A New York Supreme Court justice told an attorney general involved in a years-long Exxon investigation that the Democrat should either prove that the probe is legitimate or bring the pursuit to a speedy conclusion.
Judge Barry Ostrager expressed frustration Friday with the lengthy Exxon probe, telling the lawman spearheading the probe that “we would be 1,000 yards ahead of where we are” if the reasons for the investigation weren’t constantly changing. “You have engaged in a 16-month process requesting and receiving documents. You can’t start round two to produce documents all over again.”
“I think you are wasting my time,” Ostrager told New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The judge was referring to the AG’s request to obtain more documents from Exxon regarding the oil producer’s “proxy cost” of greenhouse gas emissions.
Ostrager ordered Exxon to provide testimony of an employee of its Canadian affiliate. The employee had supposedly been involved in evaluating the future costs of climate regulations for a project in the tar sands.
The bulk of Schneiderman’s investigation is based on reports from liberal media outlets InsideClimate News and Columbia University, both of which claim that Exxon has been hiding knowledge about global warming from investors and the public since the 1970s.
Federal officials have criticized Susanne Rust, one of the lead researchers responsible for Columbia’s Exxon reports, in the past for allowing her environmental activism to dictate her research on the oil company. She has been responsible in recent years for research hyping up the supposedly poisonous materials found in water bottles.
Regulators dismissed much of Rust’s research, showing that an additive called BPA found in plastic bottles can poison foods and water. The Federal Drug Administration has researched such claims and found that the chemical “contained no health risk.”
Schneiderman’s initial investigation was premised on fleshing out Exxon’s hidden climate research. It then resorted to reporting on the company’s supposed stranded assets, and eventually moved on to determining if Exxon was publicly quoting a different carbon price than the company held internally.
Ostrager is not the first judge to criticize the probes. Texas Judge Ed Kinkeade, for instance, peppered lawyers for Schneiderman and Massachusetts counterpart, Maura Healey, in March with questions implying the probe is a politically motivated move to garner media attention. He eventually remanded the AG’s case to New York, where the bulk of probes emanated.
“Are the two attorneys general trying to further their political agendas by using the vast power of the government to silence the voices of all those who disagree with them?” Kinkeade said at the time. He was referring to the AG’s environmental leanings, as well as their connections to wealthy environmentalists.
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