Civitas teams with fossil fuel industry to obstruct NC wind farm

Once a puppet, always a puppet:

In this project – the first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina and one of the first in the southeastern United States – the libertarian-leaning Civitas Institute has found perhaps the only industry that it thinks needs more regulation.

Civitas is backing a Perquimans County couple who has filed suit against the state Department of Environmental Quality, raising doubts about the farm’s impact on property values, the risk it might pose to creatures of the air and the noise it might produce. The call for more regulatory review is a way for Civitas to try to raise objections to the farm, even though it, and perhaps other farms, might prove a tremendous economic resource for a part of the state that needs one.

Don't make the mistake of assuming the faux-Libertarians who work for Art Pope really care about "prosperity" reaching more people, even those who desperately need it. That's just a slogan. In addition to Civitas' attorney, there's another guy on the legal team, and he's the climate-change-denying lawyer who went after the UVA professor's e-mails in an attempt to ruin him:

In 2011, then-ATI issued a FOIA request to the University of Virginia for emails sent by climate scientist Michael Mann during his tenure at that university. On May 25, 2011, an agreement was reached in which UVA agreed to release 9000 documents to ATI within 90 days.[citation needed]

But on November 2, 2011, a Virginia county circuit judge issued a procedural ruling[7] that was "a huge setback for ATI":

"The court allowed that there was reason for UVA to reopen the protective order before the court. The original protective order would have allowed ATI to review the emails themselves. That court order is now invalid. ATI will not see the exempt emails. ...Now, a neutral party will be able to see the emails, not ATI. The neutral party must be agreed upon by all parties...", Scott Mandia reported Michael Mann saying.[8], [9]

What had changed? University of Virginia court filings[10][11] had argued that ATI publicity and actions of ATI principals David W. Schnare and Christopher Horner - who were both the attorneys and the petitioners in this case - had raised questions about whether with these dual roles they could be trusted to abide by the previous ruling's requirement to keep the content of the exempt emails private.[12]

Bolding mine. Here's more on Schnare from Sue Sturgis:

The hearing on the American Tradition Institute's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the University of Virginia seeking Michael Mann's records is set for Tuesday, Nov. 1 before Judge Gaylord Finch in Prince William County Court. The hearing was postponed from September after Finch said he wanted to allow more time for arguments because of the case's significance.

"If it wasn't clear before, it should now be clear to everybody," David Schnare (photo at right), pro bono director of ATI's Environmental Law Center, said at the time. "This is an extremely important case, and we appreciate Judge Finch’s careful attention to detail as we proceed."

Critics say the case not only symbolizes the industry attack on climate science but is part of a growing trend of using public information requests to target academics for political reasons.

The American Tradition Institute is also using open records law to target another prominent and award-winning climate scientist: James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In January, ATI filed a federal FOIA request with NASA seeking information on how Hansen "has complied with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations, and NASA Rules of Behavior." An outspoken advocate for limiting greenhouse gas pollution, Hansen has long been a target of global-warming skeptics for his research and activism. ATI has sued NASA for withholding documents over concerns about Hansen's privacy rights.

In the upcoming hearing on the U.Va. case, Mann's attorney, Peter Fontaine (photo at left), told Facing South that he will argue his client should be permitted to intervene in the ATI lawsuit because of his personal interest in protecting his private email correspondence with other scientists -- what Fontaine calls the "raw materials of scholarship" that lead to finished science.

"If this information is disclosed and allowed to be cherry-picked, distorted and mischaracterized, it will result in a terrible chilling of the rights of scientists to exchange their ideas," said Fontaine, co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s energy and climate change programs and an EPA air pollution enforcer in the early 1990s. "It would be a blatant violation of my client's copyrights to his private emails, as well as his First Amendment rights and the right to academic freedom."

"This case is about FOIA, not Mike Mann," Schnare said. "If he had wanted to protect himself from embarrassing emails, he should not have pressed 'send' to begin with."

As I've mentioned before, it's doubtful Civitas and its other astro-turf lawyer will prevail in this lawsuit, but it's "very" possible the delays they generate will cause the backers of this wind farm to back out of the project.

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