State Of Vermont v. ExxonMobil Corp. et al.

The U.S. House Oversight Committee wasn’t the only major governmental entity to bring up ye oldevictory will be achieved” leaked memo set within the last few weeks as a “smoking gun” piece of evidence to indict the fossil fuel industry of conspiring with skeptic climate scientists to spread disinformation undercutting the certainty of catastrophic man-caused global warming. Just two days before that Committee sent out its September 16th intimidation letters to energy company officials, which prominently quoted the “victory” memos, Vermont’s Attorney General Thomas Donovan Jr filed his Vermont v. ExxonMobil lawsuit on September 14th, which featured that memo set’s notorious phrase on page 28.

AG Donovan’s same day press release succinctly summarized his lawsuit:

The lawsuit alleges past and ongoing violations of Vermont’s Consumer Protection Act for concealing crucial information and disseminating misleading statements and advertising about fossil fuels and climate change …

Vermont consumers were given false and misleading information about the dramatic effects of these products on the climate. Vermonters have a right to accurate information in order to make informed decisions about the products they purchase.”

The gift AG Donovan hands on a silver platter to the energy companies is how those last two bits could be turned 180° away from the fossil fuel industry and aimed instead at the enviro-activist global warming industry, emphasizing how AG Donovan apparently didn’t undertake elemental due diligence on whether his cornerstone evidence had any validity, and emphasizing how the mainstream media’s abject failure to ask tough questions about the origins of that ‘evidence’ and the core clique of people surrounding it has ultimately led to AG Donovan possibly relying on that core clique for the “smoking gun evidence” in his lawsuit.

The House Oversight Committee, to their minimal (but questionable) credit, at least supported their quoting of the worthless-because-they-were-never-implemented “victory will be achieved” memo set by providing a footnote citation to an Inside Climate News PDF file copy of that set. Who does ICN cite for the source of that set? Click on the link for their words “a plan” in their Feb 2015 article, and you are sent to a DocumentCloud file which which is clearly attributed to a particular member of Greenpeace. (Greenpeace claimed the “victory” memos were leaked to them …. before they said the memos were leaked to somebody else. But that’s a whole other complicated story.)

Who does Vermont AG Donovan cite for his source on the “victory will be achieved” memo set? Who knows? This lawsuit’s complete list of citation footnotes ended on page 3, where all were citing IPCC reports. That’s it. No more citation sources are seen in the remaining 65 pages.

Give minimal (but questionable) credit to AG Donovan for at least placing footnotes in his lawsuit to something. In my October 24, 2020 dissection of the ‘independently led’ Connecticut v Exxon lawsuit, which also relies only the “victory” memo set as its main smoking gun evidence, I told how that one contains no footnote citations whatsoever …. which of course doesn’t provide answers to anybody but instead leads to tough questions about why other similar lawsuits rely on just one source for that worthless memo set.

As I noted in my dissection of District of Columbia v. ExxonMobil, it also contains zero footnotes, and also relies solely on the “victory” memo set. This latest Vermont v. Exxon shares something else with DC v. Exxon, namely many eerily similar words in a paragraph about the fossil fuel industry “bankrolling scientists.” Compare DC on top to Vermont underneath, via downloaded PDF file versions that can be color-highlighted to show identical and similar wording:

I had initially classified DC v. Exxon as ‘independently led,’ but noted in my dissection of it that I was concerned about the appearance of the Sher Edling law firm on its pg 82. I later reclassified it as a “Sher Edling assistance” lawsuit when that law firm openly acknowledged their association with it. What is shared in Sher Edling’s Delaware v. BP lawsuit, as I noted in my dissection of that one, and in San Mateo v. Exxon, and their other lawsuits, which also feature both the “victory” and “reposition global warming” memos? Many eerily similar words in a paragraph about the fossil fuel industry “bankrolling scientists.”

Simple questions here: why didn’t Vermont AG Thomas Donovan Jr think the worthless-because-they-were-never-implemented “reposition global warming” memos were good enough to use in his lawsuit for the accusation that fossil fuel executives colluded with skeptic climate scientists to spread disinformation, considering so many other lawsuits elsewhere do? And how long will it be before I have to reclassify his ‘independently led’ lawsuit as one having Sher Edling assistance?

Meanwhile, there’s a fun irony with this latest lawsuit with regard to how it’s wise to have more than one set of leaked memos to expose the sinister ways of the fossil fuel industry. The situation arises out of the way that the more often these fatally flawed lawsuits are filed, the harder it is for their supporters to keep track of them all. On the same day of its September 14th filing, the Associated Press hastily reported – citing the Center for Climate Integrity – that it was the seventh lawsuit filed by a U.S. State. Oopsy, make that the sixth. Apparently, the Center for Climate Integrity, which likely included DC v Exxon in their initial count might have been counting their DC statehood chickens before they were hatched. Who is the Center for Climate Integrity associated with? They direct the Pay Up Climate Polluters group. What does Pay Up Climate Polluters say are smoking guns (plural) evidence of industry-led disinformation campaigns? Both the “victory” memo set and the “reposition” global warming set.

Sixth or seventh lawsuit, or the 25th, the growing number of these lawsuits doesn’t provide a ‘preponderance of evidence that fossil fuel industry campaigns employing skeptic scientist ‘shills’ exist, they only point to the growing problem of why they don’t have any better evidence to back up that accusation than one or two sets of never-implemented ‘leaked industry memos.’