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New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil on Wednesday alleging the company defrauded shareholders and downplayed the risk of climate change to its business.

The suit, first reported by the New York Times, is the culmination of a years-long investigation—colloquially known as the #ExxonKnew probe—into the energy giant's business practices and whether it lied to investors and the public about the risks of climate change.

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The San Francisco Projection Department on Market Street with the #ExxonKnew campaign. Peg Hunter / Flickr

By May Boeve

With Trump and fossil fuel executives in the White House, any shot of powerful and lasting protections for our climate and communities will come from our cities and states. That's why it's so troubling that in California, one of the most progressive places in the U.S., current state Attorney General Xavier Becerra is failing to stand up to ExxonMobil and its ilk.

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Despite an understanding of environmental risk and knowledge that international climate action would hurt their bottom line, Exxon aggressively pursued development of carbon-heavy Canadian tar sands for decades, a new investigation from InsideClimate News finds. The investigation is published on the heels of Friday's Canadian carbon tax announcement that could drive down tar sands pricing even further.

In another blow for Exxon, a judge ordered Monday that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey would not have to appear in Dallas for a deposition.

Healey is being sued with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman by the oil giant for investigating Exxon's internal climate change research, based on InsideClimate News's original 2015 series.

For a deeper dive:

Healey: WSJ, Politico PRO, The Hill, AP, Boston Globe, Boston Herald

Commentary: Huffington Post, David Halperin op-ed

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

By Deirdre Fulton

The Republican-led House Science Committee on Wednesday held an "unusual" hearing, alleged to have been "orchestrated on behalf of ExxonMobil" and criticized as an abuse of congressional power.

Environmentalists and elected officials alike decried the sideshow event, called by committee chair Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in an attempt to justify subpoenas he recently issued to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and eight organizations and foundations regarding their investigations into whether Exxon deceived on the public and its investors on the issue of climate change. All of the entities that have been subpoenaed have refused to comply.

Members of Congress, including Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), spoke out in Washington, DC, on Wednesday against the House Science Committee's hearing. 350.org

Ahead of the hearing on Wednesday morning, climate action group 350.org noted that at least two of Smith's witnesses, law professors Ronald Rotunda and Elizabeth Price Foley, have significant ties to fossil fuel industry-funded groups such as the Heartland Institute and the Koch-funded Cato Institute.

What's more, 350.org and others pointed out, Smith himself has received hundreds of thousands in donations from the fossil fuel industry over the years—including $24,770 directly from ExxonMobil—"making oil and gas his most generous industry contributor throughout his career."

That's why it's "no surprise he's willing to trample our First Amendment rights in his mad dash to their defense," 350.org executive director May Boeve said Wednesday. "The bottom line is that this hearing is nothing but Smith's attempt to distract us from the real issue: Exxon knew the truth about climate change and Exxon lied."

"This hearing, orchestrated on behalf of ExxonMobil, is a perversion of this important congressional procedure and a complete distraction," added Tamar Lawrence-Samuel of the group Corporate Accountability International.

"The only thing this hearing will prove is that Rep. Smith is capable of cherry-picking a panel of witnesses that validate his views," Lawrence-Samuel said. "Mr. Smith and his denialist colleagues on the House Science Committee are once again using our government to carry out the head-in-sand agenda of their Big Oil campaign funders and it needs to stop. It's time for Rep. Smith to end this charade and let AGs do what they were elected to do."

Watch the hearing below (starting at minute 26:00):

People were tweeting about the hearing and its implications under the hashtag #ExxonKnew, which itself grew out of dual investigations that showed the oil giant spent decades and millions of dollars misleading the public about the threat posed by global warming.

"But instead of investigating ExxonMobil's decades-long deception on climate change, Republicans in charge of the House Science Committee are attacking attorneys general and nonprofits who are trying to protect the public by holding ExxonMobil accountable for their fraud and deceit," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday. "The American people—who are facing the toll of climate change every single day—deserve leaders in Congress who believe in science. We deserve leaders who will protect the people, rather than ExxonMobil."

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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