Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

'Wow Wow Wow... Huge News' as New York Sues ExxonMobil for Defrauding Investors by Hiding Climate Threat

"The New York Attorney General is standing up for investors who may have been swindled, and indirectly for the seven billion of us who will suffer from Exxon's lies."

Jessica Corbett

Activists protested after it was made public that ExxonMobil for years deliberately tried to hide the truth about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo: Johnny Silvercloud/cc/flickr)

After a three-year probe and amid mounting demands that the fossil fuel industry be held accountable for driving the climate crisis, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood on Wednesday filed suit against ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil and gas company, for defrauding investors by downplaying the financial threat of regulations crafted to mitigate human-caused global warming.

"Big oil may finally face some consequences for its role in wrecking the climate," declared 350.org co-founded Bill McKibben. "The New York Attorney General is standing up for investors who may have been swindled, and indirectly for the seven billion of us who will suffer from Exxon's lies."

"Investors put their money and their trust in Exxon—which assured them of the long-term value of their shares, as the company claimed to be factoring the risk of increasing climate change regulation into its business decisions. Yet as our investigation found, Exxon often did no such thing," Underwood said in a statement.

New York investigators, she said, concluded that "Exxon built a facade to deceive investors into believing that the company was managing the risks of climate change regulation to its business when, in fact, it was intentionally and systematically underestimating or ignoring them, contrary to its public representations."

The complaint (pdf) details years of troubling actions by Exxon's leaders—including former CEO Rex Tillerson, who spent more than 40 years at the company prior to his short-lived tenure as the President Donald Trump's first secretary of state.

The state's probe, launched by Underwood's predecessor Eric Schneiderman, came to light in 2015 after the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News reported that the company had "conducted cutting-edge climate research decades ago and then, without revealing all that it had learned, worked at the forefront of climate denial."

Since those reports, Exxon has been named in multiple climate liability lawsuits brought by city, county, and state officials across the country as advocacy groups and the public have increasingly pressured politicians to hold oil and gas companies accountable for contributing to the climate crisis and lying about the devastating long-term impacts of dirty energy.

Exxon's "colossal climate denial operation"—which was also detailed in a Harvard study published last year—"significantly impacted how the climate change debate played out in business, science, and politics," noted Naomi Ages of Greenpeace USA.

And as Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, observed, "Climate change deception is central to Exxon's business model." The company pocketed immense profits while it "bankrolled a 30-year, multi-million denial campaign, manufacturing doubt about climate science when it knew there was none."

While Exxon continues to make money from oil and gas production, coastal communities are facing the mounting financial and environmental costs of the climate crisis. Wiles, like many others who support the ongoing litigation against fossil fuel firms, said Wednesday that Exxon "needs to pay investors they misled and the cities and states now facing massive climate expenses."

In addition to making the companies pay for the consequences of their products, climate campaigners are demanding a worldwide transition to renewable energy. Referencing the recent IPCC report that stated the international community must take rapid action to prevent climate catastrophe, Ages pointed out: "The stakes have never been higher in capping carbon emissions."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Watching US With Horror, European Groups Push Leaders to Strengthen Abortion Rights

"This is an important moment for leaders across Europe who are committed to reproductive rights to lead by example and galvanize action in their own countries," said one campaigner.

Jake Johnson ·


Progressive Delia Ramirez Defeats Billionaire PAC Money to Win Illinois Primary

"Billionaires and their super PACs are spending millions to defeat progressive candidates," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, who endorsed Ramirez. "They have the money, but we've got the people."

Jake Johnson ·


'Witness Intimidation. Clear as Day': Jan. 6 Panel Teases Evidence of Cover-Up Effort

"Add witness tampering to the laundry list of crimes Trump and his allies must be charged with," said professor Robert Reich.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Bombshell After Bombshell' Dropped as Jan. 6 Testimony Homes In On Trump Guilt

"Hutchinson's testimony of the deeply detailed plans of January 6 and the inaction of those in the White House in response to the violence show just how close we came to a coup," said one pro-democracy organizer.

Brett Wilkins ·


Mark Meadows 'Did Seek That Pardon, Yes Ma'am,' Hutchinson Testifies

The former aide confirmed that attorney Rudy Giuliani also sought a presidential pardon related to the January 6 attack.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo