On March 15, 2022, the Second Circuit rejected an appeal brought by ExxonMobil attempting to block investigations by the New York and Massachusetts Attorneys General into historical claims made by Exxon regarding climate change. These cases have a long procedural history in both state and federal courts as Exxon has employed multiple procedural vehicles to attempt to halt the investigations. Generally, both investigations relate to whether Exxon intentionally mislead investors and the public regarding its knowledge and the risks of climate change. … More
Category Archives: Climate Change
This is the fourth post in this year’s series examining important trends in white collar law and investigations. Our previous post discussed trends in tax enforcement. Up next: trends in sanctions & export controls enforcement.
2022 is shaping up to be an interesting year for the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General. It marks Maura Healey’s final year as AG as she gears up for her run for governor. … More
This week, Judge Karen Green denied Exxon Mobil’s motion to dismiss claims brought by Massachusetts under its Consumer Protection Act. The complaint alleges that Exxon Mobil both mislead Massachusetts investors in its marketing to them of Exxon Mobil securities and mislead Massachusetts consumers in its marketing of its products to those consumers. Judge Green rejected Exxon Mobil’s arguments that it was not subject to jurisdiction in Massachusetts with respect to these claims. … More
Massachusetts AG Petitions DPU to Investigate Gas Industry Future in Light of Commonwealth’s GHG Emissions Goals
On June 4, 2020, the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General (AGO) filed a petition with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) requesting that the DPU open an investigation “to assess the future of local gas distribution company (LDC) operations and planning in light of the Commonwealth’s legally binding statewide limit of net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.” Citing Massachusetts’ Global Warming Solutions Act, and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Determination of Statewide Emissions Limit for 2020,… More
2019 marked the beginning of Maura Healey’s second term as Massachusetts Attorney General. So far, this term has seen an increased focus on issues surrounding climate change and e-cigarettes, and a continued focus on healthcare fraud. We expect to see even more focus on these areas in 2020.
Expect More Climate Change-Related Enforcement
Healey’s inaugural address listed climate change as one of the top priorities in her second term,… More
On October 24, 2019, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed a 200-page complaint against Exxon in Suffolk Superior Court, alleging violations of G.L. c. 93A, the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit is the culmination of a three-year long investigation that has been contested in state and federal courts in both Texas and Massachusetts.
The core legal theories espoused in the complaint resemble and also build upon allegations made by the New York Attorney General,… More
Led by California, 23 states, including Massachusetts, have sued the Trump administration challenging new federal regulations that strip the states’ authority to set their own vehicle emissions standards. On December 3, 2019, the administration moved to dismiss on procedural grounds, arguing that the D.C. District Court was the wrong venue, and that the case should have been brought before the D.C. Circuit for its direct review.… More
Yesterday, Judge Valerie Caproni dismissed claims brought by ExxonMobil against New York Attorney General Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Healey. Boiled down to their essence, ExxonMobil’s claims were that investigations by Schneiderman and Healey into the possibility that ExxonMobil had committed fraud by misleading investors regarding the risks that climate change poses to ExxonMobil’s business were politically motivated and in bad faith.
The decision was not difficult. … More
U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni on Thursday, November 30, 2017 heard argument on Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s motions to dismiss Exxon’s federal court challenge to their ongoing climate investigations. Law360 has reported that Exxon faced considerable skepticism, particularly of its arguments that the investigations impinged on Exxon’s freedom to participate in the climate change debate: “You don’t have the right to lie in your securities filings,… More
Initiative petition proponents filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office earlier this week 28 proposed initiative petitions that, if certified by the AG and endorsed by the requisite number of registered voters, could appear on the November 2018 ballot. (See this post for more details on the ballot initiative process.) Interested parties have until Friday, August 11 to (1) submit memoranda setting forth why the AG should or should not certify the measure,… More
Democratic Attorneys General have continued their efforts to combat the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back environmental regulations developed under the Obama administration in two recent actions. Thirteen AGs, including Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, sent a letter last week to Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, threatening legal action if the agency takes steps to weaken or delay the greenhouse gas emissions standards that were established in 2012 for cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2022-2025.… More
On Wednesday, Judge Ed Kinkeade ordered that Exxon Mobil’s suit against NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey be transferred to the Southern District of New York. The AGs must be breathing sighs of relief this morning.
It’s a very curious order. It’s 12 pages long, yet contains just one sentence explaining why the case is being transferred:
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is the proper venue for this case because “a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred” in New York City,… More
Exxon’s dispute with Massachusetts AG Maura Healey’s civil investigative demand related to Exxon’s knowledge of climate change both deepened and potentially widened in the last week.
First, on October 13, 2016 United States District Judge Ed Kinkeade handed down an order that will allow Exxon to conduct discovery on Healey’s motives for issuing the CID. The order stems from the AG’s argument, in moving to dismiss, that Exxon’s claim is improperly before the federal court in the Northern District of Texas pursuant to Younger v.… More
This week in the Northern District of Texas, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade heard oral argument on Exxon Mobil’s motion for preliminary injunction against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s civil investigative demand, issued to Exxon on April 19, 2016, which sought documents from Exxon related to its analysis of research efforts to study climate change. The argument followed two amicus briefs from state attorneys general across the country.
The first brief,… More
On June 15, 2016, Exxon sued Massachusetts AG Maura Healey in federal court in Texas, seeking to bar the enforcement of AG Healey’s April 19, 2016 civil investigative demand, issued pursuant to M.G.L. c. 93A, the Commonwealth’s unfair and deceptive practice statute. Under c. 93A, § 6, the AG may issue investigative demands “whenever [s]he believes a person has engaged in or is engaging in any method,… More
As we reported in April, the Attorney Generals of New York, California, Massachusetts, and the Virgin Islands have joined in a multistate investigation into Exxon’s knowledge of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change as far back as 1977. Part of that investigation includes a subpoena from the Attorney General of the Virgin Islands, seeking roughly forty years of records from Exxon related to alleged violations of Virgin Islands law. … More
What began with an investigation by NY AG Eric Schneiderman, later joined by California AG Kamala Harris, has become a multistate AG investigation into Exxon’s knowledge of the contributions of fossil fuels to climate change going back as far as 1977. On March 29, 2016, AGs from Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands announced that they were joining with the NY and CA AGs. … More
Kamala Harris Puts Exxon Under Her Microscope: California AG Reportedly Has Launched Review of Oil Giant’s Statements On Climate Change
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. … More