EXCLUSIVE: Here’s An Inside Look At How Climate Crusaders Are Kickstarting A Campaign That Is Getting Hollywood’s Attention

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EXCLUSIVE: Here’s An Inside Look At How Climate Crusaders Are Kickstarting A Campaign That Is Getting Hollywood’s Attention

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Chris White Tech Reporter

December 05, 2019 10:02 PM ET

  • An environmental attorney with a history of crusading against oil companies is kickstarting a campaign targeting major chemical companies, according to a watchdog group.
  • A Hollywood filmmaker who produced a big-budget film criticizing chemical producers is also associated with an ongoing crusade targeting companies that activists believe are poisoning people.
  • One legal analyst suggested the lawyers who are targeting chemical companies are likely stoking “hysteria” that causes “anxiety among the population.”

One of the attorneys who is targeting oil companies over climate change is doing the same against chemical manufacturers as activists start another crusade, according to memos a watchdog group obtained.

Environmental lawyer Matt Pawa contacted the Connecticut’s attorney general’s office in August about suing major chemical companies for supposedly using toxic chemicals on their products, emails Energy Policy Advocates obtained show. Pawa was one of the chief attorneys who actively recruited public officials to sue ExxonMobil and other oil companies.

The watchdog group gave the Daily Caller News Foundation exclusive access to the email memos.

Pawa told Connecticut Assistant Attorney General Matthew Levine in an Aug. 22 email that he filed a similar lawsuit targeting major chemical companies on behalf of Vermont’s attorney general’s office. Vermont, for its part, reportedly sued in 2018 to conceal aspects of a 2016 fundraiser that was reportedly orchestrated to discuss how states might engage in climate lawsuits, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“We would, of course, be honored to represent Connecticut in PFAS litigation and stand ready to help if AG [Attorney General William] Tong decides to proceed with outside counsel,” Pawa wrote, according to the memo. He was referring to a group of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that are used to produce many household items.

Pawa declined to comment for this story and directed the DCNF to an unrelated link when asked about his role in recruiting Connecticut’s attorney general’s office.

Researchers Are Torn Over PFAS’s Ill Effects

The Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal in November requiring plants to track and report how much of the chemical they release. The agency will also announce guidance for how to clean up the chemicals as well as update what amount of PFAS is considered safe in the country’s drinking water.

Researchers are conflicted about the long-term side effects resulting from prolonged exposure to PFAS. There is no evidence showing perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) or PFAS, which belong to the same family of chemicals, exposure causes cancer in humans, according to a study by Ellen Chang, an epidemiologist and scientist at California-based consulting firm Exponent.

PFAS are called forever chemicals because they do not biodegrade and are fixtures in modern American society.

Still, states are coming out in full force against companies that use the substance.

State law enforcers in Ohio, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Michigan, for instance, deputized law firms to pursue litigation targeting companies like DuPont and 3M, among other massive chemical producers. Such lawsuits are often bonanzas for attorneys as they are based on an arrangement that requires attorneys to be paid out of a plaintiffs’ winnings.

DuPont and Chemours coughed up $671 million in 2017 to settle more than 3,500 lawsuits related to PFAS waste. Neither company admitted fault.

How Are Regulators Reacting To Supposed PFAS Contamination?

Legal analysts said politicians and regulators are reacting to fear-mongering. (RELATED: West Virginia Lawmakers Call Out ‘Incredible Hulk’ Actor For Portraying Them As ‘Toothless Hillbillies’ In Flick)

“They react to fear in the community and sometimes those concerns can be very legitimate — what happened in Flint [Michigan] never should have happened there,” Alston & Bird attorney Jeffrey Dintzer, who works on environmental tort cases, told reporters in June. There’s been a lot of fear-mongering on the topic, he noted.

Dintzer added: “A lot of times there’s a tremendous amount of hysteria stoked by plaintiffs firms, and it’s unnecessary and it causes a substantial amount of anxiety among the population.” Pawa, who reportedly counseled attorneys general on how to pursue cases against big oil, is not the only environmental attorney who is involved in targeting DuPont and others.

Ridgewood Water in New Jersey hired California-based law firm Sher Edling in March to sue chemical manufacturers. New York also solicited the California-based firm’s help in 2017 to hold 3M accountable to recover the costs required to treat public drinking water and to eliminate supposed contamination from the company’s chemicals.

