On the same day that former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee, was dodging questions about the ongoing ExxonKnew investigation, a Massachusetts court on Wednesday ordered the oil company to hand over decades of documents regarding what it knew about climate change.
The ruling (pdf), handed down by Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger, denied Exxon’s attempt to delay, directing the company to comply with the investigation by state Attorney General Maura Healey.
The decision was widely hailed as a big win for Healey and other state AGs probing allegations, unearthed by the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News, that the oil giant had suppressed evidence going back to the 1970s of the impact of burning fossil fuels on the climate as well as funded misinformation campaigns to spread skepticism about the growing scientific consensus.
“This order affirms our longstanding authority to investigate fraud,” Healey wrote on Twitter after the ruling. Both Healey and New York AG Eric Schneiderman have launched investigations into whether the oil company mislead its investors. “@exxonmobil must come clean about what it knew about climate change,” she added.
Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, international policy director for Corporate Accountability International, declared the ruling “a huge victory for democracy and uncovering the truth about Exxon’s decades of deception,” adding that “with Rex Tillerson poised to be the next U.S. Secretary of State, the timing couldn’t be better.”
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