Oil rich Rockefeller family came clean about directing various U.S. attorneys general to target Exxon Mobil over the company supposedly hiding decades worth of climate research.
The only way to target Exxon for hiding climate change research was to request the New York AGs office to open an investigation into the company, David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman, directors of the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), wrote Wednesday in an editorial for New York Books.
“It is up to government officials, not public interest advocates, to determine whether ExxonMobil’s conduct” violated state law, so the RFF “informed state attorneys general of our concern that ExxonMobil seemed to have failed” to make public the risks climate change poses to investors, they wrote.
The two RFF executives impressed upon New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the importance of using a little-known law called the Martin Act to take down Exxon.
The New York Democrat began his investigation in 2015, which, according to a New York Times report at the time, was “demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents” from the oil producer dating all the way back to the 1970s.
The law can be invoked only in the likelihood that a reasonable investor would have avoided buying or selling stock in a company if it omitted information deemed important by the investor.
Legal expert Merritt Fox believes Exxon is unlikely to be charged with any criminal conspiracy under the Martin Act.
Since “the market was well supplied with information about climate change,” Fox said in June, “… I’d be kind of amazed if what the Exxon scientists knew was so different from what other scientists outside Exxon knew and were publicly available that it would change that total mix in a significant way.”
Kaiser and Wasserman admitted in an earlier version of the article that the family intended all along to bring down Exxon because of its supposed anti-global warming positions.
“[W]e paid for a team of independent reporters from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism to try to determine what Exxon and other US oil companies had really known about climate science, and when,” Kaiser and Wesserman wrote in November.
Wasserman’s admission runs contrary to previous comments suggesting Exxon was never singled out when it donated $25,000 to InsideClimate News, an environmental news outfit that published similar reports in September.
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