Escalating a political fight over global warming, a Republican House chairman issued subpoenas Wednesday to two Democratic state attorneys general, seeking records about their investigation into whether Exxon Mobil misled investors about global warming.
Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, is pursuing records from attorneys general Eric Schneiderman of New York and Maura Healey of Massachusetts along with nine environmental, scientific and philanthropic groups. Smith acted after Schneiderman refused for months to give the information.
Smith said Schneiderman and Healey were pursuing “a political agenda” on behalf of environmental groups that are fighting Exxon over decades-old research related to alleged climate change.
Smith charged that Schneiderman, Healey and their allies were trying to intimidate scientists and others who question man-made climate change.
“The actions by the attorneys general amount to a form of extortion,” Smith said at a news conference at the Capitol. The two officials and their allies want an out-of-court settlement with Exxon and other companies “so they can obtain funds for their own purposes,” Smith said.
A spokesman for Schneiderman said the science panel had no legal authority to issue subpoenas to a “duly elected, constitutional officer of a separate sovereign government.”
Spokesman Eric Soufer accused them of “trying to block a serious law- enforcement investigation into potential fraud at Exxon, adding that Smith has “zero credibility on this issue.”
Exxon has called the probe an effort to silence the company in the public debate about climate change.