Just the Facts | March 24, 2016 Click here if you have trouble viewing this email

Falsely shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. This familiar metaphor has its roots in the legal principle that speech that is both dangerous and false is so unconstructive that it deserves less constitutional protection than other speech.

How would the same principle apply to someone who, when a fire alarm has sounded due to an actual fire, comes over the loud speaker to assure theater occupants, insincerely, that there is in fact no fire? 

When I hear climate change skeptics, I cannot help but think of this scenario.  Even while over 97 percent of the scientific community and the vast majority of Americans believe that humans are contributing to climate change, a small but well-heeled cohort continues to deny and even try to discredit what objective science tells us unambiguously. Worse, it is unclear whether those in the cohort even believe their narrative themselves. 

I applaud the New York Attorney General’s office for investigating chronic contradictions between public statements and internal communications on climate change by Exxon Mobil and Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal producer. We need precisely this sort of headwind, and more, to discourage disinformation—and encourage transparency—on climate change.

That is why last week I signed on to legislation introduced in both the House and Senate to direct the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to improve climate transparency for investors.  The idea is simple: if fossil fuel companies expect climate regulation or climate impacts to affect their bottom line, investors deserve to know the truth.  Frankly, so does everyone else.

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