ExxonMobil has asked a federal court to invalidate a subpoena issued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, citing “increasingly political and biased” statements from the attorney general.
The request was filed as part of a motion to amend a pending action to invalidate a similar civil investigation demand issued by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
The company’s amended complaint was filed in a federal court in Fort Worth, Texas.
Schneiderman and Healey have been conducting investigations into whether Exxon properly disclosed potential business risks tied to climate change.
A Texas judge is currently considering if he will throw out a subpoena issued by Healey requesting information from Exxon.
U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade said last week that he was concerned that Healey issued her subpoena while presupposing what her investigation would find, according to Bloomberg.
Kinkeade also expressed concern about a closed-door meeting Healey attended with environmentalist and other attorney generals one day before a joint press conference announcing plans to probe Exxon.
“Attorney General Schneiderman has publicly accused ExxonMobil of engaging in a ‘massive securities fraud’ without any basis whatsoever, and Attorney General Healey declared, before her investigation even began, that she knew how it would end: with a finding that ExxonMobil violated the law,” Exxon said in its amended complaint.
Schneiderman also attended the joint press conference.
“The improper political bias that inspired the New York and Massachusetts investigations disqualifies Attorneys General Schneiderman and Healey from serving as the disinterested prosecutors required by the Constitution,” Exxon said.
Exxon confirmed in November that it received a subpoena from Schneiderman for documents “relating to climate change.”
Schneiderman’s office has not publicly commented on the case.
Exxon said on Monday that the investigations being conducted by the two attorney generals are “biased attempts to further a political agenda for financial gain.”
The company said it has been cooperating with the New York investigation of its nearly 40-year history of climate research since it began last year and it has turned over more than 1 million pages of documents.
Exxon has previously denied any wrongdoing and has noted 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.
Reports of the Schneiderman’s probe broke last year following reports from InsideClimate News and the L.A. Times alleging that Exxon utilized climate change data to make operational decisions while working to publicly downplay science on global warming.
Exxon said on Monday that recent comments made by Schneiderman indicate his office has “abandoned the original pretext for the investigation.”
The company said Schneiderman’s office is now evaluating whether Exxon’s reserves can be “produced in the future because of global efforts to address climate change,” a situation known as the stranded-asset theory.
Exxon said in its filing that Schneiderman’s probe into the stranded-asset theory is “particularly egregious because it cannot be reconciled with binding regulations issued by the SEC, which apply strict guidelines to the estimation of proved reserves.”
Sources told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asked both Exxon and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the company’s auditor, for information and documents.
The SEC is reportedly looking into how Exxon calculates potential future costs related to complying with climate regulation and how those costs could impact the economic viability of projects.
Exxon said on Monday that the “SEC is the appropriate entity to examine issues related to reserves and other communications important to investors.”
Exxon added that it’s fully cooperating with an SEC request for information and is “confident its financial reporting meets all legal and accounting requirements.”