Panel devoted to protecting scientific inquiry
Re: “AGs fighting Smith’s latest climate change crusade,” Rick Casey, Other Views, Saturday:
This opinion piece attacked the Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s oversight of the effects of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s climate change investigations. Mr. Casey’s piece included a number of incorrect assertions that I write to correct.
The actions by the state attorneys general are undoubtedly having an effect on scientists, researchers and those engaged with our nation’s scientific enterprise. It is this chilling effect that the science committee is investigating.
The actions of the attorneys general are a direct attack on the scientific debate surrounding climate change. Their theory is that somehow Exxon Mobil and other fossil fuel companies were privy to conclusions about climate change well beyond the knowledge of the rest of the world’s scientists and that the company did not disclose these conclusions. This is preposterous. As former New York Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco pointed out recently, “Exxon Mobil has been open,” publishing “extensive research over decades that largely lined up with mainstream climatology.”
Congress has a clear need to conduct oversight. Our nation’s privately funded research and development program is under attack by two powerful officials in New York and Massachusetts. At the behest of environmental extremists, the attorneys general have declared themselves judges over the validity of scientific findings of those who disagree with those extremists.
My committee’s primary goal is to protect and promote scientific inquiry and free speech. Contrary to Mr. Casey’s assertions, the committee’s investigation into the actions and effects of the attorneys general and activist environmental groups is aimed not at protecting any single corporation. Instead, it is an effort to protect the First Amendment rights of all companies, nonprofit organizations and scientists, along with their ability to fund and conduct scientific research free from intimidation and threats of prosecution.
Rep. Lamar Smith represents the 21st district of Texas in the House of Representatives and is chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.