Exxon Fires Back at Climate-Change Probe

exxonExxon Mobil Corp. went to court Wednesday to challenge a government investigation of whether the company conspired to cover up its understanding of climate change, a sign the energy company is gearing up for a drawn-out legal battle with environmentalists and officials on the politically charged issue.

The company filed court papers in Texas seeking to block a subpoena issued in March by the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, one of several government officials pursuing Exxon. Wednesday’s filing argues that the subpoena is an unwarranted fishing expedition into Exxon’s internal records that violates its constitutional rights.

“The chilling effect of this inquiry, which discriminates based on viewpoint to target one side of an ongoing policy debate, strikes at protected speech at the core of the First Amendment,” the filing says.

Exxon also dismisses the notion that there is any suggestion of a crime, saying Attorney General Claude Earl Walker “issued the subpoena without the reasonable suspicion required by law and based on an ulterior motive to silence those who express views on climate change with which they disagree.”

A request for comment to the U.S. Virgin Islands’ attorney general’s office wasn’t immediately returned.

In the subpoena, the U.S. Virgin Islands told Exxon it could be violating two state laws, by purportedly obtaining money under false pretenses and conspiring to do so.

Both sides see this as a pivotal moment in a growing campaign by environmentalists to deploy a legal strategy used against tobacco companies in the 1990s by arguing that oil companies have long hidden what they know about climate change. Tobacco firms’ finances and credibility were badly damaged by lawsuits accusing them of hiding the truth about their products.

A key meeting in the new push unfolded in January behind closed doors at a Manhattan office building. The session brought together about a dozen people, including Kenny Bruno, a veteran of environmental campaigns, and Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, two activists who helped lead the successful fight to block the Keystone XL pipeline.

The new campaign’s goals include “to establish in public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm,” according to an agenda of the meeting viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

This new legal strategy stems in part from environmentalists’ frustration at what they see as the inadequacy of recent climate deals. Their hope is to encourage state attorneys general and the U.S. Justice Department to launch investigations and lawsuits that ultimately will change Exxon’s behavior, force it to pay big damages and drive public attention to climate change.

“It’s about helping the larger public understand the urgencies of finding climate solutions,” said Lee Wasserman, director of the Rockefeller Family Fund, which hosted the January meeting. “It’s not really about Exxon.”

Exxon and its supporters dismiss the comparison with tobacco. Cigarettes are a harmful, addictive product used by a portion of the public, they say, while fossil fuels are fundamental to the world economy.

In Wednesday’s filing, Exxon’s lawyers say the company has confirmed for more than a decade that it sees the risks of climate change, and that it has publicly advocated for a carbon tax as the best way to regulate carbon emissions.

A key part of the activists’ strategy is to seek documents that show otherwise: that Exxon, despite knowing the dangers of climate change, has sought to challenge the scientific consensus. Such revelations would help “delegitimize [Exxon] as a political actor,” the January agenda said.

In a twist, the initiative is set to be bankrolled partly by the heirs of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Exxon’s forebear, Standard Oil. The Rockefeller Family Fund has signaled it will help fund the campaign through its existing backing of 350.org, though it hasn’t provided a figure.

Wednesday’s filing is Exxon’s first legal salvo in what could be a long war, since at least four state attorneys general have launched investigations and a dozen others have signaled they might.

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Comments (11)

  • Avatar

    JayPee

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    Good for Exxon.
    Put them to their proof.

    Any judge who tries to take judicial notice of the greenhouse lie should be summarily removed and criminally charged with forfeit of pension.

    Reply

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    Edmonton Al

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    I do not like this:
    “In Wednesday’s filing, Exxon’s lawyers say the company has confirmed for more than a decade that it sees the risks of climate change, and that it has publicly advocated for a carbon tax as the best way to regulate carbon emissions.”
    Why would Exxon believe the GHG Theory?
    It has never been proven.
    Does a ‘carbon tax’ give Exxon an opportunity to raise prices and blame the carbon tax?

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Edmonton Al

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    Just look at the staff of the The Rockefeller Family Fund

    http://www.rffund.org/about/staff

    Nearly all left wing “environmentalists” that, like many funds, have been infiltrated by these eco-tards

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Todd McDougall

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    Exxon should be showing the climate fraud that’s going on. Show the real data. It’s there only chance

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    The oil companies are just making a business decision.They know a carbon tax will do virtually nothing to the sale of their products . So play along, be the tax collector and get the government and green lobbyists off their back . The fact that it is an overblown scam is not their problem . The only people getting screwed are consumers who know once government gets addicted to spending the money from a tax it is guaranteed to keep going up .
    The oil and gas industries have likely already folded like a cheap tent so they can go on their merry way while pointing out how green they are .

    Governments are $$Trillions in debt with zero chance of repayment at the same time
    they have massive pension obligations etc .

    Don’t expect oil companies to put the public interest ahead of theirs . IT’s not going to happen . They are whores running a business .

    Reply

  • Avatar

    piedrito

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    Some of us companies DO watch rooms like this and guage support. So keep up the good work everyone, and we’ll also try and do our part.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    ninetyninepct

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    This such a blatant scam by gore who is in it only for power and money. No other reason. I suggest a defence against this idiocy is to show that gore is mentally unbalanced. That would likely be easy to show that he is an environmental jihadist. If the world doesn’t think like he wants us to think then we are wrong.

    The various AG”s had better be careful. When they lose, and following American tradition, they will be liable for trillions in lawsuits. It would ruin their States.

    It would be up to gore and the braindead AG’s to prove that climate changes because of humans. With crap like this it shows that gore and his minions are in panic mode. Try to get a lot of money before the climate changes back, just like it always does.

    I always expected that people in the position of AG were somewhat intelligent and could think and do research for themselves. Obviously not.

    Exxon will eat them alive.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    John Wilder

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    It is scientifically IMPOSSIBLE FOR CO2 TO BE A GREENHOUSE GAS. Simply Googe the specific gravity of CO2 and it will take you to numerous scientific sites all stating that it is 1.52 or in other words it is 152% heavier than air and sinks to the ground when it is released.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Me

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    Yes that is true, but just like the bees die offs and the crysis of food shortages, polination also happens when it rains and when the wind blows, so what do you think happens to CO2 when the wind blows.

    Reply

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    steve frankes

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    [quote name=”Me”]Yes that is true, but just like the bees die offs and the crysis of food shortages, polination also happens when it rains and when the wind blows, so what do you think happens to CO2 when the wind blows.[/quote]

    Not much considering its heavier than air, you should do a bit more study.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Me

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    [quote name=”steve frankes”]
    Not much considering its heavier than air, you should do a bit more study.[/quote]

    I have and know what and how to read an msds, but hey if you think a gas don’t get blown around by wind then that is your problem. 😆

    Reply

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