Judge to haul state AGs to Texas for deposition
Hannah Hess and Benjamin Hulac, E&E News reporters
A federal judge in Texas has ordered the attorney general of Massachusetts to appear for deposition next month in a lawsuit Exxon Mobil Corp. filed as part of an attempt to block investigations into what the company knew about climate change.
U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade ruled yesterday that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) should appear in Dallas on Dec. 13. The judge will enter a second order regarding Schneiderman’s deposition after he files an answer in the case.
Kinkeade issued the order one day after a telephone status conference with the parties.
It marks the latest victory for the oil giant in an escalating legal and political battle that has come under scrutiny by Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, fossil fuel industry advocates and environmental groups.
Healey and Schneiderman have both been investigating for months whether the Exxon violated securities laws and consumer-protection rules by withholding information related to the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the climate.
The company alleged in a filing last week that the two attorneys general were “conducting improper and politically motivated investigations of Exxon Mobil in a coordinated effort to silence and intimidate one side of the public policy debate on how to address climate change” (ClimateWire, Nov. 14).
Both attorneys general participated in a news conference this spring, along with former Vice President Al Gore, in which they accused fossil fuel companies of committing fraud by lying about climate change science and announced a multistate effort to hold them accountable (Greenwire, March 29).
Kinkeade issued an order in mid-October suggesting that Healey may have acted in “bad faith” against the company. He pointed to comments made during the spring news conference as cause for “concern.”
A spokesman for Exxon said yesterday’s order reinforced those sentiments.
“We have no choice but to defend ourselves against politically motivated investigations that are biased, in bad faith and without legal merit. We did not start this, but we will see it through and will vigorously defend ourselves against false allegations and mischaracterizations of our climate research and investor communications,” said spokesman Alan Jeffers.
Healey has argued that Exxon’s push for discovery is “in an effort to evade legitimate” inquiries of Exxon (ClimateWire, Nov. 2).
A spokesman for Schneiderman said last night that the office “will respond appropriately.”
Healey’s office declined to comment.
Full story here: http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/stories/1060045996