Law Firms Are Fighting Over Who Sues What Industry

Pawa and Vic Sher, who was with Sher Edling at the time, have a long history together. They got into a multi-million-dollar legal dispute in 2014 stemming from a lawsuit they worked on against ExxonMobil. Sher, who was with Sher Leff at the time, said Pawa’s group, Pawa Law Group, failed to distribute money from a settlement in the case. Pawa, in turn, argued in a lawsuit that Sher was the one cheating him out of millions of dollars, court documents show.

Sher eventually paid Pawa about $6 million for the retributions, court documents show. The disagreement stems from a lawsuit New Hampshire filed in 2013 alleging Exxon negligently contaminated the state’s water ways with 2 billion gallons of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), a gas additive experts believe poisons drinking water. The intrigue came amid growing bad blood between the two sides.

Sher Edling and Pawa’s group — Hagens Berman — barnstormed the country in recent years, convincing cities to sue energy companies for allegedly contributing to damage caused by climate change. The rivalry between the two attorneys heated up Nov. 26 after San Francisco and Oakland, California, fired Hagens Berman and hired Sher Edling to represent the cities as they appeal a court’s decision to dismiss their lawsuits against Exxon.

Hagens Berman’s fee would have been 23.5% of any winnings from its cases with San Francisco and Oakland. Hagens Berman stood to earn possibly billions of dollars in contingency fees depending on the total winnings, had San Francisco, Oakland or New York City won their global warming suits.

Hollywood Is Apparently Taking Part In The Crusade

Wealthy Hollywood elite are apparently financially front-loading much of Sher Edling’s legal pursuits. Tech entrepreneur Jeffrey Skoll, for instance, is partially responsible for helping support these missions.

Skoll founded the Skoll Foundation and owns Participant Media, a film production company that produced “Dark Waters” starring actor Mark Ruffalo, which tells the story of an Ohio-based attorney who fought legal battles against a massive chemical company. “Dark Waters” was released in 2019.

Ruffalo testified in front of Congress in November about what he and other activists believe are the dangers PFAS pose. Todd Haynes, the director of “Dark Waters,” painted a dire portrait of what such chemicals are capable of doing to people.

“I can see how the illnesses, the rotting teeth, and the dead livestock all fit into that. It’s a terrifying peril,” Haynes said in a November interview. A study BMJ Open published in 2018 found no linkage between PFAS or any other so-called “forever chemicals,” and the prevalence dental cavities.

The Skoll Foundation uses a group called Resource Media to help it attract major media attention. Resource Media, a nonprofit public relations firm that works to amplify litigation on behalf of social justice issues, also handled communications for Sher Edling in its lawsuits. John Lamson of Resource Media is included on a 2017 Sher Edling press statement. Lamson left Resource in 2018 and now works as director of media relations at Sher Edling.

“Resource Media provides communications strategy and support to the Skoll Foundation and its grantees, but isn’t involved in any communications about toxic chemicals on behalf of the Skoll Foundation,” a spokeswoman for Resource Media told the DCNF.

Tong’s office has not responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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41 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: Here’s An Inside Look At How Climate Crusaders Are Kickstarting A Campaign That Is Getting Hollywood’s Attention

  1. Next up, lawsuits targeting companies that expose their employees and customers to dihydrogen oxide, which is routinely used as a fire extinguishing agent. The U.S. is an advanced modern country with strict public safety regulations, but every year 3,500 people succumb to lethal levels of dihydrogen oxide.

    • Whats worse is that it is found washing up on beaches around the world, and summer deaths of dihydrogen oxide victims spike every year, and the trend is increasing!!!

      • What is truly frightening is that once the general public realise just how prevalent dihydrogen oxide (DHO) is, how it can lie in wait so to speak in innocent looking, white fluffy storages in the air and then fall from the sky when weaponised into larger droplets or even DEADLY solid balls, well….. there will be mass hysteria. People will not even be safe when they choose to live miles away from lakes and oceans which, while being large storages of DHO, are at least readily identified and warning signage put up.

        We must find out who is responsible for this lurking catastrophe and force them to clean this deadly, toxic material up before it is too late and we are all past the tipping point and a terrible death inevitable.

