An environmental legal analyst said Thursday it is a good thing U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker decided to withdraw his subpoena against ExxonMobil, because he was in “way over his head.”
“The Virgin Islands attorney general is really not capable of taking on Exxon and this quick retreat confirms that,” Pat Parenteau, an environmental law professor at Vermont Law School, told reporters.
He said taking on Exxon in such a risky way “was a distraction,” and one likely to result in the attorney general getting “pounded” by the oil company.
Other environmental attorneys agreed with Parenteau. Robert Collings, an energy and environmental attorney with the law firm Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, suggested Walker’s move could have jeopardized the coalition of attorneys general investigating Exxon.
“He [Walker] gets out of a case which could have threatened the game plan of the attorney general coalition that he belongs to,” Collings said. “If one federal court looks at the Virgin Islands’ subpoena and decides that it is faulty, then you could have a case created that establishes at least an influence on other state litigation, if not a precedent, that would control their ability to bring their own actions and subpoenas in the future.”