Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

'Victory': Supreme Court Rejects Exxon's Appeal, Time to Fork Over Climate Docs

Energy
'Victory': Supreme Court Rejects Exxon's Appeal, Time to Fork Over Climate Docs

Activists representing more than 350 environmental, civic, and college student organizations in Downtown Manhattan in February 2017.


Pacific Press / Contributor / LightRocket / Getty Images

Massachusetts' Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey declared "victory" on Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected ExxonMobil's attempt to derail her office's probe into whether the fossil fuel giant misled investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change.

The justices declined to hear Exxon's appeal of an April ruling by Massachusetts' highest court, Reuters reported.


The decision effectively affirmed Healy's authority to investigate Exxon and to order the company to hand over decades of internal records related to the company's understanding of global warming.

This victory "clears the way for our office to investigate Exxon's conduct toward consumers and investors," Healey tweeted after the ruling.

"The public deserves answers from this company about what it knew about the impacts of burning fossil fuels, and when," she added.

Healey first issued a civil investigative demand on Exxon in April 2016 in order to seek "information regarding whether Exxon may have misled consumers and/or investors with respect to the impact of fossil fuels on climate change, and climate change-driven risks to Exxon's business."

The oil company repeatedly tried to block the AG's investigation in lower courts but never prevailed. Today's rejection from the nation's top court likely means that Exxon must comply with Healy's demands.

Environmentalists, including 350.org U.S. communications manager Thanu Yakupitiyage, celebrated the news.

"This latest decision brings great momentum in the fight to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for causing the climate crisis," Yakupitiyage said in an issued statement. "We thank Attorney General Healey for her vigilant leadership in standing up for people over polluters."

In October, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood officially filed a lawsuit against Exxon alleging the company defrauded shareholders and downplayed the risk of climate change to its business.

Underwood's office said in a press release that a years-long investigation uncovered an alleged fraudulent scheme to systematically and repeatedly deceive investors about the significant impact that future climate change regulations could have on the company's assets and value. The alleged fraud reached the highest levels of the company, including former chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson.

The probes from the Massachusetts and New York attorneys general were launched after groundbreaking investigations by InsideClimate News and The Los Angeles Times in 2015, which reported that Exxon scientists and executives understood for decades that its products drive global warming.

"Today's decision is yet another defeat for Exxon in their fight to hide the fact that they have known for 50 years that their products cause climate change," Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, said in an issued statement. "Deception and delay are Exxon's core climate strategies. Today the court dealt the company yet another defeat in their fight to hide the fact that they have known for 50 years that their products cause climate change."

Exxon has dismissed these allegations as "meritless," Reuters reported.

Reindeers at their winter location in northern Sweden on Feb. 4, 2020, near Ornskoldsvik. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP via Getty Images

Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Great Lakes, including Lake Michigan, experienced some of their warmest temperatures on record in the summer of 2020. Ken Ilio / Moment / Getty Images

Heatwaves are not just distinct to the land. A recent study found lakes are susceptible to temperature rise too, causing "lake heatwaves," The Independent reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Starfish might appear simple creatures, but the way these animals' distinctive biology evolved was, until recently, unknown. FangXiaNuo / Getty Images

By Aaron W Hunter

A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.

Read More Show Less
U.S. President Joe Biden sits in the Oval Office as he signs a series of orders at the White House in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2021. Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

President Joe Biden officially took office Wednesday, and immediately set to work reversing some of former President Donald Trump's environmental policies.

Read More Show Less
Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

In many schools, the study of climate change is limited to the science. But at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, students in one class also learn how to take climate action.

Read More Show Less