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Exxon Sues Feds Over $2 Million Fine

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ExxonMobil filed suit against the federal government last week, claiming that a $2 million fine levied against the company by the Treasury Department is "unlawful" and "capricious."

The Treasury Department fined Exxon Thursday morning, alleging that the oil giant displayed "reckless disregard" of U.S.-Russian sanctions in its dealings with Russian company Rosneft in 2014 under CEO Rex Tillerson.


The Treasury Department's suit highlights particularly problematic deals with Rosneft in 2014, when Exxon was under now-Sec. of State Tillerson's guidance. The suit comes as the House prepares to pass new sanctions legislation targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea. The compromise bill gives energy companies some wiggle room to participate in energy projects with Russian stakeholders.

As reported by the New York Times:

"The rationale for the lawsuit appears to go beyond the financial impact of the fine. Exxon feels that its reputation is at stake and that the threat of more sanctions, potentially costlier, is looming.

Treasury and Exxon have been sparring for years over the company's ability to do business with Russia. The Trump administration has recently been trying to show its mettle with a flurry of sanctions announcements amid concerns that Mr. Trump may soften those already enacted. At the same time, a Republican-controlled Congress is threatening to increase Russia sanctions, which could cost the energy industry billions of dollars."

"It's a fascinating dynamic playing itself out," Peter Kucik, a former official in Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, told the Times. "It would be difficult to script this."

For a deeper dive:

Exxon suit: New York Times, The Hill, NPR, CNBC, AP. Sanctions & energy companies: Politico Morning Energy

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

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