A harrowing blog post at the Niskanen Center’s blog details the think tank throwing its hat in the ring with Leftist-controlled municipalities of Boulder and San Miguel Counties in Colorado to help destroy fossil fuel companies.
Fossil fuel companies are the targets of numerous municipal lawsuits alleging corporations, like Exxon-Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, intentionally hid research of their own scientists knowing that burning fossil fuels causes climate change. The Niskanen Center alleges:
In a paean to the virtues of common law relative to statutory law, an essay published in 2016 by the Cato Institute observes that the “imperative to please constituencies means that the information legislatures codify often comes from well-organized interests with substantial resources. Special-interest pleading is a hallmark of legislation and regulation. Judges in common law courts have fewer of the perverse incentives than [sic] legislators and regulators do.” In short, “the interests of legislators and regulators are likely to diverge from justice more often than the interests of judges.”
For these and other reasons, conservative and libertarian intellectuals who embrace what is known as “free market environmentalism” have long argued that pollution is a trespass on private property that is best dealt with whenever possible by common law action—not by legislators acting to referee such trespasses via sweeping environmental laws with (heavily politicized) utilitarian calculations in mind. By representing the interests of their constituents in this case, that’s exactly what these municipalities are trying to do.
The Niskanen Center is named after former Cato Institute Chairman Bill Niskanen who not only served in the Reagan Administration but was fired by the Ford Motor Company over his criticizing the auto maker of embracing trade protectionism. According to The Wall Street Journal, the organization’s founder, Jerry Taylor, named it after Niskanen because he was both principled and pragmatic.
It is the height of hypocrisy and a moral crime for a think tank named after a fine man, like Bill Niskanen, to join in on a lawsuit whose sole purpose is to loot and then destroy fossil fuel companies. Companies, like Shell and Chevron, provide a product consumers use and that simultaneously enhances our lives.
There is no proof any of the aforementioned companies had any prior knowledge of nor any intention of deceiving the public about the effects of fossil fuel use on the global climate.
The real reason why the litigation is being pursued is best summed up by Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Eric Goldstein told The New York Times after New York City’s suit was filed that municipal lawsuits against fossil fuel companies are a classic example of impact litigation that’s designed to upend the existing order. In other words, environmentalists hope the lawsuits will enable them to achieve their their goal of not only throwing hundreds of thousands of people out of work and finally shutting down the lights of the West for good.
The destruction of Western Civilization is what the Niskanen Center is endorsing with its jumping on this climate racketeering bandwagon. The group does dishonor to Bill Niskanen’s memory and have relegated themselves to being useful idiots for the environmentalist movement.