Tags: Climate Change | Global Warming | attorneys general | climate change | secret | agreement | lamar smith

Democratic Attorneys General Hiding Details of Climate Change Investigation

Image: Democratic Attorneys General Hiding Details of Climate Change Investigation
House Science Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith issued subpoenas to two Democratic state attorneys general, seeking records about their investigation into whether Exxon Mobil misled investors about global warming. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

By    |   Friday, 05 Aug 2016 11:48 AM

Over a dozen Democrat attorneys general signed an agreement to keep their findings secret in their investigation into Exxon Mobile for possibly misleading investors about climate change.

Signed in April and May by representatives for 17 attorneys general, the Common Interest Agreement is often used by prosecutors during investigations that include litigation. The Energy and Environment Legal Institute, which obtained the revealing documents, claims they were "clearly drafted to obstruct open-records requests while these AGs carried out a political campaign against their critics."

"It's baffling that these AGs feel they can trample on their own states' public records laws," E&E general counsel David W. Schnare said in a statement Thursday, according to The Washington Times

"If they truly believe that they are engaged in anything other than a purely political campaign, they should have no problem explaining to the public what they are doing and subjecting their activities to the scrutiny their legislatures demanded."

E&E filed open-records requests and a lawsuit against the District of Columbia to obtain the documents.

"The time and effort it took to obtain the document; the arguments made to defeat efforts to obtain it; and the AGs' reluctance even to acknowledge the existence of such an agreement, all raise more questions about what these AGs are hiding," according to the organization.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's spokesman Eric Soufer defended the agreement, saying it's a "routine practice during a multistate investigation.

"These agreements preserve the confidentiality of public information shared among state law enforcement officials during the course of an investigation," Soufer told the Times in an email Thursday. "These agreements are also routinely employed by non-government entities engaged in private litigation."

Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey have both refused to comply with subpoenas from Rep. Lamar Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, for records of their investigation, ABC News reports. Healey's chief counsel Richard Johnston called the request "an unconstitutional and unwarranted interference with a legitimate ongoing state investigation."

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, also on the committee, has called Smith's subpoenas "a fishing expedition," speaking to The Boston Globe. Smith, a climate change doubter, has issued many subpoenas for research into the subject, and last year attempted to force the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to hand over documents, which they refused.

"NOAA, rightfully, has been reluctant to waste their time and resources," says Johnson, who also said that Smith's actions are "more designed to harass climate scientists than to further any legitimate legislative purpose" and "a serious misuse of Congressional oversight powers."

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Over a dozen Democrat attorneys general signed an agreement to keep their findings secret in their investigation into Exxon Mobile for possibly misleading investors about climate change.
attorneys general, climate change, secret, agreement, lamar smith
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2016-48-05
Friday, 05 Aug 2016 11:48 AM
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