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U.S. Attorneys General Subpoenaed in Climate Change Investigations

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology has issued subpoenas to the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts in a climate change investigation.

The committee, chaired by Republican Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, issued the subpoenas in the latest round of sparring over the Exxon Mobil/climate change fiasco.

The AGs receiving the subpoenas had issued subpoenas of their own during their investigations as to what Exxon Mobil may have known about climate change in recent decades, and whether or not the company was truthful with the public about that information. But in a recent news conference Rep. Randy Weber (R-Tex.) said that the attorneys general “have veered away from enforcing the law to environmental activism.”

In addition to the newest round of subpoenas, Smith said that the committee would issue subpoenas to eight environmental groups to discover their role in the investigations by the AGs in New York and Massachusetts.

In a statement released by the committee, Smith said, “The attorneys general have appointed themselves to decide what is valid and what is invalid regarding climate change. The attorneys general are pursuing a political agenda at the expense of scientists’ right to free speech. The Committee has a responsibility to protect First Amendment rights of companies, academic institutions, scientists, and nonprofit organizations. That is why the Committee is obligated to ask for information from the attorneys general and others. Unfortunately, the attorneys general have refused to give the committee the information to which it is entitled. What are they hiding? And why?”

Committee member Darin LaHood of Illinois accused the attorneys general of “going down the path of partisan politics and attacking the people who disagree with their conclusions about climate change.”

Related: U.S. Oil Rig Count Increases For 6th Time In 7 Weeks

The actions by the committee have been decried by the Union of Concerned Scientists who stated “By attempting to interfere in these investigations, the chairman is directly undermining efforts to hold accountable those who intentionally misrepresent or suppress scientific information. His actions are contrary to the very principles he claims to hold dear.”

On its website, the group also maintains that while Smith is championing First Amendment rights, they agree with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who stated: “The First Amendment does not give you the right to commit fraud.”

The group also states that its concern is “…with how fossil fuel companies have misrepresented and cast doubt upon such research, and in doing so, may have misled their investors and the public.”

As reported by Oilprice.com in January, New York’s Martin Act does empower the attorney general to prosecute any companies operating in New York that are suspected of financial fraud. It doesn’t require prosecutors to prove that a company intended to defraud, only that its information was inaccurate or not disclosed.


Lincoln Brown for Oilprice.com

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  • Abel Adamski on July 16 2016 said:
    I wouldn't worry too much. The natural consequences of an AGW (GHG) heated world are becoming more and more apparent.
    The question is when will the pitchforks and lynch mobs start forming. ?
  • Leslie Graham on July 16 2016 said:
    Exxon et al are terrified of this. It has nothing whatever to do with 'opinions' and 'free speech' and they know it.
    They knowingly lied to their investors and shareholders. That is fraud pure and simple and is a criminal offence. There must be a public court case over this - after all if they have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear have they?

    And even if it had been a 'free speech' issue - which it clearly wasn't - free speech does not extend to shouting "There is NO fire!!" in a theater that is rapidly filling with smoke.

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