Exxon asks U.S. court to throw out subpoena in climate change inquiry

exxonExxon Mobil Corp asked a federal court on Wednesday to throw out a subpoena that would force the oil company to hand over decades of documents as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into whether it misled investors about climate change risks.

In its filing in a U.S. district court, Exxon said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey overreached with her April subpoena and that it violated constitutional amendments on free speech, unreasonable search and seizure and equal protection.

The Massachusetts attorney general’s office said it was reviewing the motion.

The move by the world’s largest publicly traded oil company is the latest in its high-stakes battle with a coalition of state attorneys general who said in March they would go after Exxon and try to force Congress to tackle climate change.

Exxon also pushed back against a raft of shareholder proposals last month asking it to show how it will react to the Paris agreement among 195 governments that aims to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) by curbing carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

The subpoena from Healey comes amid claims by prosecutors that Exxon executives contradicted papers published by company scientists about the threats of climate change. The subpoena also seeks any Exxon communications with free-market business groups that doubt the efficacy of clamping down on emissions or climate science itself.

Exxon said in its filing the subpoena seeks documents outside of the statute of limitations and that activist groups encouraged opening inquiries.

“The great irony here is that we’ve acknowledged the risks of climate change for more than a decade, have supported a carbon tax as the better policy option and spent more than $7 billion on research and technologies to reduce emissions,” said Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers. “It should make people question what this is really all about.”

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