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Climate Kids Demand Feds Turn Over 'Wayne Tracker' (aka Rex Tillerson) Emails

"When looking for evidence of a cover-up, emails from Rex Tillerson's pseudonym about climate change are just the kind of evidence the court needs to see."

A caricature of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who previously served as CEO of ExxonMobil and used the email alias "Wayne Tracker" for years.  (Photo: DonkeyHotey/flickr/cc)

Lawyers representing youth in a landmark climate lawsuit are demanding to see the emails Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent using the alias "Wayne Tracker" while serving as CEO of ExxonMobil.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office made the claim of the email alias last week in a court filing as part of its investigation into the oil giant's climate cover-up. The filing said Tillerson used the "Tracker" account to discuss climate change and other matters from at least 2008-2015.

In the youths' case, as Common Dreams wrote, the 21 "co-plaintiffs argue that by failing to act on climate change, the U.S. government has violated the youngest generation's constitutional rights and their rights to vital public trust resources."

Their legal action, which now names President Donald Trump as climate villain #1, seeks a science-based plan to reduce emissions and is supported by the nonprofit Our Children's Trust.

While the "Tracker" emails were sought by Schneiderman's investigation, the youths' attorneys say they are germane to their case as well.

ExxonMobil is a member of the oil and gas industry trade group American Petroleum Institute (API), which is an intervenor-defendent in the climate case. Tillerson also served on the board of directors of API through the end of December 2016.

A press statement released Monday from Our Children's Trust says: "attorneys representing youth plaintiffs suspect the emails will also reveal the deep influence of the fossil fuel defendants over U.S. energy and climate policies, and the defendants' private acknowledgement that climate change was caused by their product, both of which are important to the youths' case."


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The lawyers are asking for emails held by defendants API and the United States government to be turned over by April 16, 2017.

According to Julia Olson, the plaintiffs' counsel and executive director of Our Children's Trust, "When looking for evidence of a cover-up, emails from Rex Tillerson's pseudonym about climate change are just the kind of evidence the court needs to see."

Those emails, however, might be "lost."

Bloomberg reported Friday: "Exxon Mobil Corp. says a technical glitch may have prevented it from automatically preserving emails in a secondary account used by former Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson to discuss climate change risks and other issues under the alias Wayne Tracker."

The youth plaintiffs last month also asked the API to for documents that show the industry's role in government climate policy. One of the plaintiffs, 20-year-old Columbia University student Alex Loznak, said, "The API's secrets will tell the shocking story of an industry bent on destabilizing the planet's climate system, hand-in-hand with corrupt government officials."

Of the youths' suit, historian and author Jeremy Brecher wrote last month that it "is shaping up to be not only a historic trial of the culpability of the U.S. government for destruction of the earth's climate, but of the power of courts to protect our rights."

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