A recent New York attorney general climate change investigation of Exxon Mobil could include charges against the oil conglomerate and potentially other companies, according to legal experts.
The office of Eric Schneiderman issued a subpoena on Wednesday to Exxon Mobil for documents, which date back to 1977, relating to its climate change research and associated business practices. According to the Los Angeles Times, the investigation centers on allegations that the oil giant knew about the dangers of climate change yet suppressed its research and publicly declared the science was inaccurate.
Exxon Mobil has denied the charges.
"Exxon Mobil recognizes that climate risks are real and responsible actions are warranted," Vice President Ken Cohen said in a conference call on Thursday.
The New York attorney general could charge the company with financial fraud if enough evidence is found.
"Exxon Mobil is not alone," Stephen Zamora, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, told The New York Times. "This is not likely to be an isolated matter."
Potential targets in the investigation could include other oil companies that funded or joined organizations that rejected or suppressed climate change science. These companies could face the same charges if there is enough evidence showing that they knew about the threat of climate change while publicly denying it.
One of the organizations that denied climate change is the American Legislative Exchange Council. Exxon Mobil and Chevron, like other American oil companies, are still members of this organization after many years.
Unlike their American counterparts, many international oil companies are now supporting climate change action.
In October, British Petroleum and nine other international oil companies publicly spoke out about the threat of climate change and the need to address it.
(H/T: The New York Times)
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