Taking a Village to Pillage - Climate Litigation Watch

Taking a Village to Pillage

The Office of Minnesota’s AG Keith Ellison provides a remarkable example of the network behind the epidemic of climate litigation — “going after climate denialism with a bunch of state and local prosecutors nationwide,” as one academic put it in an infamous email, reminding us as well of the role of activist-donor funded law school ‘boiler room’ operations, deemed a “secret weapon” backing up the AG/donor/tort bar litigation complex.

Thanks to recent public records productions, we see the cast of characters revealed (so far) behind Ellison’s campaign to silence political opposition, finance politicians’ spending aspirations and distribute money to political constituencies all by suing energy companies:

  • Michael Bloomberg provides two attorneys to Ellison, who file the suit
  • One of these attorneys serves on a green-group board with a Michael Noble of another activist group, Fresh Energy; Noble boasts on a Zoom call posted to YouTube that the two Bloomberg-provided attorneys have “basically been working on this full time over the last few months on this” (how ever would someone on the outside know such a thing?)
  • Noble also boasts that
    • Climate Integrity…brought this concept to Fresh Energy in the Fall of 2018 and
    • Fresh Energy helped put this idea in front of Attorney General Keith Ellison shortly after he was sworn in” 
    • “We worked with the University of Minnesota’s Law School to assemble the legal theories behind this”
  • Noble sends Ellison a memo, nearly fifty pages in length, by UMN law professor Alexandra Klass, encouraging lawsuits against energy companies (and specifically suggesting inclusion of “a subsidiary of Koch Industries (Flint Hills Resources) [which] owns the Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota.”)
  • Noble’s group meets with the Bloomberg-provided attorneys and Ellison to brief Ellison on their plan on September 30, 2019
  • Noble’s group, Ellison, and California plaintiff’s tort firm Sher Edling appear with UMN professor Klass on a panel on October 15, 2019
  • Sher Edling provides media PR services, pitching internal OAG information to, e.g., MSNBC by at latest June 19, 2020, showing it clearly is on the team if several days before it enters a privileged relationship with OAG (six months before OAG moves to admit the firm to the case; firm ultimately gets a contingency fee contract in late September 2020 that, per Ellison’s math, could yield the firm a half billion dollars;
  • Ellison’s Bloomberg “Fellows” file suit against six entities focused on in UMN prof Klass’s memo, including “Koch Industries, Inc., Flint Hills Resources LP, Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend.”
  • Surrogates tweet out tweets provided them by Ellison’s Office

More lurks behind some of those names dropped, more on which later.