OpeOluwani Akintayo, with agency report
Lagos –– A New York attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp, accusing it of misleading investors about the risks of climate change regulations to its business.
Exxon Mobil on Tuesday was due to face the trial in the lawsuit, according to Reuters report.
The trial, expected to begin before Justice Barry Ostrager in Manhattan Supreme Court and last up to three weeks, could feature testimony from Rex Tillerson, who was Exxon’s chief executive before serving as U.S. Secretary of State.
It is the first of several lawsuits currently pending against major oil companies related to climate change to go to trial.
“The New York Attorney General’s allegations are false,” Exxon said in a statement. “We tell investors through regular disclosures how the company accounts for risks associated with climate change. We are confident in the facts and look forward to seeing our company exonerated in court.”
The New York attorney general’s office had no immediate comment on Monday.
The attorney general sued Exxon in October 2018 under the Martin Act, a New York state law that had been used primarily to go after financial fraud.
The lawsuit claimed Exxon falsely told investors it had properly evaluated the impact of future climate regulations on its business using a “proxy cost” of up to $80 per ton of carbon emissions.
However, these proxy figures frequently were not used in its internal planning or cost assumptions, according to the lawsuit.
The attorney general also accused the company of failing to account properly for the costs of potential regulation in determining the value of its oil and gas reserves, or whether to write down the value of its assets.
Massachusetts is separately investigating whether Exxon concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels play in climate change.
Both Massachusetts and New York began investigating Exxon after news reports in 2015 saying its own scientists had determined that fossil fuel combustion must be reduced to mitigate the impact of climate change.