        Death to DHO! Death to DHO!

        • And don’t forget how dihydrogen oxide is seeping into our food and beverages.

          Scientists have reported dangerous levels of dihydrogen oxide in:
          Cucumber, 96% dihydrogen oxide
          Tomatoes, 95% dihydrogen oxide
          Spinach, 93% dihydrogen oxide
          Broccoli, 90% dihydrogen oxide
          Brussel sprouts, 88% dihydrogen oxide
          Oranges, 86% dihydrogen oxide
          Apples, 85% dihydrogen oxide

          It is also widely believed that up to 60% of the human adult body may be contaminated with dihydrogen oxide.

          Oh, the Hugh Manatee! I’m gonna sue!

    • It’s a two edged sword. The BBC is running an article: “Climate change: Oceans running out of oxygen as temperatures rise”
      It could mean fire extinguishers will just have hydrogen in them. And we won’t be swimming in the sea anymore.

    • I think this entire fear-mongering campaign has been carefully tested in focus-groups, especially targeting women of childbearing age. The Anti-Fracking cabal here in Colorado has uniformly adopted the phrase “health and safety” to justify expansion of government and promulgation of dictatorial regulations and restrictions.

      After all, who could oppose “common sense regulations to protect the environment and health and safety – of the most vulnerable among us”?

      Only the” paid stooges of industry who really want to poison our air and water”.

      Sound familiar?

      Communists commandeered the environmental movement when the old Soviet Union collapsed, but their goals haven’t changed. They are very adept at recruiting useful idiots to chant and carry signs and be OUTRAGED!.

      • Unravelling how all of this has come about is crucially important. Please listen to this interview:
        ‘Burning Down the Academic Industrial Complex & the Need for REAL Science’

  2. It takes a lot of spin to bring climate into this. It’s a straightforward action over chemical pollution. The fact that one lawyer once acted in a climate suit doesn’t make this “climate activists are kick-starting”.

    • Agree, they seem more like Ambulance Chasers than devoted CC Warriors ?

      Having said that, a perusal of the Wonkypedia article on PFAS sort of suggests that concern might be justified ? Especially the part that describes waste PFAS being used in soil improvers.

    • Hey, Nick, how much spin would it take to bring wind turbines kill millions of birds every year into this? Are you waiting, like me, to see the Big lawyers and Hollywood “climate activists” get that legal action started? No? Why not?

  3. PFAS is allready a big issue in the Netherlands: the gouvernement recently made a law where 1 kilogram of soil may not contain the minimal measurable value of 0,001 microgram of the entire group of 4700 PFAS related chemical elements that are known. In practice it means no soil can be re-placed or moved anymore, because each tool used to dig up samples for testing contains more by nature and nobody asked the question if these values are related to the healthrisk of our population. The bitter thing on top is that our neighbour countries have much higher (or more realistic) treshold limits, bringing the economy to a full standstill.

  4. If these PFAS were discharged illegally then GUILTY, if they are simply being sold legally, and all research about them has been published, then NOT-GUILTY. Next case please.

  5. Look forward to movies with sad looking kids, dull looking older people, a feisty daring-do heroine and a transgender DA. And a million dollar paycheck at the end. It will go into the minds of the gullible as gods word into a minister’s.

  6. Aus govt has closed or offlimited areas where PFAS were used on training grounds for firefighters and people nearby with contaminated soils and water are now unable to sell homes and are having water brought in in some instances. as it doesnt degrade and bioaccumulates there is reason to be concerned and do some serious testing
    and NOT by some media or pR group either paid or anyone with industry links.

  7. Ed Z
    Heard of Roy Andersson, Swedish (surprise, surprise) director… I saw “Dr Strangelove” in a cinema in Stockholm in the 70’s that he many years later took over as his studio… I must say as a “Swede” I like Kubrik better…

  8. This could all end today if anyone actually wanted it to. But THEY DO NOT. Cutting off oil, gas and all chemicals to Hollywood destroys them instantly. But NO ONE WANTS THIS. Oil, gas and chemical companies all WANT these lawsuits and attacks. Good publicity, small cost. Never outlawed, just a new revenue source. Understand, THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE WANT. I cannot emphasize that enough. We foolishly think it’s not wanted but the evidence shows 100% that it IS WANTED. Now, stop complaining and learn to live with what the world wants.

