Exxon is fighting back against subpoenas filed by 16 state attorneys general who accuse the company of state securities violations and consumer fraud in their views on climate change.
Last Thursday, the company won a significant victory in Massachusetts. And now they’ve filed an injunction request, accusing the AGs of mounting a“coordinated effort to silence and intimidate one side of the public policy debate on how to address climate change.”
The filing represents a more aggressive approach for Exxon, which has fought the Massachusetts civil investigative demand while cooperating with the New York subpoena issued last year, turning over more than 1 million documents so far.
Since then, however, the oil and gas giant has gained the upper hand in court, most recently with Thursday’s ruling by a federal judge ordering Ms. Healey to submit to discovery over concerns about her “bad faith” in pursuing the investigation.
The order could allow Exxon to obtain emails, phone records and other internal communications related to her probe.
“Attorney General Healey’s actions leading up to the issuance of the [civil investigative demand] causes the Court concern and presents the Court with the question of whether Attorney General Healey issued the CID with bias or prejudgment about what the investigation of Exxon would discover,” U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade said in his order.
His ruling cited concerns about the “anticipatory nature” of her statements, including her comments at a March 29 press conference with former Vice President Al Gore and 16 other attorneys general announcing the launch of a joint prosecutorial effort called AGs United for Clean Power targeting fossil-fuel companies and their supporters.
At the press event, Ms. Healy vowed to combat climate change in her role as an elected official and said that “[f]ossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be, must be, held accountable.”
In its Monday filing in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, Exxon said the Democrats “are incapable of serving as “disinterested prosecutors required by the Constitution” as a result of their “improper political bias.”
“Attorney General Schneiderman has publicly accused Exxon Mobil of engaging in a ‘massive securities fraud’ without any basis whatsoever, and Attorney General Healey declared, before her investigation even began, that she knew how it would end: with a finding that Exxon Mobil violated the law,” Exxon said in the amended complaint.
Ms. Healey and Mr. Schneiderman have defended their investigations as legitimate inquiries into whether Exxoncommitted fraud by misleading the public about its climate change research.
Jamie Henn, a spokesman for the climate change group 350.org, defended the state probes, saying Exxon has used “the same strategy as Big Tobacco: delay and deceit” and predicting the filing “will only add momentum to the broaderExxon Knew campaign.”
The fix has been in all along as the “investigation” was never meant to go to trial, only to force a multi-billion dollar settlement. It’s interesting that the activist brings up “Big Tobacco” to compare the investigation to because that’s the template that will be used by radical activists to invade the deep pockets of multinationals on whatever issue they wish to politicize.
It’s hard to take the side of Big Oil, but in this case a lot of little people are being persecuted as well. The Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute are just two think tanks that have run afoul of the climate change hysterics. The stakes for them are a matter of survival.
No doubt New York AG Schneiderman will continue his witch hunt. Common sense is not a strong point of the global warming crowd. And because he and most of the other AG’s won’t stop, Exxon will undoubtedly reach the point where attorneys’ fees and bad publicity will force them to capitulate and settle.
Just as the attorney generals planned for.