ExxonMobil requested Monday that a federal court throw out a subpoena from New York's attorney general that would force the oil and gas behemoth to turn over decades of documents, which would show whether the company misled investors and the public on the connection between fossil fuel emissions and climate change.
The motion (pdf) filed in Texas federal court asked "to amend [Exxon's] pending lawsuit against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to include New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The litigation seeks to halt their investigations, which the company calls a conspiracy to further their political agenda," according to InsideClimate News, one of the first outlets to break the story of Exxon's climate crimes.
"It's the same strategy as Big Tobacco," said 350.org communications director Jamie Henn in response to Exxon's latest move. "Delay and deceit."
"Exxon has hired an army of lawyers to try and distract from the real story here: that they lied about their knowledge of climate change for decades," Henn added. "Exxon's filing leaves out the fact that they have spent millions of dollars funding misinformation campaigns, faux think tanks, and the elections of climate deniers. They're reacting this way because they know the stakes of this investigation are enormous."
Indeed, the unprecedented investigations into Exxon's disclosures about climate change launched in March by 20 attorneys general have been met with fierce resistance not just from the company itself, but also from oil-industry-backed GOP politicians at local and national levels.
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"Judge Ed Kinkeade has yet to rule on Exxon's requests in the high-profile case," the Guardian writes. "But in a statement to the court last week, Kinkeade said he would be concerned if there was 'bias or prejudgement about what the investigation of Exxon would discover' when Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey issued her subpoena."
The newspaper further reports:
Eric Soufer, spokesman for New York State’s attorney general, accused Exxon of forum-shopping.
"Exxon will do everything in its power to distract, delay, and avoid any investigation into its actions, which may have violated state securities and consumer fraud laws. Exxon’s latest claims in its stunt litigation in Texas are meritless," he said.
"If Exxon is finally held accountable for the damage they've done to our climate, the penalties would be practically unfathomable," commented Henn. "This move will only add momentum to the broader Exxon Knew campaign."