Exxon Mobil Corp has been ordered to give the Massachusetts attorney general decades word of documents that reveal its views on climate change. This order comes from Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Heidie Brieger, who refused the company’s request for exemption.
Attorney general Maura Healey took to twitter to share the legal victory, “This order affirms our longstanding authority to investigate fraud. @exxonmobil must come clean about what it knew about climate change.”
— Maura Healey (@maura_healey) January 12, 2017
Healey is one of two state prosecutors investigating the world’s largest publicly traded oil company. The other is her New York counterpart, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Both are investigating whether Exxon misled its shareholders and the public about what it knew about climate change.
Separate reports by Inside Climate News, an online news publication, and the Los Angeles Times show that Exxon knowingly tried to downplay the risks of climate change, despite concerns raised by its own scientists decades earlier.
Former Exxon Chief Executive Rex Tillerson appeared for a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing the day this news first broke. The confirmation was for his nomination as secretary of state by President-elect Donald Trump.
In response to a question during the hearing on if he believed human activity was adding to climate change, Tillerson answered neither yes or no, “The increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are having an effect. Our abilities to predict that effect are very limited.”
Alan Jeffers, spokesman for Exxon, said that the company was “reviewing the decision to determine next steps.” Kenneth P. Cohen, vice president for public affairs at Exxon, said on Thursday that “We unequivocally reject the allegations that Exxon Mobil has suppressed climate change research,” citing the mainstream scientific studies it has funded since the 1970s on climate.
At a news conference organized by Schneiderman, former Vice President Al Gore said, “We cannot continue to allow the fossil fuel industry to treat our atmosphere like an open sewer or mislead the public about the impact they have on the health of our people and the health of our planet.”