Press Release: AZ Superior Court Again Sides With E&E Legal in Suit Over Long-Withheld University of Arizona ‘Climategate’ Related E-mails

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AZ Superior Court Again Sides With E&E Legal in Suit Over Long-Withheld University of Arizona ‘Climategate’ Related E-mails
Washington, D.C. – Late last week Arizona Superior Court Justice James Marner granted the Energy & Environment Legal Institute’s (E&E Legal’s) motion requesting release of ‘Climategate’ related emails withheld for years by the University of Arizona (UofA).  The Court’s ruling followed on the Arizona Board of Regents’ (AzBOR’s) unsuccessful appeal of a similar ruling by the same Court on June 14, 2016 ordering release of the emails in question.

In his ruling, Judge Marner stated, “The comment in the June 14, 2016 ruling regarding the creation of an academic privilege through legislation seems to have caused much confusion to the point that the Court of Appeals concluded this Court somehow remained ignorant of an argument raised in Defendant AzBOR’s answer and amended answer, subsequent pleadings and in at least two amicus briefs. With this ruling, the Court hopes to reassure the Court of Appeals and the parties that all arguments made at the trial level were considered and all relevant law applied.”

The original public records request and the subsequent suit by E&E Legal made necessary by the U of A’s refusal to release the records relating to what the London Telegraph’s Christopher Booker called “the worst scientific scandal of our generation.”  Specifically, the documents are emails relating to the notorious global warming “Hockey Stick”, and the group that made it famous, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Following E&E Legal’s public records request to UofA, the University acknowledged resistance from the professors involved — both of whom, E&E Legal pointed out to the court, were improperly allowed to decide what emails were responsive to the request, and which ones they would allow the University to produce. U of A ultimately produced several hundred responsive emails.

Accompanying this production was an instructive 213-page roadmap of several hundred emails the academics insisted could not be released, involving either the “Hockey Stick” or IPCC. Unfortunately the indexes were also deliberately  scarce on details, though they do lay out correspondence between the Hockey Stick and IPCC authors (also identifying, e.g., emails about Professor and IPCC coordinating lead author Jonathan Overpeck’s work at the University for the environmentalist pressure group Union of Concerned Scientists, and emails to and from Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia, home to ClimateGate).

E&E Legal’s initial complaint explained how these emails, produced using taxpayer resources, involve two academics with: “…a history of using University (public) resources — including to send and receive the emails at issue in this case — for work-related participation in related organizations including the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”), which was the subject of many of the most controversial emails produced, sent, received and/or held on publicly funded computer assets in the ‘Climategate’ leaks.”

Through the Climategate leaks, and releases under various freedom of information laws, the public has learned of troubling practices by a network of publicly funded academics involving, among other things, questionable use of statistics, organized efforts to subvert transparency laws in the United States and United Kingdom, campaigns to keep dissenting work from publication, recruiting journalists to target opponents and retaliation against scientists and editors involved in publishing dissenting work.

Closely following a model pioneered by Greenpeace seeking emails and other records of University of Virginia climate science faculty, E&E legal has been requesting and obtaining information held by publicly funded agencies and universities related to the important public policy issue of alleged catastrophic man-made global warming, and related policy demands.

“This month marks the six anniversary of when E&E Legal filed our first public records request with the University of Arizona, and as the Court notes, much of what we’re seeking has already been shared with parties outside of the U of A’s ‘privileged’ circles,” said Craig E. Richardson, E&E Legal President.  “It’s clear that U of A is fearful of embarrassment the release of these e-mails would cause, as the discovery of other Climategate emails did; however this doesn’t alleviate the University’s responsibility to release them as the Court has now twice ruled.”

About E&E Legal

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.

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