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New York top prosecutor accuses Exxon of false climate change predictions
New York top prosecutor accuses Exxon of false climate change predictions

[JURIST] Eric Schneiderman [official website], New York’s top prosecutor, accused ExxonMobil [corporate website] in a court filing [text, PDF] Friday of misleading investors about climate change risks and demanded the corporation turn over internal documents. Schneiderman, Attorney General for New York, said in the filing that he had evidence of “potential materially false and misleading statements by Exxon” that could have led investors to believe that the oil company had accurately assessed environmental impact when it had ignored its internal formula for calculating such an impact. According to Schneiderman, Exxon frequently showed a “proxy cost” for greenhouse gas emissions to investors that may not have been included when estimating actual profits and losses. Schneiderman wrote in his filing, “Exxon’s own documents suggest that if Exxon had applied the proxy cost it promised to shareholders, at least one substantial oil sands project may have projected a financial loss, rather than a profit, over the course of the project’s original timeline.” Friday’s filing requested internal documents that Exxon has been withholding and the ability to interview employees who may know about internal climate change discussions. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey [official website] is also investigating Exxon for similar allegations. Scott Silvestri, Exxon spokesman, accused Schneiderman of making “inaccurate and irresponsible allegations about proxy cost.”

A New York judge on March 22 ordered Exxon to cooperate with the investigation into whether the company misled others about the effects of climate change. Schneiderman had issued previous subpoenas to both Exxon and their outside auditing servicers, and a New York state court in October 2016 ordered [text, PDF] compliance. However, Schneiderman submitted a letter [text, PDF] to the court in May stating that Exxon “has failed to comply in good faith,” and asserting that Exxon has “continuously delayed and obstructed the production of documents from its top executives and board members.” The letter came after Schneiderman’s office learned of an e-mail account under the name “Wayne Tracker,” utilized by Rex Tillerson, current US Secretary of State [official website] and former Exxon Chairman and CEO. Justice Barry Ostrager’s order on March 22 called for Exxon to turn over [Reuters report] all management committee documents by March 31 and instructed Exxon to work with Schneiderman’s office to recover lost emails from the “Wayne Tracker” email account.