Exxon targets attorneys general who dare to look into its climate shenanigans


A number of state attorneys general are being counter-investigated by ExxonMobil for looking into the oil giant’s bogus climate change research. Exxon, who has been facing legal scrutiny since last November for making statements that contradict their own research on climate change, is accusing government officials of overreaching in their duties, collaborating with activist organizations and waging a battle over “principles of free speech,” including First Amendment rights. Exxon’s claims follow the attorneys general launching a legal coalition last March that would investigate fossil fuel companies that spread dubious information on climate science. With Exxon in a game of legal tag with government officials ahead of its annual meeting next week, it’s appears the oil company is running out of ideas, leaving the oil giant with little choice but to either get on board with the consensus around climate science or continue scheming to distort reality.



Key Points

  • Survival is everyone’s right. The state attorneys who joined the coalition agree that climate change impacts have brought on significant damages to their states including flooding, extreme weather and rising sea levels. As public servants, they have an obligation to protect the people they represent, which is why they are using the power of their office in a meaningful way before the problem gets worse.
  • Exxon buried its head in the sand – and these are the consequences. Companies like Exxon believe that environmental activists are portraying them to be social pariahs, when in reality, they did it to themselves by being dishonest. With their shareholders set to meet next week for the company’s annual meeting and their bottom line at risk, Exxon executives are increasingly weary of the outcome, and are doing whatever they can to get back into their good graces – even if it means making a farce of the law.



Tools & Resources



  • “The First Amendment, ladies and gentlemen, does not give you the right to commit fraud.” – Eric Schneiderman, New York attorney general
  • “It is remarkable that a do-nothing Congress that has refused to take any action on climate change is now attempting to disrupt this important investigation into potential corporate malfeasance.” The office did not take part in the 2012 meeting, he said. He added, “speaking with outside experts is a routine part of the investigative process, and we make decisions based on the merits, period.” – Eric Soufer, a spokesman for New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman
  • “America’s least-respected politicians have now courageously stepped up to defend one of America’s most-hated corporations from scrutiny[…] If these Representatives, who have historically low approval ratings, think they’re somehow helping Exxon’s public image with this nonsense, then they need to take some time away from lobbyist mixers and meet the people.” – Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA
  • “The fundamental premise of the letter is ridiculous […] Chairman Smith and his colleagues totally mischaracterize the nature of the investigations of the attorneys general.”- Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists

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