A group of 11 Republican attorneys general are objecting to an investigation into whether or not oil giant Exxon-Mobil violating consumer protection laws by downplaying the dangers of global warming.
Reuters reports that “[…] Top prosecutors for Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, all of whom are Republicans, filed a brief in U.S. District Court in Manhattan supporting a lawsuit by Exxon to halt a probe by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.”
Schneiderman and Healey, who are both Democrats, have been investigating whether Exxon failed to adequately disclose to customers the environmental dangers posed by their products.
The retaliatory and preventative lawsuit brought by Exxon Mobil was initially filed in a Dallas court. Last month, a judge ordered a change of venue from Texas to New York. While U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade felt there was some merit behind Exxon’s lawsuit, he didn’t feel the Lone Star State was an appropriate venue for allegations that centered on political dealings in Manhattan.
“Exxon claims that the ultimate goal of the attorneys general is to silence everyone in the oil and gas industry from debating the climate change issue at any level,” he wrote in his ruling. Kinkeade added that he felt Attorneys General Healey and Schneiderman were “trying to hide something” and hadn’t been completely honest about their motives.
The oil company alleges that the probe, which has demanded decades-old files, is the result of collusion between the attorneys generals and climate change groups. Exxon’s corporate management and legal counsel say the investigation came after Healey and Schneiderman met with anti-global warming advocates behind closed doors at a New York City convention. Both prosecutors had made agreements with advocates not to publicly disclose their contacts.
The Republican AGs voicing concern over the probe say Healey and Schneiderman are infringing on Exxon Mobil’s freedom of speech, expressing concerns that the duo were “using law enforcement authority to resolve a public policy debate” over whether carbon emissions and drilling can cause climate change.
While a vast majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is either manmade or has been accelerated by industry, a number of conservative politicians and pundits have posited the existence of a “controversy” or “debate” within the scientific community. In reality, the majority of heated discussion the existence of climate change is in the political arena.
“The attorneys general have raised important constitutional and legal issues in support of our position that the investigations by New York and Massachusetts are politically based and in bad faith,” said Exxon Mobil spokesman Scott Silvestri. He added his belief that the probes are “an attempt to silence political opponents who disagree on the appropriate policies to address climate change.”
The current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, said in a recent interview that he did not believe manmade carbon emissions were a “primary contributor” to global warming.