PHOENIX — The University of Arizona has been ordered to surrender emails by two UA scientists that a group claims will help prove that theories about human-caused climate change are false and part of a conspiracy.
Pima County Superior Court Judge James Marner rejected arguments by the Board of Regents that disclosure of the documents would be “contrary to the best interests of the state.”
Marner said it may be true that some of the documents sought by Energy & Environment Legal Institute might be classified as unpublished research, manuscripts, preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers and plans for future research.
But the judge said the subject matter of the documents has become available to the general public. And that, Marner said, does not allow the university to withhold disclosure under a separate section of the law governing university records.
There was no immediate response from the university.
The ruling is a turnabout for Marner, who had previously ruled that some emails were properly withheld because they contained things like confidential information or attorney work product. He said at the time that the university did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in withholding other documents, including unpublished data, research, drafts and commentary.
But last year the state Court of Appeals told Marner to take another look.
Appellate Judge Joseph Howard, writing for the unanimous court, said it’s legally irrelevant what university officials thought was appropriate to disclose.
He said everyone involved in the case acknowledges that the emails from Malcolm Hughes, who is still with the UA, and Jonathan Overpeck, who left earlier this year, are public records. Howard said state law carries a presumption that all public records are subject to disclosure, with certain exceptions.
That, Howard said, required Marner to examine the records to determine whether making them public would harm “the best interests of the state,” as the university has claimed.
Craig Richardson, president of E & E, said the request relates to so-called “hockey stick” research. It drew its name from graphs that climate scientists say show a long-term decline in global temperatures over most of the last 150 years followed by a sharp rise.
“It’s the foundational argument for really this whole climate change industry and their focus,” he said.
In 2009, some computer servers at the University of East Anglia in Britain were hacked and emails stolen, with the names of the two UA scientists found in the mix. Some of what was found was labeled “climategate” and is being used by groups to show that global warming is a conspiracy.
“They showed there were a lot of games being played with the data,” Richardson said.
He said that getting all the emails, including from the two scientists, will reveal “an unvarnished view of how the process works ... and how climate scientists on the other side of this have been shut out.”