Enviro Group Claims It Was ‘Dragged Into Legal Fight’ With Exxon

Chris White | Energy Reporter

One of the environmental groups involved in the year-long crusade against ExxonMobil claimed Thursday it was roped into litigation between attorneys general and the massive oil company

“We’re not a party to this litigation,” Kenneth Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), said about a letter from Exxon requesting the UCS and others preserve all communications with the company.

Exxon’s request “raises questions about how an [non-governmental organization] like UCS can be dragged into a legal fight between Exxon and the attorney general,” Kimmel told reporters.

He also said that it would be “very burdensome” for the group to produce such documents if directed to by a court order.

UCS attended meetings in April with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman about effective ways to go after Exxon for allegedly misleading the media and investors about global warming. The meeting, of course, raises concerns the environmentalist group was colluding with government agencies to hamper one of the fossil fuel industry’s biggest oil producers.

Schneiderman launched an investigation in 2015 into Exxon’s knowledge about global warming. The New York Democrat was “demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents” from the oil producer dating all the way back to the 1970s. The probe is partially the result of an investigation into Exxon’s history on climate research conducted by InsideClimate News.

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

Texas Federal Judge Ed Kinkeade decided in October that Schneiderman’s colleague, Democratic Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, of acting in “bad faith” when she issued her own subpoena targeting Exxon. She was hoping to acquire the same trove of documents the New York attorney general sought.

Still, the battle between the crusading attorneys general and the beleagured oil company rages on, with Exxon claiming  Schneiderman, Healey, and UCS were ones drawing first blood.

“The letter that we received from ExxonMobil’s lawyers signals that  the company is planning a massive fishing expedition into UCS’s internal e-mails and communications with others, including the press,” Kimmell said, essentially crying foul to the hardball tactic. “We don’t see how this relates to the company’s current disputes with the New York and Massachusetts Attorneys General, and it appears to be yet another effort to intimidate us from exposing climate science deception.”

Exxon maintains UCS showed up to the fight, so it should be willing to absorb the bruises and scars that come from such combat.

“Our request to preserve documents is focused on groups or individuals directly involved in a campaign to discredit our company using false allegations and mischaracterizations of the company’s history of climate research and communications with investors,” Alan T. Jeffers, an Exxon spokesman, said about the letter.

“We did not start this,” Jeffers added, “but we will see it through and will vigorously defend ourselves.”

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Tags : energy environmentalist eric schneiderman exxonmobil insideclimate news oil union of concerned scientists
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