h1

The conspiracy rocks on

October 27, 2016

Ron Bailey writes an update about the Attorneys General United for Clean Power, the group that’s issued subpoenas to ExxonMobil (and the Competitive Enterprise Institute) to investigate them for fraud regarding climate change regulations. This is a topic I posted about last April.

ExxonMobil Climate ‘Fraud’ Investigation Follies Continue

ExxonMobil is suspected by New York Attorney-General Eric Schneiderman of misleading shareholders about the damage that climate change regulations might do to its business prospects. Scheidnerman and nearly twenty other Democratic attorneys-general have joined together in an effort to prove these suspicions correct. Under New York’s capacious Martin Act, Schneiderman has issued investigatory subpoenas demanding that the company turn over various documents including those related to research results by company scientists and donations made to suspect academicians, think tanks, and advocacy groups. […]

In August, Schneiderman issued another subpoena demanding to see records held by the company’s accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Exxonmobil refused, asserting an “accountant-client privilege” under Texas law. Now a New York Supreme Court judge has ruled that New York law applies and ordered the company to comply with Schneiderman’s subpoena. (Note the Supreme Court is not the highest level of New York’s judiciary.)

“We are pleased with the Court’s order and look forward to moving full-steam ahead with our fraud investigation of Exxon,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman in a statement. “Exxon had no legal basis to interfere with PwC’s production, and I hope that today’s order serves as a wake up call to Exxon that the best thing they can do is cooperate with, rather than resist, our investigation.”

The Washington Post reports that the company plans to appeal the decision.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade of Texas issued a discovery order to Massachusetts Attorney-General Maura Healey to turn over documents that would enable him to understand how she, Schneiderman and the other Democratic attorneys-general cooked up their joint investigation of ExxonMobil’s possibly fraudulent behavior. The joint investigation is governed by what is called a Common Interest Agreement among the Democratic AGs. In his order Kinkeade noted:

Attorney General Healey’s actions leading up to the issuance of the CID [Civil Investigative Demand] causes the Court concern and presents the Court with the question of whether Attorney General Healey issued the CID with bias or prejudgment about what the investigation of Exxon would discover. …

The Court finds the allegations about Attorney General Healey and the anticipatory nature of Attorney General Healey’s remarks about the outcome of the Exxon investigation to be concerning to this Court. The foregoing allegations about Attorney General Healey, if true, may constitute bad faith in issuing the CID….

At the Attorneys General United for Clean Power press conference in March 2016 featuring remarks by climate warrior Al Gore, Healey did say:

Fossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be, must be, held accountable. That’s why I, too, have joined in investigating the practices of ExxonMobil. We can all see today the troubling disconnect between what Exxon knew, what industry folks knew, and what the company and industry chose to share with investors and with the American public. We are here before you, all committed to combating climate change and to holding accountable those who have misled the public.

Could Healey’s statements be considered biased or prejudged? You decide. […]

As I reported when all this got started a year ago, ExxonMobil began disclosing its annual reports the possible risks to its business posed by climate change in 2006. That happens to be the same year in which the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report definitively stated: “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” […]

The follies continue.

This effort by the AGs sounds like they’re hoping for something like the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. You remember that… a group of states collectively settled for a series of payments from the four major tobacco vendors. The tobacco companies "agreed to pay a minimum of $206 billion over the first 25 years of the agreement." (There are nine years left in that period.)

That settlement turned into a slush fund for many of those states since there was no monitoring of how the settlement money was spent by the states. If my speculation is right, maybe those states can be milking the petroleum companies by the time the tobacco money runs out.

What industry will come next?

Advertisements

One comment

  1. […] parallel I drew in my last post about this – between ‘Big Tobacco’ and ‘Big Oil’ – is explicitly mentioned […]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: