Massachusetts top court rejects Exxon’s attempt to ban climate change probe

Massachusetts top court rejects Exxon’s attempt to ban climate change probe

Massachusetts’ top court on Friday ruled [text, PDF] against Exxon’s request to ban the state’s attorney general from investigating whether the oil conglomerate knew of the effect fossil fuels have on climate change and if they failed to disclose critical information to the public.

Attorney general Maura Healey [official website] filed a civil investigative demand (CID) into whether Exxon violated the state’s primary consumer protection law [official website] after reports released that Exxon had known for decades that fossil fuels contributed to global warming and climate change.

Exxon claims that as a corporation incorporated in Texas and New Jersey, Massachusetts lacks personal jurisdiction. The court rejected Exxon’s argument and stated, “Through its control over franchisee advertising, Exxon communicates directly with Massachusetts consumers about its fossil fuel products … [and] there is personal jurisdiction over Exxon.”

Exxon further argues that the attorney general’s investigation is biased based on Healey’s comments at a press conference titled Attorney Generals United for Clean Power. The court concluded that Healey’s “comments contained no ‘actionable bias,’ and instead were intended only to inform the public of the basis for the investigation into Exxon.”

Following the release of the reports in 2015, Exxon has been subject to a number of lawsuits. In March, a federal judge in Manhattan rejected [JURIST report] Exxon’s lawsuit claiming officials in New York were pursuing bad faith investigation.

As the investigation continues, Exxon is required to comply with the CID.