The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on Monday ExxonMobil's bid to block a probe by the attorney general of Massachusetts who is trying to obtain records from the American energy giant in her investigation.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, is investigating whether the Texas-based energy company misled the American public and investors by hiding its knowledge on the link between fossil fuels and climate change.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in April 2018 ruled that Healey has jurisdiction to seek records for her investigation obliging ExxonMobil to hand over the documents sought by Healey.
ExxonMobil appealed the ruling by stating that Healey cannot seek documents in an investigation that is based in the state of Massachusetts, since the company is incorporated in the state of Texas.
However, the justices of the Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear the company's appeal, clearing the way for Healey to obtain documents from the firm during her investigation.
"The law is clear. The Attorney General's Office has the authority to investigate Exxon's conduct toward consumers and investors, and we are proceeding. The public deserves answers from this company about what it knew about the impacts of burning fossil fuels, and when," said Chloe Gotsis, a spokeswoman for Healey, according to international media.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision, ExxonMobil did not issue a statement on its website.
A U.S. federal judge dismissed a lawsuit in July 2018 that was brought by New York City against five major oil companies in early January that year, which tried to hold those firms accountable for their role in climate change.
In the case that was brought against BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, New York City was seeking billions of dollars in damages claiming that the oil majors contribute to climate change.
John F. Keenan, U.S. district court judge for the Southern District of New York, however, dismissed the case by stating that the legislative and executive branches, rather than the judiciary should determine the issue.
New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood filed a lawsuit in October 2018 against ExxonMobil by arguing that the company misled investors about the risks that posed to its business through climate change.
By Ovunc Kutlu