- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Two state attorneys general who subpoenaed ExxonMobil on climate change are now refusing to comply with a House committee’s subpoenas on the Democrats’ pursuit of climate dissenters.

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said Wednesday the panel would “consider using all tools at its disposal to further its investigation” after New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey refused to cooperate.

“The Committee is disappointed that the New York and Massachusetts Attorneys General and the environmental activist organizations behind the AGs’ efforts have refused to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas,” Mr. Smith said in a statement.

“Their noncompliance only raises additional questions,” he added.

The Democrats’ defiance comes as the latest episode in a legal and legislative tug-of-war triggered by the formation in March of a Democrat-led coalition of 17 attorneys general aimed at investigating fossil fuel companies and their supporters for climate change “fraud.”

Both Mr. Schneiderman and Ms. Healey have issued subpoenas to ExxonMobil as part of their state probes, which critics have denounced as an effort to chill free speech and silence those who challenge the catastrophic climate change narrative.

ExxonMobil, which beat back a previous subpoena issued by the Virgin Islands attorney general, has condemned the effort as a politically motivated fishing expedition.

In his Tuesday letter to Mr. Smith, Mr. Schneiderman argued that the House subpoena would have “the obvious consequence of interfering with the NYOAG’s investigation into whether ExxonMobil made false and misleading statements in violation of New York’s business, consumer, and securities fraud laws.”

“The Subpoena brings us one step closer to a protracted, unnecessary legal confrontation, which will only distract and detract from the work of our respective offices,” Mr. Schneiderman said in his 10-page letter.

He said his office “remains willing to explore whether the Committee has any legitimate legislative purpose in the requested materials that could be accommodated without impeding those sovereign interests.”

Committee Republicans issued the subpoenas July 13 only after three previous attempts to gain information about the coordinated campaign by the attorneys general, called AGs United for Clean Power, were met with resistance.

Ms. Healey’s office condemned the committee’s subpoena as an “unconstitutional and unwarranted interference with a legitimate ongoing state investigation.”

But Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee argued that the state investigations, led by 16 Democrats and one independent, raise concerns about whether they are intended to “deprive companies, nonprofit organizations, scientists and scholars of their First Amendment rights.”

“These actions are an attempt to chill the scientific research of those who do not support the attorneys’ general and environmental groups’ political positions,” said Rep. Brian Babin, the Texas Republican who heads the space subcommittee, at a July 13 press conference.

Mr. Schneiderman has argued that the probe into whether Exxon deliberately misled consumers and investors on its climate change research is aimed at determining whether the company committed “fraud,” not an effort to infringe on free speech.

The Massachusetts subpoena, which has been released publicly, demands Exxon’s communications with a dozen academics and free market think-tanks, while the House subpoena calls for the prosecutors’ emails and letters with eight environmental groups.

Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E. Walker has withdrawn three subpoenas related to the climate change probe after being challenged in court by Exxon and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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