Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Image courtesy of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office/Facebook.

The attorney generals of Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands said Tuesday they will launch probes into whether ExxonMobil failed to disclose information about climate change.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Earl Walker said they will begin investigations to determine if Exxon misled investors and the public about the risks posed by climate change.

“Fossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be held accountable. That’s why we have joined in investigating Exxon Mobil,” Healey said.

Exxon has denied any wrongdoing and added that it has included information about climate related business risks for many years in its 10-K, Corporate Citizenship Report, and in other reports to shareholders.

Exxon vice president for public and government affairs Suzanne McCarron told Reuters that the company believes the probes are “politically motivated” and added that the company is “actively assessing all legal options.”

There are currently 17 attorney general offices cooperating on probes to determine if oil and gas firms have misled shareholders about the risks posed by climate change, Reuters said.

New York Attorney Eric Schneiderman, who was also present during Tuesday’s press conference, sent a subpoena to Exxon in November requesting documents relating to climate change.

The Attorney General’s Office of California is also conducting a similar investigation.

News of the probes comes just three weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice referred a request made by two California congressman to investigate Exxon to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI will now determine whether an investigation is warranted.

No official investigation has been ordered yet and the FBI is not obligated to begin a probe.

The request for a federal investigation was prompted by reports published last year by InsideClimate News and the L.A. Times that claim Exxon used climate data to make operational decisions while working to publicly undermine climate change research.

Exxon called those reports “inaccurate and deliberately misleading.”

The Rockefeller Family Fund singled out ExxonMobil last week when it announced that it will divest from its fossil fuel holdings.

“We would be remiss if we failed to focus on what we believe to be the morally reprehensible conduct on the part of ExxonMobil,” the fund said.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ruled last week that Exxon must allow shareholders to vote on a resolution that would require it to disclose specific business risks posed by climate change or legislation related to climate change.

The proposal will be voted on during Exxon’s annual shareholder meeting in May.


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