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Climate Hawk’s Stunning Fall From Grace Emboldens Climate Skeptics

E&E News

Eric Schneiderman’s political foes are gleeful about — and feeling emboldened by — his demise.

Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) (right) at a 2016 press conference with former Vice President Al Gore and other state attorneys general. New York attorney general

Ex-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) was at the vanguard of the climate movement, heading legal and political fights against Trump administration attempts to weaken environmental regulations.

Schneiderman is also a pugnacious and media-savvy figure whose abrupt and stunning political fall this week after cringe-worthy sexual abuse allegations is an undeniable blow to climate hawks across the country. It may force them to reshuffle their tactics and, to a lesser extent, their priorities.

But as shocked, saddened and disgusted as climate activists are about Schneiderman, they are convinced that reinforcements are readily available and that the movement to defend environmental laws from legal and legislative attacks remains strong, even in the absence of a fallen leader.

“It should not have a significant impact,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D), another top environmentalist. “He was a leader, he was very energetic, and the New York attorney general’s office was fully engaged and I expect that that will continue. … Other [Democratic] AGs are also working these issues. If there’s any slack at all, one of us will pick it up — or all of us will collectively.”

Despite those fighting words, Schneiderman’s political foes are gleeful about — and feeling emboldened by — his demise.

In a statement yesterday, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who is chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, called Schneiderman “a disturbed monster” and a “sick man,” and suggested he ought to be prosecuted, or at least “held accountable,” for his alleged acts of violence against former girlfriends.

“A lot of climate skeptics are smiling at his downfall because he was an out-of-control, really wacky guy who held a lot of power,” said Marc Morano, who runs the blog Climate Depot.

Morano and his allies have been especially disdainful of the legal attempts Schneiderman led to hold Exxon Mobil Corp. and other oil companies accountable for global warming, calling him “the ultimate shakedown artist.”

“Let’s take a moment to pause and take a look at the strategy of blaming energy companies for bad weather,” Morano said. He added that Schneiderman’s resignation and quick disappearance from the public scene will force climate activists to reconsider their approach.

“He was the lightning rod,” he said. “He was the instigator. It definitely limits the movement when you take out the lead guy.”

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