An attempt by Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) to derail a multistate fraud investigation into its public comments concerning climate change flamed out in court in New York.
Valerie Caproni, the U.S. District Judge in Manhattan on dismissed the company’s lawsuit in which it claimed that officials in Massachusetts and New York conspired with environmental lobby groups in planning the securities-fraud probe and decided about its outcome before it even started.
In its move to sue in federal courts in Texas and New York to stop the state investigations, Exxon was, the judge said the company was “running roughshod over the adage that the best defense is a good offense.
The win clears the way for Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and his New York counterpart Eric Schneiderman man to carry on and finish their probes, which have been delayed by court battles. The two will ultimately decide if there’s enough evidence of any wrongdoing on the side of Exxon that will enable them to sue the energy company and seek damages.
Scott Silvestri, the Exxon spokesman said the company is currently studying the judgment before deciding on the next steps. Silvestri noted that as a company, they are fully aware of the effects of climate change and they want to be part of the solution. He added that the company has invested $8 billion on low-emissions and energy efficiency technologies like next generation biofuels and carbon capture.
While commenting on the probe, the attorneys general said that Exxon was inappropriately trying to use the federal court system to shut down their state investigatory powers.
The two states have been probing since 2015 whether the company misled investors and the public about the effects of climate change, including the manner in which it could affect the company’s finances. They’re also investigating whether the company gave the right values of its reserves based on what its scientists had projected.
In its defense, the company claimed it has evidence of political interference which include meetings that the attorneys general had with environmental groups as well as Schneiderman’s claim during a media brief that former President Barack Obama’s environmental programs were being opposed by “morally vacant” forces.