Energy

California AG Candidate Will Make State’s Reluctance To Target Exxon A Campaign Issue

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Chris White Tech Reporter

One of the candidates running against California Attorney General Xavier Becerra plans on turning the Democrat’s unwillingness to investigate ExxonMobil into a major campaign issue.

Dave Jones, a former California congressman who has become one of Becerra’s chief rivals in the 2018 election, told reporters Monday that he will spend his political campaign walloping the California AG’s reluctance to target Exxon’s climate history. Becerra says it is against state policy to discuss possible AG-led investigations.

“Were I attorney general I would be fully engaged with New York and Massachusetts in demanding that Exxon produce documents and I’d be conducting a thorough and complete investigation,” said Jones, who serves as California’s Insurance Commissioner.

He was referring to New York AG Eric Schneiderman’s nearly year-long probe into whether Exxon duped investors about the oil company’s knowledge of climate change. Jones has become a steadfast opponent of fossil fuels, telling reporters last year that coal production represents a considerable risk to California’s insurance companies.

“I can think of no reason why we would delay in that investigation,” Jones said, adding that California should have leaped into the fray earlier instead of letting others take the lead. “California is a leader with regard to climate change and climate risk and we ought to be fully engaged playing a leadership role in the investigation of Exxon.”

One of Becerra’s former colleagues, state Rep. Ted Lieu, also wants to know why the Democrat has not announced a probe. Lieu has staked out a position in California’s legislature as a die-hard environmentalist.

“I don’t really understand the policy of the California Attorney general’s office,” Lieu told reporters earlier this year. “It’s different than other attorney general’s office where they will publicly acknowledge whether they are investigating or not.”

Becerra, a Democrat who became the state’s lead AG in 2016, is etching out a position on Exxon that is nearly identical to that of his predecessor, now-Sen. Kamala Harris. She also refused to publicly acknowledge the existence of an investigation until her Senate campaign began.

Schneiderman’s case against Exxon was initially based on claims the oil company downplayed for decades the severity of global warming, but it has evolved over the course of several months.

His probe is now focusing on the company’s internal carbon price proxy that he says was lower than they presented to public investors.

Much of Schneiderman’s initial investigation was based on reports from liberal-leaning media outlets InsideClimate News and Columbia University, both of which claim Exxon has known the risks of global warming for decades but kept such knowledge under wraps. The Los Angeles Times was also involved in the reports.

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