New York AG hits 'do-nothing Congress' for Exxon probe pushback

New York AG hits 'do-nothing Congress' for Exxon probe pushback
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The office of New York’s attorney general dismissed a House GOP letter about his investigation into ExxonMobil Corp. as “ironic” on Thursday. 

Members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, including Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), sent a letter to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this week requesting information related to his investigation into claims Exxon misled the public about its climate science research. 

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Opponents of that probe — from Schneiderman and other state attorneys general — say it infringes on the First Amendment rights of ExxonMobil and other oil industry interests. 

“The committee is concerned that these efforts to silence speech are based on political theater rather than legal or scientific arguments, and that they run counter to an attorney general’s duty to serve ‘as the guardian of the legal rights of the citizens,’” the letter said.  

Members requested information about workshops and meetings related to climate change and communications between Schneiderman’s office and anti-climate change groups. 

But Schneiderman spokesman Eric Soufer hit back against the committee on Thursday, saying the letter is “breathtaking” and that its senders “appear to be part of a multipronged media campaign funded by the fossil fuel industry aimed at suppressing the free exchange of ideas among scientists, academics and responsible law enforcement.”

“It is remarkable that a do-nothing Congress that has refused to take any action on climate change is now attempting to disrupt this important investigation into potential corporate malfeasance,” Soufer said in a statement. 

“Anyone who thinks that Attorney General Schneiderman will be intimidated by this effort has no idea who they're dealing with.”

Probes by Schneiderman and other attorneys general have kicked off a host of legal backlash, including a lawsuit from Exxon seeking to block a probe from the attorney general for the Virgin Islands.

Some Republicans and oil-producing states have looked to back Exxon in the investigation. Attorneys general from Texas and Alabama on Monday joined the oil giant’s Virgin Islands lawsuit, calling the investigation a violation of the First Amendment and “a fishing expedition of the worst kind.”