AG can seek ExxonMobil climate-change data, Massachusetts court rules

Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Maura T. Healey (D) has authority under state law to investigate whether ExxonMobil Corp. suppressed information related to global climate change, the Bay State’s highest court ruled on Apr. 13.

Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Maura T. Healey (D) has authority under state law to investigate whether ExxonMobil Corp. suppressed information related to global climate change, the Bay State’s highest court ruled on Apr. 13.

“In its decision today, our state’s highest court affirmed that Exxon is subject to our laws, and that our office has the authority to investigate,” Healey said following the ruling. “Now Exxon must come forward with the truth, what it knew about climate change, when, and what it told the world.”

ExxonMobil did not respond immediately to OGJ’s request for a comment on Apr. 16.

Healey requested the information nearly a year earlier in an Apr. 16, 2017, civil investigation demand (CID) alleging that the multinational oil company may have violated the state’s consumer protection law by not passing climate impact information on to Massachusetts motorists.

ExxonMobil responded by asking the Massachusetts Superior Court to set aside or modify the CID. Its arguments included the company’s not being subject to personal jurisdiction in the state, and the CID’s violating the company’s statutory and constitutional rights. In a Jan. 11 ruling, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Heidi E. Brieger denied ExxonMobil’s petition and ordered company to comply with the CID, which the company appealed.

ExxonMobil also asked that the Massachusetts case be stayed pending a lawsuit seeking relief from actions seeking climate change information by New York Atty. Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman (D) as well as Healy, which it filed in in US District Court for Northern Texas on June 15, 2017. That court issued a March 29 order transferring the proceeding to US District Court for Southern New York, where Judge Valerie Caproni dismissed ExxonMobil’s complaint on Mar. 29.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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