Republicans on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology are threatening to subpoena records from Democratic states attorneys general investigating ExxonMobil and supposedly affiliated global warming skeptic groups.
“Your office’s written responses to the Committee’s request thus far, as well as those of your fellow ‘Green 20’ attorneys general, are a deliberate attempt to mask the true purpose of your investigation and mischaracterize the Committee’s oversight,” Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, who chairs the committee, wrote in a letter sent to the AGs of Massachusetts and New York.
Smith is reiterating his demand for documents related to AGs and environmentalists investigating Exxon based on reports by liberal reporters that the company allegedly misled investors and the public on climate science.
New York AG Eric Schneiderman kicked off Exxon investigations in November, alleging the company misled investors on the risks global warming pose to its business. Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands quickly followed Schneiderman’s lead and began their own probes into Exxon.
“Characterizing your investigation as solely focused on Exxon and its statements is a misrepresentation,” Smith wrote. “The publicly available subpoenas issued by members of the ‘Green 20’ are overbroad and would, in fact, capture communications between and among scientists at universities conducting federally funded scientific research, as well as between and among numerous non-profit organizations.”
Subpoenas sent by Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and Virgin Islands Ag Claude Walker demanded records from more than 100 conservative think tanks, policy experts, scientists and academic institutions as part of their Exxon investigation. Activists have long labeled these individuals and groups as “climate deniers” with ties to the oil industry.
Walker, however, has since withdrawn his subpoenas from Exxon and a libertarian think tank, and Healey has promised not to move forward with her subpoena while Exxon appeals it in court.
Effectively, Schneiderman is the only AG still pressing forward with investigating Exxon.
Still, Smith is demanding state AGs turn over all responsive documents by July 13th. This is the third time Smith has written to AGs and environmental groups working behind the scenes to delegitimize Exxon.
“If you continue to refuse to provide information responsive to the Committee’s requests on a voluntary basis, I will be left with no alternative but to utilize the tools delegated to the Committee by the Rules of the House of Representatives,” Smith wrote.
“Specifically, the Committee will consider use of compulsory process to obtain responsive documents in the possession, custody, or control of your office,” he wrote.
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