In a victory for ExxonMobil, a federal judge in Texas has issued a discovery order against the Massachusetts attorney general in the hotly-contested investigation about whether the oil giant concealed information about climate change from investors and the public.This suit has been highly controversial. Environmentalists contend that Exxon "knew" of the hazards of greenhouse gases as early as 1976 (when scientists were worried about global cooling), and failed to notify shareholders. Several liberal state governors and attorney generals signed on initially, and then backed away as the legal resistance from Exxon threatened to embroil them in a counter charge of conspiracy. You can read between the lines that the Washington Post is not pleased with this development
But the district court judge said he would wait for the results of discovery by both sides before deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction against the Massachusetts attorney general as Exxon requested.
The new discovery order could open the door for an intrusive examination of Maura Healey’s internal phone records, other communications and depositions related to the Exxon case, a prospect Exxon relishes given the sweeping nature of subpoenas that the Massachusetts and New York attorneys general had obtained to investigate the company.
U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade said the “anticipatory nature” of public statements by Healey raised questions about whether she might have acted with in “bad faith” in launching a broad investigation into when ExxonMobil knew about compelling evidence showing mankind’s role in speeding up global warming through the burning of fossil fuels.
Pro-freedom groups decried the secrecy, and collusion of the states with environmental lobby in the process, and the threat to freedom of speech (initially, subpoenas were sent to energy friendly NGO groups as well).
The discovery on the phone records and emails in the Massachusetts Attorney General's office in should shed some some light on the inner workings of the attonerney general/NGO collaborations.
Also read Katy Brown's take on this at Watts Up With That: Federal Court Delivers Stunning Blow to Mass. AG and #ExxonKnew Campaign