New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman.Image courtesy of Eric Schneiderman/Flickr.

The New York Attorney General’s Office has launched a probe into allegations that ExxonMobil misled the public and investors about the effects of climate change.

According to the New York Times, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena to Exxon on Wednesday seeking emails, financial records and other documents.

The probe follows investigations published by InsideClimate News and the L.A. Times that allege the company utilized research on global warming to make operational decisions while also publicly working to undermine climate change research.

Exxon has denied any wrongdoing, calling the reports “inaccurate and deliberately misleading.”

A source told the NY Times that the attorney general’s investigation began about a year ago and may include information dating back to the 1970s.

The company confirmed Thursday that it received the subpoena and added that it has included information about the business risk of climate change for many years in its 10-K, Corporate Citizenship Report and in other reports to shareholders.

Exxon vice president of public affairs Kenneth P. Cohen told the NY Times that the company has backed away in recent years from supporting groups that were “undercutting the actual risk” of climate change.

California representatives Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Walnut Creek) wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch last month asking the DOJ to asses whether the firm failed to disclose “truthful information” about climate change.

The congressmen also asked the DOJ to determine if Exxon violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO.

The DOJ has not commented on the matter yet.

Exxon has defended its record on climate change, noting that it has an active research program into lower-carbon emission technologies, such as algae and cellulosic-based biofuels, and has supported a revenue-neutral carbon tax since 2009.

“The facts are that we identified the potential risks of climate change and have taken the issue very seriously….We recognize that our past participation in broad coalitions that opposed ineffective climate policies subjects us to criticism by climate activist groups. We will continue to advocate for policies that reduce emissions while enabling economic growth,” Cohen said last month.


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