Some advocacy groups see a wrinkle in using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to prosecute corporations that have allegedly misrepresented climate science in the past, according to private emails of climate scientists.
The emails were released Friday by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that is opposed to climate change regulation and frequently files lawsuits to seek the emails of climate scientists.
In a batch released Friday, some questioned the tactic advocated by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and others to sue fossil fuel companies for fraud.
“Deception/disinformation isn’t itself a basis for criminal prosecution under RICO,” wrote Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), in an email. “We don’t think that Sen. Whitehouse’s call gives enough of a basis for scientists to sign on to this as a solid approach at this point.”