Exxon Mobil fails to block climate change probe

Exxon Mobil fails to block climate change probe
Photo credit: Getty

Massachusetts' top court has rejected Exxon Mobil's bid to block the state's attorney general from obtaining records to investigate whether the company concealed knowledge of the role fossil fuels plays in climate change.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Attorney General Maura Healey had jurisdiction to seek records to probe whether the oil company's marketing or sale of fossil fuel products violated the state's consumer protection law.

The ruling marked another setback for Exxon after a federal judge in March dismissed a related lawsuit it filed seeking to block investigations by Ms Healey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Exxon argued that as a corporation incorporated in Texas and New Jersey, Ms Healey had no basis to issue a demand for documents in 2016 to conduct a Massachusetts-based investigation of whether the oil company misled consumers and investors.

But Justice Elspeth Cypher, writing for a 6-0 court, said jurisdiction existed because of Exxon's control over advertising conducted for more than 300 franchise gas stations operating under the Exxon and Mobil brands in the state.

She said Ms Healey's probe related to how manmade greenhouse gas emissions had caused climate change, "a distinctly modern threat that grows more serious with time, and the effects of which are already being felt in Massachusetts."

Ms Healey in a statement declared victory and said Exxon must come forward with the truth about what it knew about climate change and when it knew it.

"The people of Massachusetts - and people everywhere - deserve answers," she said.

Exxon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters