Does Exxon Mobil have a constitutional right to deny knowledge about climate change? A legal battle surrounding this very issue is currently playing out across the country with attorneys general, congressmen, executives and activists all weighing in, reports Natalie Schreyer for Mother Jones.
In question are decades-old internal documents at Exxon, which investigations by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed last year to show that the oil giant’s own scientists and executives knew that fossil fuels contributed to climate change. Publicly, the company argued that the threats posed by global warming were far from certain, Schreyer reports.
The attorneys general of Massachusetts, California, and New York have launched investigations into Exxon’s knowledge, with some drawing comparisons to the tobacco industry’s undisclosed understanding of the dangers of smoking. Exxon has countered that the investigations are unconstitutional, arguing in the Massachusetts case, “This…is about freedom of political speech.”
In March, the attorney general of the US Virgin Islands served Exxon with a subpoena for records that might prove the company had defrauded consumers and the government by “misrepresenting its knowledge” that its fossil fuels contribute to climate change, Schreyer reports.