- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York’s attorney general has refused to send requested documents about his investigation into Exxon Mobil to a congressional committee, saying Congress lacks jurisdiction over state law enforcement.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told Republican U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texan who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, that his letter request May 18 was based on “incorrect statements” about what he’s doing and “raises serious constitutional concerns.”

Smith and 12 other committee Republicans wrote to Schneiderman and 16 other attorneys general, saying the AGs have been pushed by environmental activists “to use their prosecutorial powers to stifle scientific discourse” over climate change.

The committee Republicans requested all documents and communications between their offices and environmental groups, activist groups and federal agencies as well as communication among themselves concerning subpoenas or potential prosecutions related to climate change.

Schneiderman, a Democrat, has been investigating whether the Texas-based oil giant misled investors and consumers about global warming from burning fossil fuels and the related business risks.

The company has denied suppressing its research or misleading investors.

The congressional letters were sent to all 17 attorneys general who announced their coordinated effort March 29 to use their offices to address threats from climate change. Schneiderman and at least two others are investigating Exxon Mobil’s representations. The company has denied any wrongdoing, saying it has provided shareholders information about the business risks for years.

“In the weeks since the March 29 press conference, legal actions against those who question climate change orthodoxy … have rapidly expanded to include subpoenas for documents, communications and research that would capture the work of more than 100 academic institutions, scientists and nonprofit organizations,” the committee members wrote.

In his response, Schneiderman wrote that the lawmakers’ letter made “unfounded claims” about his motives. “Second, Congress does not have jurisdiction to demand documents and communications from a state law enforcement official regarding the exercise of a state’s sovereign police powers,” he said.

Schneiderman added that his office was unaware of any precedent supporting congressional oversight or investigation of a state attorney general and his investigations of potential violations under state law.

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