By Chris White
New York’s Supreme Court cleared ExxonMobil Tuesday of accusations that the oil producer deceived investors and customers about the negative effects fossil fuels have on the environment.
The court’s decision ends a nearly 4-year-long crusade against the company, which began in 2015 with an investigation and ended with a lawsuit lodged in New York. Exxon has long-held that its products contribute to climate change but says it has never lied to investors.
“The Court finds that the Office of Attorney General failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that ExxonMobil made any material misrepresentations that ‘would have been viewed by a reasonable investor as having significantly altered the “total mix” of information made available,’” New York State Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager wrote in a memo.
Exxon expressed relief.
“We provided our investors with accurate information on the risks of climate change. The court agreed that the Attorney General failed to make a case, even with the extremely low threshold of the Martin Act in its favor,” Exxon noted in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Manufacturers also weighed in on the decision. The lawsuit was a politically motivated witch hunt, Phil Goldberg, special counsel to the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project (MAP), said in a press statement to the DCNF.
MAP is a project the National Association of Manufacturers created to highlight the campaign against oil producers.
“Today’s ruling makes clear that politically-motivated investigations and legal actions against energy manufacturers over the shared global challenge of climate change have no place in the courtroom — whether they target one company or an entire industry,” Goldberg noted.
He added: “It was obvious at trial that the [attorney general’s] office was trying to impose liability on ExxonMobil for its viewpoints and for taking positions in policy debates with which it disagreed.” New York Attorney General (AG) Letitia James’s lawsuit accused the company of mass deception.
Exxon’s alleged deception “exposed the company to greater risk from climate change regulation than investors were led to believe,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in October 2018. Massachusetts filed a similar lawsuit in October alleging Exxon duped investors and the public about how climate change regulations might affect their investments.
James, a Democrat, dropped two of the AG office’s four fraud claims, instead basing the remainder of the lawsuit on an arcane New York law that allows the state’s top law officer to go after virtually any offense. She used the Martin Act, a state law that does not require proof of intent, to take on Exxon.
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