Energy & Environment

New York, Massachusetts AGs reject GOP’s climate subpoena

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The Democratic attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts are refusing to comply with House Republicans’ subpoena over their climate change investigations.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey wrote letters to House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) Tuesday saying that the subpoenas issued this month fall outside of the panel’s authority and violate their states’ rights.

{mosads}In a letter to Smith, Schneiderman’s counsel Leslie Dubeck called his subpoena an “unprecedented effort to target ongoing state law enforcement” operation and said that if enforced, it would “would have the obvious consequence of interfering” when Schneiderman’s investigation into whether Exxon Mobil Corp. illegally lied about what it knew about climate change.

“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,” Dubeck said.

She offered to meet with Smith or his staff to discuss the committee’s requests, though she asked that representatives of the Democrats on the panel, led by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), be present as well.

Richard Johnston, chief legal counsel to Healey, wrote that she “objects to the subpoena as an unconstitutional and unwarranted interference with a legitimate ongoing state investigation,” and “a dangerous overreach by the committee and an affront to states’ rights.”

He said that Smith and his colleagues ignored Healey’s offer to discuss the issue, as well as her objections to his authority and assertions that the documents are privileged.

“This sequence of events suggest that the majority had no intention of considering the substance of Attorney General Healey’s objections.”

Wednesday is the deadline Smith gave Schneiderman, Healey and numerous environmental groups to respond to wide-ranging subpoenas about their Exxon investigations.

Smith said he was “disappointed that Schneiderman and Healey refused to comply.

“These actions only raises additional questions about why the AGs refuse to be open and honest about their coordination with environmental extremist groups,” he said. “The committee will use all tools at its disposal to further its investigation.”

Smith has few options at his disposal to punish the attorneys general and greens for not complying with the petition.

He could ask the full House to vote to hold them in contempt of Congress, which requires a majority vote. Alternatively, the House could vote to ask House General Counsel Thomas Hungar’s office to pursue court action against them.

— This story was updated at 4:05 p.m.

Tags Climate change Eric Schneiderman Exxon Mobil House Science Committee Lamar Smith
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