WASHINGTON - U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a letter to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Mary Jo White requesting information about the purpose, scope, and origin of the SEC’s investigation into Exxon.

“The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is troubled by the Security and Exchange Commission’s recently announced investigation of Exxon Mobil Corporation.  It appears from press accounts that the SEC’s investigative actions, which date back to at least August of this year, are couched in concerns related to the science of climate change.  More disturbingly, media coverage has directly linked the Commission’s ‘far-reaching’ inquiry to New York Attorney General (AG) Eric Schneiderman’s ongoing investigation into Exxon under state securities fraud law.  The Committee is currently investigating the New York AG’s Exxon probe in order to assess the adverse effects his investigation might pose to the scientific research and development enterprise,” the letter states.

The Science Committee, which has jurisdiction over energy and environmental research, has an obligation to ensure that such research advances the American scientific enterprise and is free from threat of intimidation or prosecution. The Committee is concerned that the SEC’s investigation may be a disincentive to conducting climate change research. If indeed the SEC initiated its investigation based on information received from the New York AG, the SEC’s probe illustrates the very effects on scientific inquiry that the Committee is currently investigating.

Today’s letter can be found here.