Two landmark legal cases are becoming intertwined after the Attorneys representing 21 youth plaintiffs demanded that the US Government and American Petroleum Institute – two of the defendants in their case – hand over a series of alias emails that were used by Rex Tillerson, then head of Exxon to discuss climate change.
The emails, for which Tillerson used the alias “Wayne Tracker,” are now subject to what is known legally as a served request for production (RFP) in the youth plaintiff case.
In this landmark case, the 21 youths are claiming that the federal government is violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property by failing to stop climate change.
In a separate legal action, which is also ground-breaking, the State of New York is suing Exxon for misleading investors and the public over climate change, in the scandal known as #Exxonknew. Last week, through this litigation, we had the new revelation that Rex Tillerson, when boss of Exxon, had used an alias email account called, “Wayne Tracker” to discuss sensitive matters relating to climate. Wayne is Tillerson’s middle name.
At the time, Exxon conceded that the alias email account “was put in place for secure and expedited communications between select senior company officials and the former chairman for a broad range of business-related topics.”
The two legal cases are now becoming intertwinned.
Late yesterday, the attorneys for the 21 children issued a press release demanding the release of the “Wayne Tracker” emails from the US Government and the American Petroleum Institute, as they “suspect the emails will also reveal the deep influence of the fossil fuel defendants over U.S. energy and climate policies, and the defendants’ private acknowledgement that climate change was caused by their product, both of which are important to the youth’s case.”
They noted that on the “latter point, the fossil fuel defendants have refused to take a position on whether climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels, even when pressed by federal judges to answer that question.”
Julia Olson, the plaintiffs’counsel and executive director of Our Children’s Trust said: “When looking for evidence of a cover up, emails from Rex Tillerson’s pseudonym about climate change are just the kind of evidence the court needs to see.”
However, whether anyone will see the whole set of “Wayne Tracker” emails remains to be seen. In a letter last week from its attorney’s relating to the New York State investigation, Exxon admitted that it may not have kept the Wayne Tracker emails. The company also tried to argue that there was “nothing improper” about the use of two email accounts.
“ExxonMobil determined, however, that despite the company’s intent to preserve the relevant emails in both of Mr. Tillerson’s accounts, due to the manner in which email accounts had been configured years earlier and how they interact with the system, these technological processes did not automatically extend to the secondary email account”.
In response, yesterday the Attorney General of New York, in a letter to the court, argued that: “Exxon concedes that it failed to preserve all documents from an alias email account used by Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s former Chairman and CEO.”
The New York Attorney General has now asked the court to intervene to “order Exxon to produce all remaining Management Documents by a certain date.”
So the US Government, API and Exxon could all be forced by courts to search their archives for Wayne Tracker.
Eventually we will hopefully be able to find out the true lengths Exxon went to hide the its knowledge about climate change. And the Wayne Tracker account could be central to finding out the truth.