California AG to Investigate what #ExxonKnew

January 26, 2016


California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris is investigating whether Exxon Mobil Corp. repeatedly lied to the public and its shareholders about the risk to its business from climate change — and whether such actions could amount to securities fraud and violations of environmental laws.

Harris’ office is reviewing what Exxon Mobil knew about global warming and what the company told investors, a person close to the investigation said.

The move follows published reports, based on internal company documents, suggesting that during the 1980s and 1990s the company, then known as Exxon, used climate research as part of its planning and other business practices but simultaneously argued publicly that climate-change science was not clear cut.

(US Rep. Ted Lieu, US Rep – Torrance)  said he hopes the decision by Harris, representing a state with the eighth-largest economy in the world, will prompt other states and the Justice Department to investigate.

San Bernadino County Sun:

This is welcome news. California is investigating whether Exxon Mobil Corp. misled investors about the causes and effects of climate change and the likely impact on the oil company’s business.

It’s welcome not because Exxon Mobil necessarily did anything wrong or deserves punishment. That remains to be seen.

It’s welcome because the investigation by state Attorney General Kamala Harris can help to reveal exactly what Exxon Mobil knows — and has known over the years — about climate risks.

And knowing what companies like Exxon Mobil know could make for a more informed debate about the realities of global warming and what should be done to mitigate damage.

Official responses to climate change have mostly been based on data turned up by government, academic and environmental groups’ research.

Isn’t that data convincing? Not to many people, particularly political conservatives, who charge that the research is inconclusive or even that researchers have cooked the books in order to further arguments for stepped-up government regulation of business and fossil-fuels consumption.

This should be a big issue in the November election. Republican presidential candidates ridicule Obama administration actions to combat climate change. Backers of the 195-nation agreement to curb carbon emissions fear that a Republican in the White House would seriously undermine the accord.

Would data showing historic increases in global temperatures be more convincing to more people if it was indisputably not the product of only ivory-tower researchers with possible axes to grind? Would it be different if the data came from private companies with billions of dollars on the line?

We may find out via the investigation by Harris’ office and a separate probe of Exxon Mobil by New York’s attorney general announced in November.

The investigations spring from news media reports last year showing the company has done its own research on climate change since the 1970s, and has been using that and other experts’ findings as the basis for planning; but at the same time, the company publicly questioned the existence of global warming and funded groups and politicians who fought against government-imposed measures to limit climate-changing emissions.

Triple Pundit:

California is not the only state to investigate ExxonMobil. In November, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into the company to determine if it lied to the public or investors about climate change risks. The state’s investigation is focused on statements Exxon made to investors, the New York Times reported.

Reports by various media outlets, including Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times, reveal that Exxon incorporated climate change into its plans and practices in the 1980s and 1990s, while publicly casting doubt on climate science. The Inside Climate News report details a shady company that researched climate-related risks starting in the late 1970s and through most of the 1980s, but didn’t inform the public or its investors.

In 1977, a senior company scientist spoke to oilmen at Exxon’s headquarters. The scientist, James F. Black, said: “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.”

Exxon’s response to Black’s warning was to launch its own research into carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. In 1979, Exxon “outfitted a supertanker with custom-made instruments,” Inside Climate News reports. The supertanker, which it spent over $1 million on for over three years, sampled carbon in the air and ocean as it made its way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Persian Gulf. A year later, the company put together a team that investigated carbon emissions and their effect on the climate.

In 1982, Exxon wrote a corporate primer on climate change and carbon emissions. In the primer, the company said dealing with climate change “would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion,” Inside Climate News reported. If that didn’t happen “there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered,” the primer stated. Exxon published its results in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences and an American Geophysical Union monograph.

Climate science expert James Hansen testified about climate change before Congress in 1988. After that, Exxon began to fund groups that cast doubt on climate change science and was a founding member of the Global Climate Coalition, a group of mostly U.S. businesses that oppose government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A Los Angeles Times investigation found that Exxon gave over $15 million to organizations that cast doubts on climate change from 1998 to 2005. But it wasn’t until 2007 that the company disclosed climate change risks to its shareholders for the first time.

