Quantcast
Climate

Exxon Sues Massachusetts Attorney General to Block Climate Fraud Investigation

ExxonMobil filed a lawsuit against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in an effort to block a subpoena that would require the oil and gas giant to hand over 40 years of internal communications relating to whether the company misrepresented its knowledge of climate change to investors.

The 33-page injunction was filed in federal district court in Fort Worth, Texas on Wednesday.

In the searing complaint, Exxon called the investigation a "fishing expedition" that is "nothing more than a weak pretext for an unlawful exercise of government power to further political objectives."

“Attorney General Healey is abusing the power of government to silence a speaker she disfavors,” the complaint states.

Exxon believes Healey’s April 19 subpoena violates its constitutional rights on free speech, unreasonable search and seizure and equal protection, Reuters reported. The company seeks either an injunction to halt the investigation or for the court to rule that the investigation is without legal merit.

In response to the lawsuit, Healey’s office said that its investigation is "based not on speculation, but on inconsistencies about climate change in Exxon documents which have been made public."

"The First Amendment does not protect false and misleading statements in the marketplace," Healey's communications director Cyndi Roy Gonzalez said in a statement provided to EcoWatch.

The Boston Herald reported that Healey’s broad subpoena is also 
demanding communications between Exxon and 12 think tanks that are critical of climate change, as well as information on whether Exxon funded the groups.

According to the Herald, Exxon does not believe it should respond to the subpoena because of a four-year statute of limitations on Healey’s claims. It also has not sold fuel, owned a retail location or sold securities in Massachusetts during that time.

"Exxon’s assertion that we cannot investigate it because the company has not engaged in business here in Massachusetts is completely preposterous and is a clear attempt to delay and distract from the real issues," Gonzalez countered. "We will continue to fight aggressively on the basis of our clear legal authority to obtain the information that we need to ensure the Massachusetts public is protected."

Exxon has brought a similar suit against Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker in the same Fort Worth district court. The company also says that Walker’s subpoena demanding internal climate change-related records violates its free speech and should be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures.

"For many monthsExxon Mobil has engaged in an unprecedented effort to limit the ability of state attorneys general to investigate fraud and unfair business practices and to protect Massachusetts consumers, investors and the public," Gonzalez said.

Healey and Walker are among 20 state Attorneys General that have launched a multi-state effort to investigate and prosecute Exxon and other industry giants for fraud and suppression of key climate science.

The coalition was convened by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who in November announced a state investigation into Exxon after reporting revealed that the oil giant had for decades known and suppressed evidence about the dangers that fossil fuels posed to the environment and then purposely disseminated false information in order to boost its profits.

InsideClimate News reported that Exxon has been cooperating with Schneiderman's own subpoena, and has turned over thousands of pages of documents.

"It is deeply troubling that Exxon has taken the extraordinary step of refusing to comply with a lawful subpoena sent in the course of a serious fraud investigation," Schneiderman spokesman Matt Mittenthal told EcoWatch in response to the suit against Healey. "The law is clear: The First Amendment does not give any corporation the right to commit fraud."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Here’s How We Get to 100% Renewable Energy

Wall Street Journal Willing to Print Truth About Climate Change if You Pay Them

World’s Biggest Banks Are Driving Climate Change, Pumping Billions Into Extreme Fossil Fuels

Court Documents Show Peabody Energy Funded Dozens of Climate Denial Groups

Show Comments ()
Sponsored

World's First Collapsible, Reusable Straw Fits Right On Your Keychain

Straws suck—literally and figuratively. Americans throw away 500 million of these single-use plastics everyday day, clogging landfills, polluting oceans and causing harm to aquatic creatures.

And while reusable straws made of bamboo or metal already exist on the market, the Santa Fe-based team at FinalStraw have invented the world's first collapsible, reusable straw you can conveniently attach to your keychain so you won't forget to bring your own when you're on the go.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
The 2018 London Marathon dropped air pollution on one street along its route by 89 percent. Kleon3 / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

London Marathon Leads to 89% Drop in Air Pollution

Global Action Plan, a non-profit organization dedicated to tackling "throw away culture" and the impact it has on humans and the planet, discovered an unexpected health benefit to running marathons.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
March For The Ocean

Why It’s Time We March for the Ocean

By Sylvia Earle & David Helvarg

We've recently seen the remarkable capacity of youth to mobilize and to inspire us with a message of change in their march against gun violence. Theirs is also a generation equipped with technologies not just to connect to each other but to better understand our blue planet in ways unimaginable even a generation ago. These include satellite tagging and following of migratory species such as whales, sharks and tuna and accessing the deep ocean with both autonomous robots and human occupied submersibles that allow us to dive into the history of our Earth.

Keep reading... Show less

Study Reveals Dangerous Antarctic Feedback Loop

A new study of the melting patterns of glaciers in Antarctica provides real-world evidence for one of the more troubling model-based climate change predictions, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The study, published April 18 in Science Advances, found that fresh water melting off of glaciers in some regions of Antarctica caused a layer of cold, fresh water to float above warmer, saltier water, both slowing ocean circulation and melting lower parts of the ice sheets.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy
GE's Haliade-X 12-megawatt offshore wind turbine

World's Largest Offshore Wind Turbine Can Power 16,000 Homes

The world's largest and most powerful offshore wind turbine will test its wings at an innovative facility in northeast England.

The 12-megawatt Haliade-X, developed by GE Renewable Energy, stands 853 feet tall, or about three times the height of the Flat Iron building in New York City. Its massive rotor diameter of 722 feet is roughly the tower height of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge above water.

Keep reading... Show less
Water overflowing the Oroville dam spillover in 2017. William Croyle, California Department of Water Resources

Climate Change Could Increase 'Whiplash' Between Wet and Dry Years in California, Leading to More Disasters

California has had a rough eight years. From 2010 to 2016, it endured the worst drought in its recorded history. Then, massive rainfall in 2016 and 2017 forced 18,000 Californians to evacuate their homes as the emergency spillway of the Oroville Dam was threatened due to erosion. Summer 2017 also saw the worst wildfire in the state's history.

But research published in Nature Climate Change Monday found that, if humans don't act to halt climate change, California's recent sequence of catastrophes could become the new normal.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Pixabay

Will Scientists Develop a Zero-Waste Cell Phone?

By Marlene Cimons

How often do you swap out your old smartphone for a new one? Every two or three years? Every year? Today, phone companies make it easy with deals to trade in your old phone for the newest version. But those discarded phones are becoming a huge source of waste, with many components ending up in landfills or incinerators.

When a cell phone gets tossed, only a few materials get recycled, mostly useful metals like gold, silver, copper and palladium, which can be used in manufacturing other products. But other materials—especially fiberglass and resins—which make up the bulk of cell phones' circuit boards, often end up at sites where they can leak dangerous chemicals into our groundwater, soil and air.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
formulanone / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Federal Court: Reinstate Fines for Gas Guzzlers

By Andrea Germanos

A federal court on Monday stopped another of the Trump administration's attacks on clean air—its indefinite delay of stricter penalties for automakers producing vehicle fleets that don't meet fuel efficiency standards.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!