Attorney Generals from Texas and Alabama will oppose efforts by the US Virgin Islands to get Exxon Mobil’s Corp.’s early research into climate change and its potential harm on the environment. The states say that it violates Exxon’s right of free speech guaranteed it under the First Amendment.
“This case is about abusing the power of the subpoena to force Exxon to turn over many decades’ worth of records, so an attorney general with an agenda can pore over them in hopes of finding something incriminating,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, in a formal statement statement. “It’s a fishing expedition of the worst kind, and represents an effort to punish Exxon for daring to hold an opinion on climate change that differs from that of radical environmentalists.”
About 17 attorneys general (AG) that include those from the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands have opened investigations into Exxon after two news organizations uncovered documents saying that the oil giant had long-known of the adverse effects of climate change. The AG’s role here is largely to protect the company’s investors, who are entitled to know what management knows.
The subpoena issued by Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker requests a decade’s worth of communications, emails, statements, drafts, and other documents not just from the oil giant but also from those with which it has been in communication.
Exxon, which says the moves are politically motivated, says that climate is real and that its company is working with all stakeholders to find solutions. Like other oil giants, it is diversifying its energy portfolio to include investments in renewables and has recently announced it is investing in a fuel company to try and demonstrate a carbon capture project.