This is frightening. Exxon Mobil is being investigated for lying to the public about the risks of climate change, when in fact nobody knows exactly what those risks are. This smells like a money grab orders of magnitude greater than tobacco and asbestos for plaintiffs’ attornies, because the oil companies have much deeper pockets. One potential line of attack: hydrocarbon=based companies did not adequately disclose the risk that government bodies might decide their products would cause global warming and curb or prohibit the use of those products. In other words, these companies are supposed to be able to guess beforehand how the political football known as global warming is going to bounce. From Justin Gillis and Clifford Krauss at nytimes.com:
The New York attorney general has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how such risks might hurt the oil business.
According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents.
The investigation focuses on whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research.
The people said the inquiry would include a period of at least a decade during which Exxon Mobil funded outside groups that sought to undermine climate science, even as its in-house scientists were outlining the potential consequences — and uncertainties — to company executives.
Kenneth P. Cohen, vice president for public affairs at Exxon Mobil, said on Thursday that the company had received the subpoena and was still deciding how to respond.
“We unequivocally reject the allegations that Exxon Mobil has suppressed climate change research,” Mr. Cohen said, adding that the company had funded mainstream climate science since the 1970s, had published dozens of scientific papers on the topic and had disclosed climate risks to investors.
Mr. Schneiderman’s decision to scrutinize the fossil fuel companies may well open a new legal front in the climate change battle.
The people with knowledge of the New York case also said on Thursday that, in a separate inquiry, Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal producer, had been under investigation by the attorney general for two years over whether it properly disclosed financial risks related to climate change. That investigation was not previously reported, and has not resulted in any charges or other legal action against Peabody.
Vic Svec, a Peabody senior vice president, said in a statement, “Peabody continues to work with the New York attorney general’s office regarding our disclosures, which have evolved over the years.”
The Exxon inquiry might expand further to encompass other oil companies, according to the people with knowledge of the case, though no additional subpoenas have been issued to date.
To continue reading: Exxon Mobil Investigated for Possible Climate Change Lies