ExxonMobil Ordered To Turn Over Documents To AG
By NBP Staff | January 12, 2017, 7:01 EDT
A Massachusetts judge has ordered ExxonMobil to comply with the state Attorney General’s request for data concerning carbon dioxide emissions dating back to 1976.
Judge Heidi E. Brieger issued the order in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Wednesday.
Attorney General Maura Healey has argued that ExxonMobil has violated the state’s consumer protection law (known as Chapter 93A) by misleading customers in Massachusetts by withholding internal data that tended to show that emissions from gasoline would damage the environment and lead to climate change.
In June 2016 the company moved to set aside the Attorney General’s demand for records.
ExxonMobil has argued that the demand for records “is politically motivated, that Exxon is the victim of viewpoint discrimination, and that it is being punished for its views on global warming,” the judge noted.
But the judge found that state law “gives the Attorney General broad investigatory powers to conduct investigations whenever she believes a person has engaged in or is engaging in any conduct in violation of the statute.” (Emphasis is in the original.)
The company has claimed that Massachusetts courts don’t have jurisdiction over it because the company hasn’t owned or run Exxon and Mobil gas stations for the past five years. Instead, they are franchised.
But the judge found that the company maintains enough control over the marketing and selling of its products by franchise holders in Massachusetts to allow for state court jurisdiction over it.
The company has also argued that Healey should be disqualified for her public statements criticizing the company over climate change. But the judge found that it is reasonable for a prosecutor to inform constituents about the actions she takes.
The judge also refused to grant the company a stay until a federal judge in Texas rules in a case the company brought there seeking protection from Healey’s request.
Brieger ordered both sides to submit a joint status report to the state court in Boston by February 15.