Energy & Environment

House Republicans to assert authority over Exxon investigations


House Republicans will hold a hearing next month to assert their authority over the state attorneys general who are investigating Exxon Mobil Corp.

Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) announced the hearing Tuesday as part of his investigation into the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, who have refused to comply with his subpoenas. Both states say Smith is overstepping his authority.

{mosads}“The hearing will examine Congress’ investigative authority as it relates to the committee’s oversight of the impact of investigations undertaken by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts at the behest of several environmental organizations,” the committee said in a notice.

“Specifically, the hearing will explore the validity of the committee’s current inquiry in the context of Congress’ broad oversight authority, as defined by legal precedent.”

Smith is expecting three conservative college professors to testify, including Florida International University’s Elizabeth Price Foley, who wrote this month that Smith’s subpoenas “easily fall within Congress’s legislative and oversight competence.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) are investigating whether Exxon’s made fraudulent statements about climate change to the public or investors.

Smith has accused the officials and environmental groups who support the probes of trying to chill the free-speech rights of Exxon and other past or current climate change doubters.

His subpoenas have sought a wide range of documents from Schneiderman, Healey and the green groups regarding their activities.

The attorneys general have fought back.

A Schneiderman deputy told Smith this month that “the requests violate New York’s sovereignty and fundamental principles of federalism,” and that the Exxon investigation is confidential.

An attorney for Healey wrote last month that she “objects to the subpoena as an unconstitutional and unwarranted interference with a legitimate ongoing state investigation.”

They have also accused Smith of conducting an overly political investigation, saying he has refused offers to meet with representatives of Schneiderman or Healey if a representative of the Science Committee’s Democrats is also present.

The Democrats, led by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), are likely to bring their own witness to the hearing but had just learned of the session on Tuesday, spokeswoman Kristin Kopshever said.

Tags Climate change Eddie Bernice Johnson Eric Schneiderman Exxon House Science Committee Lamar Smith Maura Healey

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