Exxon Dealt Big Blow as Texas Judge Kicks Climate Lawsuit to New York Court
"The decision is a major blow to Exxon's efforts to distract from the valid investigations into whether the company lied to the public and its investors about the dangers of global warming," Jamie Henn, 350.org strategic communications director, said.
"Instead of coming up with more bogus legal maneuvers, Exxon should comply with the Attorneys General requests, including handing over Tillerson's secret 'Wayne Tracker' emails."
In an effort to distract from the Attorneys General investigation into if the company lied to its shareholders and the public about its knowledge of global warming, ExxonMobil had filed a complaint asserting that the investigation against it was a politically motivated conspiracy designed to "silence" it.
Despite his obvious sympathy to the oil giant, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade was forced to admit in a decision this afternoon that Exxon's complaints against the Attorneys General should be transferred out of Texas to the Southern District of New York because "a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred" in New York City.
As part of its complaint, ExxonMobil had issued a subpoena to 350.org in December in an attempt to gain access to the organization's emails. 350.org promptly filed a motion to quash the subpoena and issued a statement asserting our First Amendment rights to speak out and advocate for the public interest. That motion is currently pending in the Southern District.
Wednesday's decision is a blow for Exxon, who had obviously hoped to fight the Attorneys General on their home turf in Texas rather than comply with the investigation. The announcement comes just days after the embarrassing revelation that while CEO of the company Rex Tillerson used a secret email alias "Wayne Tracker" to discuss climate change and other sensitive issues.
Judge to #Exxon: Explain Where Those Wayne Tracker Emails Went https://t.co/4fcLiyaNbG @greenpeaceusa @NRDC @SierraClub @Greenpeace— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1490278751.0
"The public deserves the truth about what Exxon Knew," Henn said. "The company is arguing we want to silence them, but it's just the opposite: We want them to speak clearly and honestly about their track record of climate denial so we can get to work solving the problem. Instead of continuing to follow the Big Tobacco playbook of deceit and deception, Exxon should come clean and own up to the damage it's caused."
350.org will keep up pressure on ExxonMobil to comply with the existing investigations, as well as advocate for more Attorneys General to launch their own inquiries into what Exxon knew.
"With Rex Tillerson now guiding our international climate policy as Secretary of State, this case is more important than ever," Henn continued. "If Tillerson used a secret email to discuss Exxon's climate coverup, that would turn out to be an absolute bombshell. We could be on the verge of seeing an acting Secretary of State getting pulled into a fraud investigation. And this isn't just any old fraud: Exxon's crimes are on a planetary scale."
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
By Jewel Fraser
Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.