Lamar Smith to hold hearing over Exxon climate fight

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, in Washington Wednesday. (Photo: James Osborne)
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, in Washington last month. (Photo: James Osborne)

The fight around whether Exxon Mobil and other oil companies committed fraud in past statements downplaying the impact of climate change on the planet will get a public airing in Congress next month.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, has scheduled a hearing Sept. 14 to examine the investigation undertaken by state attorneys general led by New York’s Eric Schneiderman on the oil industry.

The hearing follows subpoenas issued against the attorneys general and environmental groups last month by the House Committee on Space, Science and Technology, of which Smith is the chair.

The witness list posted by the committee read:

• Jonathan Turley, J.B. & Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law, The George Washington University Law School
• Ronald D. Rotunda, Doy and Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law
• Elizabeth Price Foley, Professor of Law, Florida International University College of Law

So far, both attorneys general and environmental groups have refused to comply with the committee’s subpoena on constitutional grounds.

News of the hearing drew condemnation of Smith as putting the needs of Exxon, which is headquartered outside Dallas, over those of the planet, as scientists continue to report the impact of climate change are accelerating.

“Rep. Smith has zero authority or cause to subpoena us, the attorneys general, or any other groups looking to uncover the truth about Exxon’s climate lies,” Jamie Henn, communications director of website 350.org, said in a statement. “Maybe instead of this buffoonery, the House Science committee could call on, you know, a scientist, to re-explain the threat of climate change.”

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