Massachusetts Top Court Rules Against Exxon in Climate Change Probe

Massachusetts’ top court on Friday rejected Exxon Mobil Corp’s bid to block the state’s attorney general from obtaining records to investigate whether the company for decades concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels play in climate change.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Attorney General Maura Healey had jurisdiction to seek records to probe whether the oil company’s marketing or sale of fossil fuel products violated the state’s consumer protection law.

Representatives for Healey and Exxon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Healey, a Democrat, and New York Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sought records following news reports in 2015 saying Exxon’s own scientists determined that fossil fuel combustion must be reduced to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Those reports by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times were based on documents from the 1970s and 1980s. Exxon contended that the documents were not inconsistent with its public positions.

After Healey issued a demand for documents in April 2016, Exxon filed a lawsuit challenging the records request and another case in federal court challenging the probes by her and Schneiderman.

A federal judge in Manhattan in March dismissed that case, rejecting as “implausible” Exxon’s argument that the attorneys general were pursuing politically motivated, bad faith fraud probes in order to violate its constitutional rights.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston Editing by Phil Berlowitz and David Gregorio)