrawn his Exxon subpoena, he also subpoenaed the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian group that used to receive Exxon funding, seeking evidence in its investigation into the company.
Walker has dropped his effort to enforce that subpoena in D.C., where CEI is based, but has not actually withdrawn it. The group is now alleging that the effort violated a DC law against lawsuits designed to censor, harass, or intimidate a public critic. A federal judge heard arguments on that motion on Tuesday.
The larger campaign was orchestrated behind the scenes with leaders of prominent environmental groups and deep-pocketed foundations that fund them and the news organizations whose reporting ostensibly spurred the investigation.
According to internal documents detailing the effort, its goals are to “delegitimize [ExxonMobil] as a political actor,” “force officials to disassociate themselves from Exxon,” “drive divestment from Exxon,” and “to drive Exxon & climate into center of 2016 election.”
Democratic lawmakers have also pressed the Justice Department to bring civil racketeering charges against Exxon over the same allegations. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said that she referred the case to the FBI, which is deciding whether to prosecute.
by Thomas Richard • Examiner
The number of excuses for the global warming pause or hiatus had grown to more than 66 when the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) added yet another one to the list in a just-published study in Science. In their argument that came out yesterday, NOAA said that long-existing instrument bases have masked rising sea surface temperatures. Once they “readjusted” the data, the warming hiatus disappeared. By cooling the past, they were able to make the most recent years even warmer.
This assessment has drawn heavy criticism from both sides of the bitter climate debate, but one thing no one disputes: NOAA may have overstepped its authority in rewriting climate history and relying on faulty data sets. By making the early 1900s colder, and using only land-based temperature stations and less-reliable ocean temperatures, NOAA can now readjust the past to chart a new future.
This new study also comes at a time when President Obama has shifted his focus to climate change, not to mention the EPA’s proposed plans to completely revamp the country’s power plant system through new regulations. Continue reading
By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley • Climate Depot
The Paris agreement is more dangerous than it appears. Though the secession clause that this column has argued for was inserted into the second draft and remained in the final text, the zombies who have replaced the diplomatic negotiators of almost 200 nations did not – as they should have done in a rational world – insert a sunset clause that would bring the entire costly and pointless process to an end once the observed rate of warming fell far enough below the IPCC’s original predictions in 1990.
It is those first predictions that matter, for they formed the official basis for the climate scam – the biggest transfer of wealth in human history from the poor to the rich, from the little guy to the big guy, from the governed to those who profit by governing them.
Let us hope that the next President of the United States insists on a sunset clause. I propose that if 20 years without global warming occur, the IPCC, the UNFCCC and all their works should be swept into the dustbin of history, and the prosecutors should be brought in. We are already at 18 years 8 months, and counting. The el Niño has shortened the Pause, and will continue to do so for the next few months, but the discrepancy between prediction and reality remains very wide. Continue reading
by David French • National Review
The rapture was supposed to happen on September 13, 1988. A few fringe pastors were screaming that the end was nigh, that the righteous would soon disappear into the air while the rest of humanity was doomed to suffer a quite literal hell on earth. Forget the biblical admonition that no man knows the day nor hour of Christ’s return, these men had figured it out. It was time to prepare yourself.
I was a sophomore at a Christian college in Nashville, and it was the talk of the campus. No one likes to make fun of crazy Christian preachers more than irreverent Christian college students, and we couldn’t stop dividing the student body between the saved and the damned.
When the alarm clock rang the morning after the scheduled rapture, I hit snooze, and said, triumphantly, to my roommate, “We’re still here!” There was no response. “Hello?” Still no response. I looked down at his bed, and no one was there. For about nine seconds I was gripped by sheer panic. I’d been left behind. The lake of fire awaits! Then my roommate walked in from the shower, and the crisis passed. Continue reading
Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, proudly announced this year that 90 percent of the nearly 1 million comments on the agency’s new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule were in favor.
“The input helped us understand the genuine concerns and interests of a wide range of stakeholders and think through options to address them,” McCarthy wrote at the time.
What she did not mention, naturally, is that agency staff had worked with environmental activists to manipulate the comments process to skew the result.
