Students of history know that fighting a two front war is a hazard to be avoided. According to the L.A. Times, however, that is precisely the dilemma that now faces Exxon Mobil: dual investigations from attorneys general on each coast of the United States.
Several sources are reporting that California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office is examining what Exxon knew about the science of climate change compared with what the company told investors. The investigation was reportedly launched some time ago after published reports claimed that the company knew about the risks of climate change for decades while simultaneously funding a public relations campaign to discredit the underlying science. These same reports prompted New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to consider whether Exxon committed fraud under New York’s controversial Martin Act in November 2015 (see our discussion of that investigation here).
The California Attorney General’s office has not confirmed the nature or existence of any investigation. Exxon has steadfastly rejected all assertions that it suppressed climate change research. The list of inquisitors nevertheless may continue to grow. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have each called for the U.S. Department of Justice to initiate its own investigation.