Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Court Tosses Exxon's 'Implausible' Lawsuit Seeking to Stop Climate Probe

Popular
Court Tosses Exxon's 'Implausible' Lawsuit Seeking to Stop Climate Probe
Johnny Silvercloud / Flickr

A federal judge on Thursday threw out Exxon Mobil's lawsuit that sought to derail New York and Massachusetts' probe into whether the oil giant misled investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change.

Exxon tried to convince U.S. District Court Judge Valerie A. Caproni that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey were infringing on the company's free speech rights and the AGs were pursuing politically motivated investigations.


But in a searing ruling, Caproni called the company's claims "implausible" and "a wild stretch of logic."

"The relief requested by Exxon in this case is extraordinary: Exxon has asked two federal courts—first in Texas, now in New York—to stop state officials from conducting duly-authorized investigations into potential fraud," she wrote. "It has done so on the basis of extremely thin allegations and speculative inferences."

Exxon's allegations rested on statements made at the AGs' United for Clean Power press conference in March 2016. The company tried to paint Schneiderman and Healey's participation in the event as a evidence of their political bias against the company.

However, Caproni dismissed that argument, which she considered a result of "cherry-picking snippets from the transcript of the press conference."

"Some statements made at the press conference were perhaps hyperbolic, but nothing that was said can fairly be read to constitute declaration of a political vendetta against Exxon," she wrote.

The company's claims that the AGs "are pursuing bad faith investigations in order to violate Exxon's constitutional rights are implausible," the judge continued. She called it a "a wild stretch of logic" for Exxon to contend that the AGs' comments about public confusion relative to climate change showed any intent to "chill dissenting speech."

Caproni dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning Exxon cannot file it again.

Schneiderman and Healey celebrated the ruling.

"I am pleased with the court's decision to dismiss Exxon's frivolous, nonsensical lawsuit that wrongfully attempted to thwart a serious state law enforcement investigation into the company," Schneiderman said.

"At every turn in our investigation, Exxon has tried to distract and deflect from the facts at hand. But we will not be deterred: our securities fraud investigation into Exxon continues."

Healey said, "Exxon has run a scorched earth campaign to avoid answering our basic questions about the company's awareness of climate change. Today, a federal judge has thoroughly rejected the company's obstructionist and meritless arguments to block our investigation."

"This is a turning point in our investigation and a victory for the people."

Exxon spokesman Scott Silvestri told Reuters the company is evaluating its legal options.

"We believe the risk of climate change is real and we want to be part of the solution," he added. "We've invested about $8 billion on energy efficiency and low-emission technologies such as carbon capture and next generation biofuels."

Fridays for Future climate activists demonstrate in Bonn, Germany on Sept. 25, 2020. Roberto Pfeil / picture alliance via Getty Images

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2019 and have continued climbing this year, despite lockdowns and other measures to curb the pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday, citing preliminary data.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Argentine black-and-white tegu is an invasive species that can reach four-feet long. Mark Newman / Getty Images

These black-and-white lizards could be the punchline of a joke, except the situation is no laughing matter.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Smoke covers the skies over downtown Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 9, 2020. Diego Diaz / Icon Sportswire

By Isabella Garcia

September in Portland, Oregon, usually brings a slight chill to the air and an orange tinge to the leaves. This year, it brought smoke so thick it burned your throat and made your eyes strain to see more than 20 feet in front of you.

Read More Show Less
A rare rusty-spotted cat is spotted in the wild in 2015. David V. Raju / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 4.0

Misunderstanding the needs of how to protect three rare cat species in Southeast Asia may be a driving factor in their extinction, according to a recent study.

Read More Show Less
Cyclone Gati on Sunday had sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. NASA - EOSDIS Worldview

Cyclone Gati made landfall in Somalia Sunday as the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, the first time that a hurricane-strength storm has made landfall in the East African country, NPR reported.

Read More Show Less