Committee Ramps Up Investigation, Threatens Use of Compulsory Process Against Members of Green 20
WASHINGTON – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent letters to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and eight environmental organizations reiterating the Committee’s previous requests and threatening use of the compulsory process to obtain documents related to coordinated efforts to deprive companies, nonprofit organizations, scientists and scholars of their First Amendment rights and their ability to fund and conduct scientific research free from intimidation and threats of prosecution.
Today’s letters respond to Attorney General Schneiderman’s, Attorney General Healey’s, and the environmental groups’ continued refusal to provide documents that fulfill the Members’ legitimate requests.
The letters to the attorneys general state:
Your office’s written responses to the Committee’s request thus far, as well as those of your fellow “Green 20” attorneys general, are a deliberate attempt to mask the true purpose of your investigation and mischaracterize the Committee’s oversight. Characterizing your investigation as solely focused on Exxon and its statements is a misrepresentation. The publicly available subpoenas issued by members of the “Green 20” are overbroad and would, in fact, capture communications between and among scientists at universities conducting federally funded scientific research, as well as between and among numerous non-profit organizations.
Smith’s letters reiterate the requests included in the Committee’s May 18 letters and ask the attorneys general and environmental groups to provide responsive documents and communications on or before July 13 at 12:00 p.m.
If you continue to refuse to provide information responsive to the Committee’s requests on a voluntary basis, I will be left with no alternative but to utilize the tools delegated to the Committee by the Rules of the House of Representatives. Specifically, the Committee will consider use of compulsory process to obtain responsive documents in the possession, custody, or control of your office.
On June 20, 17 Committee Republicans sent letters to 17 state attorneys general reiterating the Committee’s initial request for documents and denouncing the attorneys’ general mischaracterization of the Committee’s jurisdiction in this matter. The Members received several responses that mark the second time the attorneys general refused to produce responsive documents.
Earlier in June, widespread concerns about the attorneys’ general far-reaching legal actions became apparent. Attorneys general from 13 other states wrote a letter to the Green 20 stating the Green 20’s use of law enforcement authority “undermines the trust” invested in the Office of the Attorney General and “threatens free speech.”
In May, the Committee sent letters to 17 state attorneys general and letters to eight environmental groups raising concerns about their efforts to criminalize scientific dissent. Several recipients responded to the Committee’s request by questioning the Committee’s jurisdiction in the matter. Their responses were unfounded. Congress’ broad investigatory power is rooted in the Constitution, and the Science Committee has jurisdiction over “Environmental research and development.”
In March, a group of state attorneys general—the self-proclaimed “Green 20”—announced that they were cooperating on an unprecedented effort against those who have questioned the causes, magnitude, or best ways to address climate change. Members of the Green 20, specifically Attorney General Schneiderman and Attorney General Healey, subpoenaed documents, communications and research that would capture the work of more than 100 academic institutions, scientists and nonprofit organizations that question the administration’s climate change agenda.
Today’s letter(s) to the attorneys general can be found HERE.
Today’s letter(s) to the environmental groups can be found HERE.