Comstock Courts Contempt with Attempt to Derail Exxon Investigation

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With Trump’s anticipated roll-backs of the Obama administration’s environmental protection Rules, and with a significant portion of EPA staff on the fiscal chopping block for the upcoming budget, the environment is facing a multi-pronged attack.

Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, in her role on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has the power to play a part in helping to protect the environment. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that she will. Read on, to learn more.

Tomorrow, the full Committee (chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) will hold a hearing titled: Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method. The Hill reports that Smith has invited several witnesses, “including two scientists who made their names opposing the central tenets of man-made climate change, and another who has said its impact on the Earth is overstated.”

The hearing, which begins at 10 AM will be broadcast live on the Committee’s website, and on Youtube.

This Science Committee, of which Ms. Comstock is a proud member, has been working on a project that many people may not know about. For months now, Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and a group of other Republican members have continued to issue subpoenas to a group of state Attorneys General who have been investigating Exxon for potentially fraudulent statements on man-made climate change. Included in this Democrat dragnet are the AGs of Massachusetts and New York: Maura Healey and Eric Schneiderman, respectively.

“This is about facts, and science, and transparency,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who spoke at a press conference alongside New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, former Vice President Al Gore and seven other Attorneys General.

“Fossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be, must be held accountable,” Healey continued, saying there is a “troubling disconnect between what Exxon knew, what industry folks knew and the company and industry chose to share with investors and the American public.”

In a statement earlier this month to explain his motives, Rep. Smith wrote, “The subpoenas asked for communications between Green 20 offices and environmental activists. This would show the level of coordination in this campaign to harass and silence scientists who challenge prevailing climate-change orthodoxies. The attorneys general have refused to comply, hiding behind vague excuses.”

The demand letters have been sent to the AGs in at least 20 states and territories, along with a handful of environmental groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace, the Climate Reality Project, and the Rockefeller Family Fund. While the subpoenas themselves were signed by Smith, alone, the demand letters were signed by 13 Republican Committee Members. Ms. Comstock was not a signatory.

VA10Congressional reached out to Comstock’s staff, in an effort to discover if she, nevertheless, supported the leadership’s efforts. This was the response received:

Falconer email pg 1

falconer email pg 2

The short answer is, yes, Congresswoman Comstock supports these investigations into the Attorneys General and environmental groups, who are in turn, investigating Exxon for alleged fraud.

The investigation into Exxon has begun to yield fruit, which may be spurring Republicans into action. On March 14, news broke that New York AG Eric Schneiderman and his document review team discovered that former Exxon Chairman and current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, used an alias email, “Wayne Tracker,” account for years in order to discuss climate change matters with other Exxon employees. These emails were inadvertently produced by Exxon in response to subpoenas by the AG.

Mr. Schneiderman explained, “Despite the company’s incidental production of approximately 60 documents bearing the ‘Wayne Tracker’ email address, neither Exxon nor its counsel have ever disclosed that this separate email account was a vehicle for Mr. Tillerson’s relevant communications at Exxon, and no documents appear to have been collected from this email account.”

Accidental document productions like these, during the discovery phase of a fraud trial are a giant legal OOPS. Ms. Comstock, as an attorney herself, is clearly aware of this. She should be advising the Committee that this Congressional attempt to derail an active investigation into potential fraud committed by an international corporation is inappropriate, on its face.

Usually, when Ms. Comstock is asked why she votes to approve particularly stomach-turning legislation, such as striking down Rules that prevent wolf and bear cubs from being hunted in their dens while hibernating, she falls back on the explanation, “It’s a states’ rights issue.” Apparently, that doesn’t bother her in this case. Paradoxically, it is ranking minority Member, Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), who pointed out that the right to investigate fraud by state Attorneys General is, in fact, a state’s right.

So far, the AGs have refused to comply with the subpoenas. However, Comstock’s Science Committee continues to send them correspondence, including threatening them with contempt.

As the sustained fight to protect the environment continues, Ms. Comstock will be one to watch. VA-10 may be interested to note that their own Attorney General, Mark Herring, is among the group being threatened by their Representative.

Several states may be risking the contempt of Congress. Worse still, Barbara Comstock is actively courting the contempt of her constituents.

One thought on “Comstock Courts Contempt with Attempt to Derail Exxon Investigation

  1. A “science” committee who does not understand what science is, nor accepts scientific research and outcomes.

    Faith and science are not the same things. The Republicans have constantly demonstrated that they operate more with faith, and that they don’t fully understand science. This is why the right and conservatives have accused science as also being based on “beliefs” and that people who trust science treat it with the same “faith” as they would a religion. In fact, the right has stated that science IS a religion. That attack clearly demonstrates how little Republicans understand science and how knowledge is uncovered and gathered with the “scientific method”.

    There is one main thing to know and understand as to why science is NOT based on faith. There is one main and important question to ask when deciding on whether or not something you know and accept is based on faith or on science.
    That question is; Is it possible that your conclusion is wrong?
    A true scientist will always answer that with a “yes”. The answer is “yes”, because in science we know that what we know and accept today may change in the future with more research, or new information, or different evidence. IOW, science and it’s knowledge is a living thing and can change over time given new information.

    Ask that same question in regard to the belief and faith in the existence of God or Jesus, or of Mohammad as the prophet of God, and the answer will be a resounding “NO”. Why? Because that is the nature of faith. Faith is based on believing in something with the absence of evidence. Thus, a faith based belief can never be wrong unless the person decides that they will alter their whole world view. And for most people their brain won’t allow that.

    This is where Comstock and most of her fellow Republicans some from as they claim to be part of some “science” committee. They are there to impose their beliefs and faith onto a field of study that is not based on beliefs and faith, but on evidence and outcomes that are repeatable, reviewable, and have the opportunity to be changed in the light of new repeatable and reviewable information. Comstock is bringing in “scientists” who challenge the majority of their colleagues in science. There is nothing wrong with real scientists who want to keep others on their toes and on their game, making sure that what science accepts as true is truly repeatable and predictable. However, there are scientists who operate under certain faith based principals and don’t wholly accept the main tenants of science. These are type of scientists that people like Comstock are seeking out and then bringing in to provide “professional” testimony, when in fact what Comstock is actually doing is engaging in finding so called “scientists” who believe as she does, and can thus give her beliefs a green light. That is NOT science nor is it a true representation of what the greater scientific community accepts in regards to climate change. Comstock is doing a Trump like dog and pony show bringing in people who loosely accept the scientific method, while accepting their beliefs as having greater evidence over actual studied, repeatable, and predictive research. If Comstock truly wanted to hear from the real scientific community, then she would bring in scientists the represent the majority and prevailing information and also bring in the minority of scientists who question the prevailing information. That way the committee and especially the American citizens can see the greater picture of what the actual scientific community has to say about climate change. Instead, she has produced a show bringing in only those who will support her and her friends beliefs and faith and present that as fact to the American people. I am NOT fooled by that type of FALSE fact finding. The problem is that there are a lot of Americans who will believe what Comstock will tell them. This produced “science” show fits right into a Trump administration, which is all about protecting profit generation at all costs including the health of future generations. These people don’t care about people, they care about PROFITS, and it’s blatant and clear to those of us who are paying attention.


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