    • The world doesn’t want this, the tiny minority of ‘elites’ do, in particular those who control the audio, video & print, so we see and hear only one side, with a lot of help from their small, loud mob of useful idiots. And Big Energy makes money from LITERALLY thin air, so of course they support it too, along with endless NGOs and other greedy fools.

      So the obvious problem is that nearly all media opposition to the climate fraud ignores its true purpose, eco-feudalist, techno-totalitarian world government. As a result most Americans, who know it’s a fraud thanks to Climategate, believe it’s only about greed, just business as usual, when that’s just the gravy and the lure to gain promoters. Those behind this scheme well know if the hideous, psychotic truth got out, the fraud would end overnight, dissolve like the Emperor’s New Clothes, and expose ALL supporting it as fascist liars or fools. So it seems they’ve infiltrated nearly all sources of information, as JFK warned us about nearly 60 years ago:

      “For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covet means for expanding its field of influence; on infiltration instead of invasion; on subversion instead of elections; on intimidation instead of free choice. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly-knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. It’s preparations are concealed, not published; its mistakes are buried, not headlined; its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no secret is revealed.” – JFK
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdMbmdFOvTs
      Remarks of the President to the American Newspaper Publishers Association, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, NY
      April 27, 1961
      FULL SPEECH: The President & The Press
      relevant excerpt at 5:17

  9. No such thing as a “forever” chemical. They all degrade, but some much more slowly than others. I would hazard a guess that the perfluorosulfonates are biochemically degraded more rapidly under anoxic conditions, such as those that reduce sulfate.

    Of course, there’s no substitute for whacking it with Ultraviolet in the presence of oxygen and water.

  10. How will the Hollywood stars look without makeup?

    A better world through chemistry. And better looking actors.

    Who is Mark Ruffalo? And are his concerns important to the Congress or to anyone else?

    • “Who is Mark Ruffalo? And are his concerns important to the Congress or to anyone else?”

      He’s a nobody leftwing actor, and his concerns are only important to idiots like him.

    • Ruffalo played the human guy Hulk turned into when Hulk was sad. Or something. I bailed on the MCU after Iron Man and regret nothing. He played third fiddle to a character that was CGI.

      So basically we have a guy who’s most famous movie roles weren’t actually him is probably now acutely aware that now the major arc of the Marvel Movies is over he needs to make himself important again and soon, otherwise his future pay checks are going to come from cringeworthy tv commercials. My take is he is trying to draw attention back onto himself as quickly as possible before the Marvel Movies become yesterday’s news. He has also been publicly latching his name against one of the Old White Males (snark intended) currently doing that US election pre-selection thing.

      Basically, even by Hollywood standards, he is not very important.

    • Who is Mark Ruffalo?

      An actor, probably best known for playing the Hulk in the Avengers movies

      And are his concerns important to the Congress or to anyone else?

      Not in a sane world, they’re not.

  11. Holywood makes life so easy,that is not a spelling error,if they support anything,I am against it on principle.
    Now I reserve the right to reconsider, but unlike Hollywood I am capable of rationally examining an argument/point of view.
    So far my “knee jerk” assumptions has been more correct than anything the Cult of Calamitous Climate has spewed forth so far.

  12. There is one industry that has a huge carbon footprint, uses a massive amount of resources, and contributes nothing of tangible value to society, nor any needed services. We need to protest its existence,and demand that, to protect the future of our children, it must be shut down immediately. I’m referring to Hollywood, of course. I suspect that a vast majority of the world would neither notice their demise, nor suffer from it.

  13. “Pawa declined to comment for this story and directed the DCNF to an unrelated link when asked about his role in recruiting Connecticut’s attorney general’s office.”

    Some reanimation for that “unrelated link” :

    https://www.google.com/search?client=ms-android-huawei&sxsrf=ACYBGNQWYqzYvQwuXX99DAbiUr-ZVGzUMw%3A1576790955829&ei=q-v7Xa6gMvGArwTE9Z3oAw&q=breitbart+dcnf&oq=breitbart+dcnf&gs_l=mobile-gws-wiz-serp.

    +

    http://dailycallernewsfoundation.org/

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