Exxon reveals subpoena in New York climate change case

Exxon reveals subpoena in New York climate change case
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After nearly a year of secrecy, ExxonMobil Corp. is revealing the subpoena that New York’s attorney general sent it last year regarding its past positions on climate change.

Exxon had been complying with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s (D) investigation and subpoena, but the oil giant is now saying Schneiderman’s motives are driven by political bias and asking a federal court to block enforcement of the demand for documents.


The subpoena was among hundreds of pages of exhibits that Exxon attorneys filed late last week in the Texas court, first reported Monday by ClimateWire.

Schneiderman said Exxon may have committed fraud by lying to the public and investors about how much it knew about climate change as far back as the 1970s.

Recently, Schneiderman has revealed that his focus is more on recent statements to investors regarding how climate change, its policies and its impacts affect the company’s operations now and into the future.

The subpoena demands nearly four decades of communications and documents about climate information from Exxon, including research it conducted or funded regarding the causes and effects of global warming, communications with special interest groups, and more.

But the subpoena, sent Nov. 4, 2015, shows that Schneiderman was concerned about financial fraud and recent statements to investors from the outset.

That goes against Exxon’s contention that Schneiderman shifted strategies recently when he came up empty on his investigation into older positions from the company.

The subpoena also shows that Schneiderman’s demands have been very similar to the demands of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) in her separate investigation into Exxon.

The company complied with Schneiderman’s probe until recently but immediately sought to block Healey’s investigation.

The Texas judge overseeing Exxon’s requests to stop the New York and Massachusetts probes recently asked the company’s lawyers why they complied with one state and not the other.

“Is it true what [Healey’s attorney] said about y’all cooperating in New York and not cooperating with them?” Judge Ed Kinkeade asked Exxon in court, to which the company’s attorney answered affirmatively.

“So why the heck are we having this big fight?” Kinkeade asked. “Why are y’all poking this bear? If you are agreeing to cooperating there, why aren’t you cooperating with them?”

Exxon had originally only been fighting the Massachusetts demands in the Texas court, but last week, it asked to add New York’s subpoena to the case.

A few days prior, Schneiderman filed a lawsuit in a New York state court to compel Exxon and its accounting firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, to comply with a subpoena for company audits.