More Oil Companies Could Join Exxon Mobil as Focus of Climate Investigations

09-Nov-2015

HOUSTON — The opening of an investigation of Exxon Mobil by the New York attorney general’s office into the company’s record on climate change may well spur legal inquiries into other oil companies, according to legal and climate experts, although successful prosecutions are far from assured.

Many oil companies have funded lobbying efforts and research on climate change, so prosecutors would most likely be able to search through vast amounts of material. The industry has also resisted pressure for years from environmental groups to warn investors of the risks that stricter limits on carbon emissions could have on their businesses, although that appears to be changing.

“Exxon Mobil is not alone,” said Stephen Zamora, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center. “This is not likely to be an isolated matter.”

Energy experts said prosecutors may decide to investigate companies that chose to fund or join organizations that questioned climate science or policies designed to address the problem, such as the Global Climate Coalition and the American Legislative Exchange Council, to see if discrepancies exist between the companies’ public and private statements. (by Clifford Cross, New York Times)