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 February 25, 2024

Ted Cruz investigates group training federal judges on climate change cases

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has initiated an investigation into the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), based in Washington, D.C., regarding its Climate Judiciary Project (CJP) and its association with former Biden administration official Ann Carlson.

Cruz, serving as the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, penned a letter to ELI President Jordan Diamond on Friday, seeking details about the CJP's endeavor to offer climate-related education to federal judges nationwide.

The inquiry

His inquiry raised concerns about Carlson's involvement in the project and its connections to a law firm engaged in prominent climate litigation.

Established in 2018, the CJP by ELI aimed to provide impartial and factual information on climate change litigation, tailoring its curriculum specifically for federal judges.

"Although ELI claims that it gives ‘neutral, objective information to the judiciary about the science of climate change,’ [CJP] is meant to be a direct complement to the wave of climate change litigation initiated by the Carlson-connected law firm Sher Edling," wrote Cruz. "Indeed, ELI knows the impact this litigation could have on the fossil fuel industry."

Over the years, the project has conducted numerous events and developed curriculum modules, attracting participation from more than 1,700 judges.

Carlson, a former Biden administration official, served as a board adviser for the CJP. However, Cruz pointed out her affiliations with Sher Edling, a law firm actively pursuing climate litigation against major oil companies on behalf of various states and cities.

Cruz's skepticism

Cruz voiced skepticism regarding ELI's claim of impartiality, citing shared funding channels with Sher Edling and personnel overlaps between the two entities. He questioned the potential biases inherent in the CJP's curriculum, suggesting that it may advocate for plaintiffs in climate change cases.

The senator's inquiry underscores broader debates surrounding climate litigation and the influence of organizations like ELI in shaping judicial perspectives on environmental matters.

In response to Cruz's inquiry, ELI emphasized its nonpartisan stance and commitment to providing objective information to judges.

The response

The organization stated that it is reviewing Cruz's letter and will provide a suitable response. The scrutiny directed towards the CJP reflects the complexities inherent in navigating climate-related issues within the legal system, highlighting the need for transparency and impartiality in educating judges on such matters.

As discussions unfold, the inquiry initiated by Senator Cruz sheds light on the intricate dynamics surrounding climate change litigation and the role of organizations like ELI in shaping judicial perceptions.

It underscores the importance of ensuring that judges receive accurate and unbiased information to make informed decisions on environmental issues.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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