Energy Voice | Exxon sued by New York AG over climate change

The New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, claiming the Texas-based oil giant had misled investors about its readiness to tackle the financial challenges climate change posed to their business.

The lawsuit claims while Exxon was telling investors it was factoring in the future cost of greenhouse gas regulations in its decision making, the company’s executives either did not do so or applied a significantly lower cost than they indicated to investors.

“Exxon built a facade to deceive investors into believing that the company was managing the risks of climate change regulation to its business when, in fact, it was intentionally and systematically underestimating or ignoring them, contrary to its public representations,” New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement.

The suit continues what has already been a three-year legal fight. Exxon Mobil spokesman Scott Silvestri said the New York AG’s office has yet to find any evidence against the company.

“These baseless allegations are a product of closed-door lobbying by special interests, political opportunism and the attorney general’s inability to admit that a three-year investigation has uncovered no wrongdoing,” Silvestri said in a prepared statement. “The company looks forward to refuting these claims as soon as possible and getting this meritless civil lawsuit dismissed.”

The New York and Massachusetts Attorneys General Offices have been investigating Exxon since at least 2015, looking at whether the company violated investor protection laws in its public statements on climate change.

In the past, Exxon Mobil has called the investigations politically motivated and unfair and sought to have the state investigations blocked in court, so far unsuccessfully.

In August, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it would not pursue any enforcement actions against Exxon, dropping a two-year investigation into how the energy giant factors climate change into the value of its assets.

The New York investigation appeared to be centered on how Exxon calculated the regulatory costs for carbon-intensive oil sands projects in Western Canada.

In the suit, the AG claimed Exxon had under counted the greenhouse gas emission cost on its Kearl project in Alberta by $11 billion, 94 percent below what it should have been. In total, Exxon undercounted carbon costs in that region by $25 billion, the suit says.

This article first appeared on the Houston Chronicle – an Energy Voice content partner. For more from the Houston Chronicle click here.

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