Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced he will be working to bring forth lawsuits for “first-degree murder” against the big oil companies, accusing them of “knowingly killing people all over the world,” but a leading policy expert says this sort of legal action is nothing short of a “shakedown.”
Schwarzenegger revealed his intentions at the annual SXSW festival in Texas during an interview with Politico’s “Off Message” podcast.
“This is no different from the smoking issue. The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and [they] were hiding that fact from the people and denied it. Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that.
“The oil companies knew from 1959 on, they did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels, and on top of it that it would be risky for people’s lives, that it would kill,” said Schwarzenegger.
He says legal action is coming.
“We are now talking to law firms to go and do exactly the same thing as they’ve done in the tobacco industry, where we sue the oil companies for knowingly killing people all over the world. There’s 7-9 million people dying every year because of pollution because of fossil fuels,” Schwarzenegger said, adding: “I don’t think there’s any difference: If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it’s first-degree murder; I think it’s the same thing with the oil companies.”
Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Christopher C. Horner believes there’s not much sound logic behind this legal effort.
“I think he’s beginning with the seed of something he’s heard somewhere and then just flying off into nutty land,” Horner told WND and Radio America. “I know it’s very fashionable, including in the courts in California, to say things where he begins, but it doesn’t make it any more sane.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Christopher C. Horner:
Horner also took aim at the 7-9 million people who supposedly die from man-caused global warming each year. He has no idea where Schwarzenegger gets that number.
“That’s a lot, so I guess he could name 7-9 of them, right? But no, he can’t. They just sort of pull these things out of the ether. There are computer models to do everything this agenda requires, including computer model statistical deaths. They don’t have names or toe tags,” said Horner, who added that he does have the names of people who died because of energy poverty, which he asserts is the end result of the climate-change agenda.
“We do have names and toe tags, and I’ve got a whole PowerPoint presentation drawn from the English-speaking press about seniors who have died of hypothermia as these policies take root in the U.K.
“There are people who are dying from energy poverty, which comes when, as one man put it, this causes your electricity rates to ‘necessarily skyrocket,'” said Horner, quoting then-presidential candidate Barack Obama from 2008.
Horner said this sort of threatened legal action is really just a money grab.
“In essence, this is a shakedown,” he said. “In 2012, there was a meeting out in – surprise – California, in La Jolla, in which they produced a report. The report said if they could just get one sympathetic attorney general or district attorney to start subpoenaing these people’s documents to use against them, then we could wring this big settlement out of them.”
This is not conjecture, said Horner, who noted that the left openly admitted this strategy until it got called on it.
“The lawyer who started all this for all of these plaintiffs, named Matt Pawa, admitted to Nation magazine that they were tired of waiting for legislation, and so they were going to try to use the courts. He later denied to the Washington Times that he ever said that,” Horner said.
“We caught him, using Freedom of Information Act requests, working with state attorneys general to push this agenda because it was a failed agenda through the proper political process,” he said.
But while the total number of people dying from hazardous environmental conditions may not be quantifiable, many climate-change activists point to poor air quality in places like Los Angeles, Beijing and beyond.
But Horner said that’s a non sequitur.
“They’ll yell about catastrophic, man-made global warming and immediately shift to cancer and smog. That’s what you call changing the subject,” he said.
“I would change the subject, too. It’s not called catastrophic man-made global smogging. You’re talking about a pollutant and a pollution issue for which we have regulatory regimes. You want to reduce smog, go through the smog laws and regulations we have,” Horner said.
“But that wouldn’t really pay off, would it? That wouldn’t pay off the trial lawyers. That wouldn’t pay off your political constituencies through these tobacco-style settlements,” he added.
Horner said the climate-change agenda is still dangerous even though activists are not convincing the public or lawmakers to enact their policies.
“No one has ever spent this kind of money and not prevailed, except for the Soviets, as the global-warming industry,” he said. “And it does end up at a number called the bottom of every list. The environment is at the bottom, and this is at the bottom of environmental concerns.
“And let me tell you, thank you people like Gov. Schwarzenegger. One of the reasons catastrophic man-made global warming hysteria ranks last is because of this sort of moon-battery. Keep it up. If we didn’t have you, we’d have to invent you.”