Exxon Mobil subject of probe regarding climate change research

New York's attorney general is examining statements by Exxon Mobil and Peabody Energy to determine whether they deceived investors about the causes and impacts of climate change, an official familiar with the investigations said Thursday.

Peabody Energy also contacted as New York's attorney general investigates

An Exxon spokesperson cited the company's work with a UN panel on climate change, as well as dozens of patents for innovations to cut emissions. (Gene J. Puskar/The Associated Press)

New York's attorney general is examining statements by Exxon Mobil and Peabody Energy to determine whether they deceived investors about the causes and impacts of climate change, an official familiar with the investigations said Thursday.

A subpoena was sent Wednesday to Dallas-based Exxon after a yearlong review of shareholder disclosures, said the official, who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the probes and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office sought similar documents on climate change from St. Louis-based Peabody in 2013, which the company disclosed last year.

A spokesman for Schneiderman declined to comment Thursday. New York's attorney general has authority under the state's Martin Act to investigate and prosecute securities fraud.

Exxon spokesman Scott Silvestri said the company has received the subpoena and rejects allegations in media reports that it suppressed research. Silvestri said that for years, Exxon has provided shareholders information about the business risks of climate change.

'ExxonMobil recognizes ... climate risks are real'

He cited "ExxonMobil's nearly 40-year history of climate research that was conducted publicly in conjunction with the Department of Energy, academics and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

"ExxonMobil recognizes that climate risks are real and responsible actions are warranted," Vice President Ken Cohen told reporters in a conference call late Thursday.

He said scientists have publicly issued nearly 150 papers and obtained nearly 300 patents for technological advances in cutting emissions.

"Beginning in the last decade, we've informed shareholders and investors on our perception of the business risks associated with climate change through regulatory filings, our annual corporate citizenship report and in other reports to shareholders," Cohen said.

InsideClimate News reported on the New York investigation earlier Thursday. The nonprofit publication reported on its own investigation earlier this year that found documents showing Exxon recognized in the late 1970s the possible threat to its own existence from global warming, said John Cushman, an editor.

Company researchers later confirmed the emerging scientific consensus that doubling carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels would warm the earth with unpalatable effects, Cushman said.

At Peabody, spokeswoman Kelley Wright said the company continues to work with the Attorney General's Office "regarding our disclosures, which have evolved over the years."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.