Using the Thunderclap social media app, EPA officials worked with activist leaders to spread the word to 1.8 million of their fellow travelers. The resulting social media bomb encouraged them to click through and write comments on the rule. As a result, the comment box was overwhelmed with support for the EPA’s position. Continue reading
Climate alarmists want government to silence skeptics
By Paul Driessen • Washington Times
What irony. The latest attack on fellow scientists was launched by academics from a university named for the patriot who wrote the original Virginia version of our Bill of Rights. Those rights include freedom of speech and assembly, the right to petition our government, and protection from unreasonable search and seizure of our property.
Sadly, it reflects the appalling state of “academic freedom” on too many campuses, which today celebrate every kind of diversity except diversity of opinion.
Jagadish Shukla, four associates at his George Mason University-based Institute of Global Environment and Society, and 15 other climate researchers have signed an outrageous letter, asking President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate “organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change.” Continue reading
by John Merline • Investor’s Business Daily
President Obama once praised it as a shining example of America’s clean energy future. “With projects like this one,” he said at the site of a solar plant just before construction started, “we’re putting Americans to work producing clean, home-grown American energy.”
And his Department of Energy showered $1.6 billion in loan guarantees, as well as $600 million in tax credits.
The plant is the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, a behemoth that uses hundreds of thousands of mirrors spread out over more than five square miles of the Mojave Desert. The mirrors all aim at the tops of three 459-foot towers, where the heat boils water in tanks held there, which generates steam to turn the electricity-producing turbines. Continue reading
By Ian Tuttle • National Review
Unable to address Texas senator Ted Cruz’s questions about “the Pause” — the apparent global-warming standstill, now almost 19 years long — at Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Sierra Club president Aaron Mair, after an uncomfortable pause of his own, appealed to authority: “Ninety-seven percent of scientists concur and agree that there is global warming and anthropogenic impact,” he stated multiple times.
The relevant exchange begins at 1:39 (though the whole segment is worth watching):
by John Hinderacker • Powerline
We have often written about the fact that the world’s governments pour billions of dollars annually into the global warming project, the object of which is to increase the powers of government. And yet governments, the main parties that stand to benefit from the warmists’ campaign, pretend that their money is somehow innocent, while any private entity that supports climate research is suspect.
Alarmist scientists have gone so far as to urge the Obama administration to prosecute criminally scientists who disagree with them. The premise for this proposed RICO investigation was that “corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters”–i.e., scientists who don’t buy the global warming hype–are deceiving the public for financial gain. This despicable effort, which we wrote about here, is led by Jagadish Shukla of George Mason University and several of his colleagues. Continue reading
by Ian Tuttle • National Review
With that in mind, meet Jagadish Shukla, professor of climate dynamics at George Mason University. On September 1, Dr. Shukla and 19 other climate scientists sent a letter to President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and White House Office of Science and Technology policy director John Holdren calling for “a RICO investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change,” a (criminally irresponsible) tactic initially proposed by Rhode Island senator Sheldon Whitehouse in a Washington Post op-ed in May. The letter could be found on the website of the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES) — the “non-profit, tax-exempt research institute” founded and headed by Dr. Shukla. Continue reading
Lowering ozone—from cars, trucks, factories and power plants—in the name of an imaginary health benefit.
by Tony Cox • Wall Street Journal
This fall the Environmental Protection Agency plans to take its next grand regulatory step, following the announcement of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan over the summer. The agency is likely to introduce stringent new standards for ground-level ozone, arguing that a lower allowable level of ozone—an important component of smog—will reduce asthma in the U.S., among other claimed health benefits. Yet the EPA ignores decades of data and studies, some under the agency’s auspices, that reveal no detectable causal relation between past reductions in ozone and better public health, including reductions in asthma cases.
The new regulation may be the most expensive ever for the U.S. economy—even worse than the Clean Power Plan’s effect on coal-fired power plants. Some studies, such as one published in August by National Economic Research Associates, estimate implementation costs of hundreds of billions of dollars a year in the short run, and trillions of dollars over the next two decades, as well as millions of lost jobs. Why would it be so costly? Because attacking ozone involves almost every facet of the economy—as the EPA notes, “automobiles, trucks, buses, factories, power plants” and “consumer products” all contribute to ground-level ozone. Continue reading