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Exxon Loses Appeal to Revive Suit Over State Climate Probes (1)

March 15, 2022, 7:57 PM

Exxon Mobil Corp. lost its appeal to revive a 2016 lawsuit claiming the Democratic attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts were motivated by politics when they opened investigations into the energy giant’s statements to investors about climate change.

The claim against New York AG Letitia James, dismissed in 2018, is moot because she closed her probe after losing a landmark lawsuit against Exxon in 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled Tuesday. The claim against Massachusetts AG Maura Healey also fails because Exxon could have brought them in a related state-court case, the court held.

“We are pleased with the Second Circuit’s decision today, which rejected Exxon Mobil’s baseless attempts to challenge state law enforcement efforts,” James said in a statement.

Exxon wanted to revive the case so it could seek the return or destruction of documents that the company gave New York during the investigation. It also sought an injunction directing New York “to curtail the policies that led to the issuance of the offensive subpoenas in the first place,” according to the ruling. But the court held such relief wasn’t warranted.

“Exxon has not alleged any facts to suggest continuing harms from the now-ceased investigation and resolved enforcement action, and the alternative relief that it seeks could only address entirely hypothetical future harms,” the court said in its ruling.

Exxon spokesman Casey Norton, in a statement, said the company is “reviewing the decision and evaluating next steps.”

While New York’s probe and litigation with Exxon is over, Massachusetts is still pursuing a wide-ranging suit accusing the energy company of misleading investors and consumers about the impact of climate change on its business. A judge in 2021 denied Exxon’s motion to dismiss the suit.

Read More: Big Oil’s Climate Change Reckoning Has Finally Arrived in Court

(Updates with comment from the New York attorney general)

To contact the reporter on this story:
Erik Larson in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Katia Porzecanski at

Steve Stroth

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