Washington, D.C. –  On Friday, 17 Science, Space, and Technology Committee Republicans sent letters to 17 state attorneys general reiterating the Committee’s request for documents related to coordinated efforts of state attorneys general and environmental groups 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.

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 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.

In May, the Committee sent letters to 17 state attorneys general raising concerns about their efforts to criminalize scientific dissent. These elected officials’ actions run counter to an attorney general’s duty to serve “as the guardian of the legal rights of the citizens” and to “assert, protect, and defend the rights of the people.”

Several state attorneys general responded to the Committee’s request questioning the Committee’s jurisdiction of the matter. Their responses are unfounded. Congress’ broad investigatory power is rooted in the Constitution, and the Science Committee has jurisdiction over “Environmental research and development.”

“The House Science Committee’s authority to investigate the concerns raised in my prior letter are grounded in the Constitution and reflected in the rules of the House of Representatives.  The Committee strongly disagrees with your contentions,” the members explain. 

“The Committee intends to continue its vigorous oversight of the coordinated attempt to deprive companies, nonprofit organizations, and scientists of their First Amendment rights and ability to fund and conduct scientific research free from intimidation and threats of prosecution….the Committee requests that you provide the documents and information previously requested in our May 18, 2016, letter,” Friday’s letters state.

Also concerning is the implication that the attorneys general, by looking into whether fossil fuel companies’ scientists were conducting and using the “best science,” will decide what science is valid and what science is invalid.

Concerns about the far-reaching legal actions of the attorneys general are widespread. On Thursday, state 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.”

The letter(s) to the attorneys general can be found HERE.