Energy

Judge In Exxon Case Says Al Gore’s Role Makes It ‘Political’

REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Chris White Tech Reporter

A Texas judge said Monday the investigation by attorneys general into oil producer Exxon Mobil has to be “political” because former Vice President Al Gore was involved.

Attorneys with Exxon requested a U.S. District Court judge in Texas give the company injunctive relief from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s subpoena for 30 years worth of company records. The hearing was under Texas jurisdiction ostensibly because that is where the oil company and the subpoenaed documents are based.

The bulk of the discussion during the hearing revolved around whether the Exxon probes were politically motivated. Exxon’s attorneys argue the investigations were clearly politically motivated, while Healey maintained the subpoenas were meant to discover illegality, as well as to protect Exxon customers.

Eleven attorneys general, including Ken Paxton of Texas, are siding with Exxon in the legal argument, while those from 16 other states are siding with Massachusetts.

Healey’s office initially denied the investigations were political during a “AGs United for Clean Power” press conference on March 29 attended by several attorneys general and featuring the former vice president. While Healey lambasted fossil fuel companies for their supposed illegalities, she also noted that attorney generals have a critical role to play in fighting so-called man-made global warming.

Gore also said that the best way to solve the Exxon problem is if the Congress allows the Obama administration to do its work on punishing fossil fuel companies that, according to the politician-turned-environmentalist, break the law.

The subpoenas are partially a result of a September investigation of Exxon conducted by InsideClimate News, Los Angeles Times, among left-leaning media outlets. The investigation found that Exxon had allegedly played fast and loose with information concerning global warming.

InsideClimate News also alleges that Amoco, Phillips, Texaco, Shell, and others joined ExxonMobil, in misleading the public about the supposed effects global warming has on sea levels.

Exxon’s lawsuit claims the attorney general’s investigation is “targeting the speech of [her] political opponents” and is “exposing [the company’s] documents that may be politically useful to climate activists.”

Federal district Judge Ed Kinkeade asked attorneys why Exxon was fighting so hard against Healey’s subpoena after already forking over thousands of pages of documents to the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman, for his part, received nearly $265,000 in campaign contributions from lawyers and politicians who stand to gain from a legal victor against Exxon, according to a Sept. 12 report by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Michael Bastasch.

Liberal billionaire George Soros gave Schneiderman $64,500, while members of the uber-wealthy Rockefeller family have shoveled over more than $10,000 to the New York attorney general since 2004.

Justin Anderson, the attorney representing Exxon, said his company’s cooperation with Schneiderman started before the news conference in March. Anderson claimed the news conference showed the political motives of Healey and Schneiderman.

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