ExxonMobil is fighting a subpoena seeking its internal documents on climate change, arguing that the order violates the company’s constitutional rights. It’s an argument that legal experts say is unusual but not unprecedented.
Earlier this month, U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker initiated an investigation into whether Exxon misled the public on climate science. His office is also requesting records from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian think tank to which Exxon has previously provided funding. In that subpoena, the AG’s office accuses Exxon of defrauding the government and consumers, and “misrepresenting its knowledge of the likelihood that its products and activities have contributed and are contributing to climate change.”
Walker is one of a few state attorneys general that have announced plans to use a variety of legal tools against Exxon and other companies they believe have “deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change.” The attorneys general from New York, California and Massachusetts have all announced investigations into Exxon specifically.
But Exxon says Walker’s attempt to get its documents is politically motivated and a violation of the company’s rights. It has filed its own lawsuit in a Texas court to block the subpoena.