Exxon Tells Judge It Will Continue to Fight Climate Fraud Investigations

The company wants a federal judge in New York to reinstate a discovery order allowing it to depose the two AGs investigating the company over climate change.

Exxon will continue fight to derail climate fraud investigations
Exxon is being investigated by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts over whether its past statements questioning climate science and downplaying risks to the company constituted a form of fraud. Credit: REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Share this article

ExxonMobil has told a federal judge in New York that it intends to continue its vigorous legal challenge to climate change fraud investigations by the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York.

The company wants U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni to reinstate a sweeping discovery order won in a Texas court that would allow it to depose Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, as well as dig into the attorneys generals’ investigative files on the company.

The latest request comes in the wake of a decision last month by a federal judge in Texas to transfer the case on the grounds that New York is the proper jurisdiction for the proceeding to play out. Exxon explained its decision to continue fighting to derail the two investigations in a joint status letter sent to Caproni on Wednesday.

Healey and Schneiderman both rejected Exxon’s view. They said the company’s federal complaint should be dismissed because the proper venue for it to fight the two investigations is not in federal court but in state courts in Massachusetts and New York where cases are pending.

Caproni has scheduled a hearing on April 21 for Exxon and the attorneys general to begin formally arguing their positions.

The New York and Massachusetts investigations focus on whether past statements by Exxon questioning climate change science and downplaying risks to the company constituted a form of fraud against the public and its shareholders.

Those investigations prompted Exxon to go to federal court in Texas last year for an order halting the probes.

The company, which is headquartered in Dallas, found a judge sympathetic to its arguments. In a ruling last year, U.S. District Court Judge Ed Kinkeade ordered Healey and Schneiderman to appear for depositions under questioning by Exxon lawyers.  Kinkeade justified the order by saying he thought Healey, especially, had acted in bad faith when opening her  investigation of Exxon

The two attorneys general argued Exxon lacked jurisdiction to fight the case in the Texas court because it was improper to sue them outside of their jurisdictions. Kinkeade finally relented and ordered the case transferred to New York while at the same time signaling his support for Exxon’s arguments.

Exxon seized on Kinkeade’s suggestions that Healey’s actions reflected  prejudice.

“Judge Kinkeade’s conclusion remains as valid today as it did last fall,” Exxon said in the status letter.