A group of Democratic attorneys general who promised to work together to fight climate change may be trying to avoid public scrutiny of that work.

The Energy and Environment Legal Institute released an agreement among 17 Democratic attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, that the right-leaning think tank says is trying to skirt public records laws.

The common interest agreement signed by all the attorneys general included a provision making all documents regarding the climate pledge to be marked confidential. That would keep all of those documents blocked from any Freedom of Information Act requests.

In addition, the agreement would keep communications between the attorneys general and outside environmentalist groups secret.

"It's baffling that these AGs feel they can trample on their own states' public records laws," said David W. Schnare, legal general counsel at the institute. "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."

The states whose attorneys general signed the agreement are: California, Connecticut, Washington, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Vermont as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The agreement has come under intense scrutiny following investigations started by Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker.

Walker subpoenaed Exxon Mobil and the Competitive Enterprise Institute to find out what the company and the group knew about the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. Following intense blowback amid accusations of trying to criminalize free speech, Walker eventually withdrew the subpoenas.

Healey and Schneiderman were subpoenaed by House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith for documents related to their subpoenas served to Exxon Mobil. Smith made similar accusations against them as were made against Walker, that they were criminalizing free speech and science that could have shown climate change isn't real.

Healey and Schneiderman have not backed down and refused to comply with the subpoenas.

Most of the other Democratic attorneys general have not taken any action on the pact.

"Attorneys general are supposed to be the ultimate guardians of the law in their states," said Craig Richardson, legal executive director at the institute. "Instead, these particular AGs have abandoned this critical role and are actually secretly colluding to prosecute those who dare disagree with a political 'climate change' agenda pushed by their benefactors, making this action particularly egregious."