Climate Inquisition: ExxonMobil Sues Massachusetts AG for Civil Rights Violations

Exxon Climate Change
AP File Photo/LM Otero

Irving-based ExxonMobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM) launched a counteroffensive against the ongoing effort to target American energy companies for presumed politically incorrect viewpoints by left wing attorneys general. The Texas energy giant accused Massachusetts AG Maura Tracy Healey of violating its civil rights in federal court Wednesday.

In a strongly-worded, 33-page complaint brought by the Texas energy company, ExxonMobil accused General Healey of violating several civil rights protections and unlawful interstate commerce intervention while colluding with other attorneys general and private third parties. Without a permanent injunction and other granted forms of financial relief from the federal courts, the company expects to only be further harmed, according to documents obtained by Breitbart Texas.

A critical moment in ExxonMobil’s case civil against General Healey centers on a meeting in March 2015, when she and 19 other attorneys general comprising the “Green 20” declared their collective intent to target the company and others like it with subpoenas and related political actions. The complaint alleges that Healey’s promise of an investigation into the company was prejudiced by her expectation that it would “reveal ‘a troubling disconnect between what Exxon knew’ and what it ‘chose to share with investors and with the American public’.” The pleading repeatedly makes note of Healey and her associates’ political biases as the primary driver for their legal pursuits.

The State of Massachusetts’ effort to probe whether ExxonMobil “committed consumer or securities fraud by misrepresenting its knowledge of climate change” was summarily deemed “a weak pretext for an unlawful exercise of government power to further political objectives,” according to the document. The company claims that it has “for more than a decade” recognized the “risk of climate change and its potential impacts”.

On April 19, ExxonMobil was served a subpoena to further study energy and securities sales potentially occurring within the Commonwealth. The company claims that it neither sold fossil fuel products nor owned and operated a single retail location there in at least five years. Further, it sold no equity to the public there during the same time period. The complaint argues that the demands for documents related to activities outside of the Commonwealth were out of bounds.

General Healey’s “effort to silence, intimidate, and deter those possessing a particular viewpoint” rises to the level of a claimed First Amendment violation, according to the court filing. ExxonMobil argues that Massachusetts’ 40-year timeline for document demands “constitutes an abusive fishing expedition” in violation of its Fourth Amendment protections while Healey’s public commentary about the company presents an addition due process concern – leaving ExxonMobil doubting it is on the receiving end of a “disinterested prosecution”. The company raises additional issues of interstate commerce regulation and procedural violations as well.

The lawsuit hopes to halt the enforcement of Massachusetts’ subpoena and be granted other forms of relief the court feels ExxonMobil is entitled to, including the costs of litigation.

The Irving company’s docket is not limited to Massachusetts, however. Breitbart Texas previously reported on how Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton moved to intervene in a then-state court battle brought by the U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker in May. Texas decried the Virgin Islands’ similar “abusing the power of the subpoena” and warned that if left unchecked, “anyone can be criminally investigated” for viewpoints not acceptable to incumbent political powers. In response, the Virgin Islands relocated its case to a federal district court, where the parties continue to disagree on jurisdiction and venue for the matter, according to the complaint.

Outside of the courtroom, ExxonMobil has been fending off attempts from activist investors to force internal climate policy reforms. A May 2016 shareholders meeting ended when investors voted in large margins against the hiring of new climate experts and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) disclosures, according to a separate Breitbart Texas report.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a U.S. Senate candidate and member of the Green 20, recently brought criminal charges against Houston-based Plains All-American Pipeline L.P. (NYSE: PAA) after a leak was discovered downstream from ExxonMobil plants near Refugio State Beach.

ExxonMobil’s lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division. A copy of the complaint has been provided below.

Logan Churchwell is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. You can follow him on Twitter @LCChurchwell.

ExxonMobil Lawsuit


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