ExxonMobil Seeks to Silence Climate Inquiry

     BOSTON (CN) – ExxonMobil has asked a Massachusetts court to halt state Attorney General Maura Healey’s investigation of its internal discussions about climate change.
     Healey’s inquiry is part of a national effort by several attorneys general to combat climate change.
     In April, she filed a civil investigative demand (CID) on ExxonMobil seeking internal company documents that reference climate change and potential causes, such as fossil fuel.
     The investigatory action from state officials follows the release of company documents from the energy giant that allegedly show the company has been aware of the environmental impact of increased CO2 emissions.
     In a petition filed in Suffolk Superior Court on June 16, ExxonMobil alleges Healey is using her office in a cynical effort to go after it as part of a larger, national anti-fossil fuel political campaign.
     “Since at least 2012, these activists sought to influence the debate surrounding climate change by gaining access to ExxonMobil’s internal documents with the hope of using those documents to discredit the company and other political opponents,” said the complaint.
     ExxonMobil challenged the legitimacy of Healey’s demand for documents by claiming the company has not sold fossil fuel-derived products to Massachusetts consumers within the applicable statute of limitations, nor has the company sold any securities in the state for the last five years.
     ExxonMobil also claimed that Healey has no jurisdiction to demand the release of documents because the company is not based in Massachusetts.
     In addition, the company claims Healey’s demand requires the reproduction of all internal documents that pertain to climate change from the last 40 years, creating an undue burden on ExxonMobil.
     “Complying with the CID’s demands would require ExxonMobil to collect, review and produce several millions of pages of documents and would cost millions of dollars,” the complaint says.
     In the event that the court does not halt the investigation, ExxonMobil demands that Healey recuse herself and her office due to her perceived bias against fossil fuel companies as an advocate against climate change.
     Healey’s office pushed back at ExxonMobil’s complaint with a defiant statement vowing to press on with its investigation.
     “For many months, Exxon 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,” said Cyndi Roy Gonzalez, Healey’s communications director. “Our investigation is based, not on speculation, but on inconsistencies about climate change in Exxon documents which have been made public.”
     Gonzalez went on to say, “The First Amendment does not protect false and misleading statements in the marketplace.
     “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. 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,” she said.

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