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California investigating whether Exxon Mobil lied about climate change

California investigating whether Exxon Mobil lied about climate change
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California officials are investigating whether Exxon Mobil Corp. illegally lied to the public and investors about what it knew on the risks of climate change.

Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is running for the Senate, is looking into whether Exxon’s positions on climate change amount to securities fraud or environmental law violations, The Los Angeles Times reports.

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The probe follows reports in the Times and InsideClimate News last year alleging that Exxon spent millions of dollars researching climate change risks in the 1970s and 1980s.

But Exxon later ignored its own findings, the reports said, and tried to sow doubt about global warming and its link to fossil fuels in order to advocate against policies that it felt could hurt its business.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched a similar probe in November, using a unique New York law that gives the state wide-ranging powers to punish financial fraud.

The report about Harris’s investigation cites a person familiar with it, saying she launched it shortly after the Exxon stories came out. Harris’s office and Exxon declined to comment or confirm the probe.

Numerous environmental groups and some congressional Democrats have called on state attorneys general, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Securities and Exchange Commission, among others, to investigate Exxon over its climate stance.

Exxon has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying its consistently been transparent and at the forefront of climate research.

“Activists deliberately cherry-picked statements attributed to various company employees to wrongly suggest definitive conclusions were reached decades ago by company researchers,” Exxon spokesman Ken Cohen said in a statement last year.

“These activists took those statements out of context and ignored other readily available statements demonstrating that our researchers recognized the developing nature of climate science at the time which, in fact, mirrored global understanding,” he said.