Climate Change Deniers|Will Get Vt. Records

     MONTPELIER, Vt. (CN) – A Vermont Superior Court has given the state attorney general until Oct. 3 to comply with records requests from anti-energy-regulation groups that claim several states are planning to investigate groups that deny climate change.
     The Energy & Environment Legal Institute and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic submitted records requests in May to Attorney General William Sorrell. They sought information about supposed meetings Sorrell’s office held with environmental groups, and claim that the meetings were part of a multi-state effort to plan investigations of organizations that deny climate change.
     Sorrell’s office was negotiating the scope of the records requests when the two-week statutory deadline expired, sparking the lawsuit in Washington County Superior Court.
     The state moved for dismissal on July 26, claiming the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies before suing.
     At a Sept. 15 hearing, Sorrell’s office told Superior Court Judge Mary Miles Teachout that though it had not yet delivered any records, “the scope had been narrowed by agreement and its staff was working diligently on the matter and expected to produce responsive documents imminently,” Teachout wrote in her Sept. 19 decision, refusing to dismiss.
     Energy & Environment Legal Institute executive director Craig Richardson said in a statement: “The AG has shown a reluctance of late to comply with Vermont law unless a court orders him to, suggesting a greater obligation in that office to the New York AG than the citizens of the Green Mountain State who are paying for his increasingly political operation.”
     In her 3-page ruling, Teachout wrote that she “accepts the AG’s representation at the September 15 hearing that production now is imminent although a little more time is needed.”
     She added that because “the AG has shown that there are exceptional circumstances given the breadth of the request and the need for the documents to be individually reviews to redact privileged material,” she gave Sorrell until Oct. 3 to produce the records.
     If any controversy remains after the attorney general complies with the court order, the plaintiffs will have until Oct. 21 to amend their complaint or file an appropriate motion. If nothing is filed by then, the case will be dismissed without prejudice.
     The Attorney General’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

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