Mark Jacobson (photo credit: Stanford University)

A researcher whose work is increasingly embraced by left-leaning politicians in the West hired a lawyer after his study was critiqued in a peer-reviewed paper.

Two years ago, Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson released “roadmaps” for states to meet their energy needs with an entirely renewable energy portfolio within a few decades. His research laid the groundwork for the environmental agenda pushed by a growing number of Democrats in the West and on Capitol Hill, including Colorado’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and Mike Johnston’s “100% renewable energy in Colorado by 2040” platforms. In Washington, D.C., Jacobson’s work informed the “100 percent renewable energy by 2050” bill introduced in the House last week by Polis and his colleagues Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and in the Senate by Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) in April.

Jacobson’s research has been met with broad skepticism among scientists, environmental experts, climate activists and Denver Post columnist Vincent Carroll. Last month, a peer-reviewed paper written by 21 researchers and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America analyzed Jacobson’s research and found “significant shortcomings,” “errors, inappropriate methods, and implausible assumptions.”

In response, Jacobson warned the paper’s lead author Christopher Clack and his co-authors that he has “hired an attorney to address the falsification of claims about our work in the Clack article,” according to the National Review.

“It’s unprecedented for a scientist to do that,” Clack told the National Review. “We have not attacked him. All the vitriol has come from his side. We have only talked about the substance of the paper.”

Clack said that he and his co-authors “are trying to be scientists and trying to understand what we can do, and do it. And not mess around and give people wishful hopes for things that won’t happen.”

“I don’t see how he thinks any of this is helpful,” Clack continued. “It diminishes all of science the way he has behaved. It’s beyond the pale in my opinion.”

Jacobson’s implicit threat to sue is “antithetical to what we should be doing, which is to have an open and honest debate,” University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke, Jr. told the National Review. Pielke, Jr. has testified in Congress about climate science on numerous occasions, and, in 2015, was targeted by a Washington, D.C.-based liberal group that sought to silence him.

Pielke, Jr. said the “intimidation campaign” Jacobson has launched “to clear the field for his ideas” is “an effort to silence experts when you can’t counter them on the merits.”