California Lawmakers Press for Renewed Exxon Climate Investigation

State Democrats urge new state attorney general to continue probing possible climate fraud by Exxon and other oil companies.

New California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is being urged to pursue an Exxon investigation
New California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is being urged to pursue a climate investigation of Exxon. Credit: Getty Images

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California’s new attorney general is being urged to continue a climate fraud investigation of ExxonMobil by a host of the state’s Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives who say the oil giant and other fossil fuel companies have misled the public regarding climate change.

Eighteen representatives have asked Attorney General Xavier Becerra to build on an investigation they say was opened by his predecessor, Kamala Harris, into early research by Exxon and other fossil fuel companies that confirmed the risks of climate change. The companies went on to support campaigns that muddied the scientific consensus on global warming due to fossil fuels.

“You now have a unique opportunity to play a leading role in that effort, and we urge you to work to hold Exxon Mobil and others accountable for their longstanding, and potentially illegal, cover-up of the dangers of climate change,” according to the letter signed by the representatives.

“We urge you to vigorously and publicly continue the state’s investigation into what ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies knew about the dangers of climate change, and what they did with that vital information.”

Becerra is a Democrat who served 12 terms in the U.S. House before becoming California’s attorney general last month, replacing Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate.  (He is one of 15 state attorneys general who has joined in a friend-of-the-court brief opposing President Trump’s travel ban.)

Becerra did not respond to a request to comment.

Although Harris never acknowledged an Exxon investigation, she was one of 17 Democratic state attorneys general who formed the AGs United For Clean Power coalition last year, vowing to hold the fossil fuel industry responsible for climate change.  

Two coalition members, Eric Schneiderman of New York and Maura Healey of Massachusetts, have launched investigations of Exxon under their states’ consumer fraud statutes.  Exxon is waging a vigorous court battle to derail those investigations.