Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Now California Investigates Exxon For “Lying” Over Climate

exxonknewThe oil barons from Exxon will wake up to a double headache this morning. Firstly, the carnage on the international oil markets is playing havoc with their share price.

Yesterday afternoon the company’s stock was down nearly 5 per cent as the oil price continued its free-fall.

And secondly, they face problems at home too. According to yesterday’s LA Times, the California Attorney General Kamala Harris is following New York’s lead and will be investigating whether the oil giant repeatedly lied to the public and its shareholders about the risk from climate change.

The investigation is another blow to Exxon, already reeling from the ground-breaking investigation by the New York Attorney General which was launched last fall on the back off research by InsideClimateNews and the Los Angeles Times.

Harris’ office is now also examining what Exxon Mobil knew about climate change and what it told investors.

Part of Exxon’s response has been that it has been misrepresented by the media reporting what has become known as the #Exxonknew scandal.

Although the company vehemently denies the accusations, long-term Exxon-watcher Cindy Baxter, argues that “ExxonMobil did know about the science. So the question now is how can the company explain its role in funding, to the tune of $31m 1998-2014, the think tanks running climate denial campaigns specifically aimed at undermining the very science that Exxon’s own scientists were studying?”

The new investigation has been welcomed by long term critics of the company: U.S. Representative Ted W. Lieu (D-Torrance) “commended” Attorney General Harris for opening the investigation.

Lieu, who last year had called for the company to be investigated by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, now hopes the new investigation will make other states as well as the Juctice Department take action.

A former securities lawyer, Lieu, said “In America, because of the First Amendment, corporations get to lie to the American people. But if they lie to their shareholders or investors, that’s a crime.”

The New York Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman also welcomed the new investigation: “Just like any other publicly traded company, these energy giants have an obligation to ensure that their disclosures to investors of known and reasonably likely risks are truthful and not misleading, and to disclose to the public the risks associated with their products,” he said.

Ken Kimmell, the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has investigated Exxon’s denial campaign added that “California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s reported decision to investigate ExxonMobil brings us one step closer to holding hold fossil fuel companies accountable for decades of deception about the harm caused by their product”.

Finally billionaire Tom Steyer, who has campaigning on climate change, told the Guardian newspaper that “Anybody who puts out intentionally misleading information I think should be answering to us.”

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