Ellison’s fairytale climate change lawsuit is fueled — and funded — by the radical left

Why the lawsuit? Why now? The answer is simple — and chilling.

climate change
In 2020, Attorney General Keith Ellison sued oil companies for alleged deception to hide the risks of climate change. (Photo by Lorie Shaull/Flickr)

Minnesota is famous for its cold winters. Unfortunately, our elected officials in St. Paul seem committed to making our business climate chilly as well.

Since being elected attorney general in 2018, Keith Ellison has used the power of his office to litigate a wide variety of left-wing issues, ranging from attacks on law enforcement to restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. However, his latest ploy is his most ambitious — and it could leave Minnesota taxpayers on the hook for nearly half a billion dollars.

In 2020, Ellison sued oil companies for alleged deception to hide the risks of climate change. The civil complaint alleges violation of Minnesota laws against deceptive trade practices, false advertising, and consumer fraud. In January, after several years of legal wrangling, the case was returned to a Minnesota state court.

This attack on the energy industry in our state does not make sense because all objective facts point to a competently managed, profitable, and environmentally responsible industry that proactively takes steps to create economic opportunities and protect the environment.

Minnesota’s energy companies employ more than 120,000 people, and recent data suggest that Minnesota meets or exceeds all federal standards for emissions, ozone, carbon dioxide, and a host of other pollutants.

This begs the question: Why the lawsuit? Why now? The answer is simple — and chilling.

Ellison and other radical state attorneys general are attempting to use the state-level tort claims system to control U.S. energy policy by suing energy companies for the effects of “climate change,” in the hopes that friendly local judges will issue injunctions, fines, restrictions on operations and other obstacles to anyone involved in the production, generation, transmission, or delivery of energy. Similar efforts are underway in other states, including Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. The goal here is obvious — to bankrupt energy companies using tort law state by state.

Ellison’s disingenuous political maneuvering has already gained national infamy.

For example, in November of 2023, former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr co-authored an article in the Wall Street Journal where he flatly stated, “Keith Ellison wants to run U.S. energy policy from Minnesota.”

While former AG Barr is correct, Ellison has hired a known left-wing law firm with ties to the Democratic political machine to manage it day-to-day.

Recent reports indicate that Ellison has retained the San Francisco-based law firm Sher Edling, LLP, for this case, despite already having two full-time “Special Assistant Attorneys General” — funded by billionaire and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg — on staff to handle this case. Sher Edling has gained a reputation for pushing politically-motivated lawsuits, having done so for Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Baltimore, Honolulu, and several other localities. All these first-of-their-kind lawsuits laughably argue that oil companies are financially responsible for global warming and weather events that impact people and communities, when in reality these energy producers are providing vital energy services to customers who use them to grow our food, power our hospitals and allow us to quickly and comfortably travel where we need to go.

The worst part of this situation is that Sher Edling forms part of — and directly receives money from — a vast, left-wing dark money operation called Arabella Advisors. The Arabella Advisors, through their “New Venture Fund,” have essentially become a mechanism for the progressive left to institute unpopular policies through lawsuits that no legislature in any state — or, for that matter, the U.S. Congress — would dare to contemplate.

And now, Ellison wants to give this Sher Edling a $500 million kickback using Minnesotans’ hard-earned money to push his politically-motivated climate change lawsuit forward.

Ellison’s backroom political deals have not escaped notice. Three members of the Minnesota legislature have notified Ellison that they are closely monitoring his actions in this lawsuit and intend to hold him accountable.

Let’s hope they do. The politicization of our legal system risks further erosion of trust in our institutions at a time when we need honest and transparent leadership to restore it.

Isaac Orr is a Policy Fellow at Minnesota’s Center of the American Experiment, where he writes about energy and environmental issues.


Isaac Orr

Isaac Orr is a Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, where he writes about energy and environmental issues.