Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Massachusetts AG Criticizes Exxon for Continuing Climate Deceit

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey stayed on the offensive in a legal battle with Exxon. (Credit: Reuters) Click to Enlarge.
In the latest volley of her legal skirmish with ExxonMobil, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the company continues to mislead the public about the risks of climate change.

"[I]t appears that Exxon may have failed to disclose fully its knowledge of the threats posed by climate change to its businesses and that Exxon continues to make apparently misleading and deceptive statements to investors and consumers," Healey said in one of two motions filed with a federal court in Texas.

For more than three decades, the company understood climate-driven risk to its businesses, "yet, Exxon continues to maintain that the future is bright for its investors," attorneys for Healey argued in court briefs filed Monday.  

As evidence of the company's lack of candor, Healey cited an Exxon statement to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this year and a report the company prepared for shareholders in 2014 that said, "We are confident that none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become 'stranded.'"

Investors face financial peril if substantial portions of Exxon's vast fossil fuel reserves are unable to be burned because of the international climate agreement limiting carbon dioxide emissions to stabilize global warming.

"Those assets—valued in the billions—will be stranded, placing shareholder value at risk," said one of the briefs.

Healey has argued that is reason enough to investigate Exxon under the state's Consumer Protection Act.  Exxon is challenging the probe with a suit filed in federal court in Texas.

Healey's office is seeking to have that case dismissed because it argues the company should be making its challenge in Massachusetts, not in Texas.

Healey's office also filed a brief opposing  Exxon's request for an injunction of the state's civil investigative demand, a fact-finding tool similar to a subpoena.  That ordered Exxon to turn over records related to its climate change knowledge and how that information was portrayed to Massachusetts consumers.

Exxon will now be given the opportunity to reply in court, which means it may be months before any rulings are made.

Read more at Massachusetts AG Criticizes Exxon for Continuing Climate Deceit

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