The Texas oil industry has frequently found itself at the intersection at the intersection of federal law and politics. That intersection grew to include state law last March, when the attorney generals of both New York State and Massachusetts announced that they were investigating whether Exxon had deceived investors and consumers over climate change issues. The current Texas Legal News that will be of interest to all oil industry companies is that a Texas federal judge has issued a discovery order against the Massachusetts attorney general as part of a preliminary injunction request that Exxon has initiated against their investigation.
The state attorney generals issued broad subpoenas against Exxon in which they requested reams of documentation and information regarding the company's own internal investigations into climate change science. In issuing his discovery order against them, Texas Federal Judge Ed Kinkeade remarked that their public comments about the investigation suggested that they were motivated by "bad faith" and that they revealed a predetermined bias against the company. Exxon has argued that the attorney generals are pursuing the investigation out of a political agenda that is supported by environmental groups and other climate change activists. Judge Kinkeade's discovery ruling opens the door for Exxon to defend against the investigation and possibly even to shut it down before it leads to expanded allegations.
The Massachusetts attorney general attempted to rebut the Judge's order with jurisdictional arguments, stating that his Court lacked jurisdiction over her office's investigation. She nonetheless asserted her own jurisdiction over Exxon, even though Exxon has few assets in her state.
Climate change science will continue to be a key issue for fossil fuel companies in Texas and throughout the United States. The Posey Law Firm in Austin follows developments in science, as well as political and legal challenges that rely on that science, on behalf of its client base. Please contact us to schedule a consultation on how our legal and lobbying services can help your company when it is analyzing climate change issues.
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