In July, the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology, Rep. Lamar Smith, issued subpoenas to two state attorneys general who are currently investigating what ExxonMobil knew about climate science, when they knew it, and if the company misled investors.
The attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts both refused to turn over any information or communications about their investigations. Each AG's office argued the Committee had no authority to issue such a request, calling the subpoenas a violation of states' rights under the 10th amendment.
In a response last month, Smith, a Republican from Texas, announced a hearing to “affirm” that his Committee did have the legal authority to issue such subpoenas. The legal issue the September 14 hearing will address is whether a Congressional committee has subpoena power over state attorneys general and non-profit advocacy organizations. The subpoena was called “an unprecedented effort to target ongoing state law enforcement 'investigations or potential prosecutions'” by Leslie Dubeck, an attorney in the Office of the New York State Attorney General.
Smith has called three legal experts to bolster his claim — two with direct ties to the same Exxon-funded groups who have pushed climate science denial and inaction to cut greenhouse gas emissions.