3 Responses to “California AG to Investigate what #ExxonKnew”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    YES!! Pile on!! We will know that Exxon-Mobil’s goose is truly cooked when the denier know nothings in Looz’eeanna, Mizz’sipi, Joh’ja, Al’bamer, and the ever famous-for-not-being-the-first ones-to-secede-because-of-slavery South Car’linyuns decide to investigate.

    And will we soon see the Bevis and Butthead (Bates and Bailey) duo appear on this thread to sling BS against the wall to try to stem the flood of truth? Or, if the Gods truly hate us, will Adrian Vance?

    Where is Russell Cook? Has he come over from the dark side and is no longer whoring for Heartland? Compared to the latest crop of morons, Russell is a genius—I almost miss him. I took a look at his “website” (not to be named here because going there is a health hazard), and didn’t see anything new. (This statement of non-TAO there hasn’t changed, so maybe he’s just hiding from us—if all will remember, I DID challenge him to allow “open dialog” on his so-called website, and Russell soon after faded from view).

    [ * 10/28/14 Author’s note: I endorse the pledge of Transparency, Accountability, and Openness as advocated at the TAO of Journalism web site, but in a bit of full disclosure, I don’t feel I can sign the pledge because of my reluctance to allow all varieties of so-called ‘open dialog’ comments to be placed at my blog posts – which that site’s pledge mandates….)

    • You rang? Still living rent-free in your mind, I am, quite obviously. And by virtue of my appearance today, I haven’t faded from ClimateCrocks view in the least. For the record, I’ve never checked the little “Notify me of new comments via email” boxes below these comment post windows, I just save the permalinks to my own comments and bop back here for curiosity’s sake on sporadic occasions to see whether “d.o.g.” can stand and deliver on his claims that there is actual evidence proving skeptics are paid industry money to lie. Notice how “d.o.g.” feels compelled to not spell out the full context of my 10/28/14 Author’s note. There is a reason for that, and you can read it all here, including the bit where that asterisk is seen in the main text:

      So if “d.o.g.” challenged me to open a dialog in one of his comment barrages here, I missed it because I have other things to do. Answering ClimateCrock comments is not exactly a big priority when more fun can be had on hobby projects, bike rides in the nice weather, etc.

      Meanwhile, the “not to be named” website is, and any ClimateCrocks reader with the audacity to defy “d.o.g.”‘s warning about it will readily understand why he (remember, I’m assuming anonymous commenter “d.o.g.” is a ‘he’) doesn’t want anyone to look at it: there is something new there every few weeks. I started putting in short teasers some time last year for the interim gaps, to let loyal readers know what’s upcoming. Tune in now, and y’all will wonder what the next hammer hit is going to be. Li’l hint here, it will probably have to be another 4-part set of blog posts, it is hard to jamb all the faults I find into just one space.

      Believe I’m “hiding” if it gives ya comfort, but as ever, it still doesn’t matter one whit what you believe, it only matters what you can prove. ICYMI, my Dec 30 post utilizes a US Gov agency response to demonstrate how I’m not anybody’s employee, contractual or otherwise. Bring on all the conspiracy theory ya can make up about it, don’t disappoint us.

      And let me part with an agreement with “d.o.g.” By all means, bring on the investigations. As I said at one of the prior comments last year (I forget which), it’s your funeral. Never ceases to amaze me how y’all put all your eggs in one basket and are so oblivious to why that was and is such a monster mistake.

      • <=== The Streisand Effect backfires on "d.o.g."? One of my pals linked to my blog and I wasn't aware of it? Somebody in AGW-land commissioned people to scour my blog for lies? Blog visit counter glitch?

        My li'l ol' blog has been bumping along with a visit count gradually increasing from around 15 visits per day to over 20, indicating a small bunch of loyal followers tuning in each day to see what is new. But over the last two months, I've seen several 60-70+ one day spikes. In all honesty, I really hope it is from AGW believers who were sent in to find faults. The more of you who read it, the more Unrest is Born within your ranks, because all those narrative derailments within the 'industry-corrupted skeptic scientists' accusation stack up to a point that's unsustainable to manage.

        Luv "d.o.g."'s "'website not to be named here" line. For all those at ClimateCrocks, are you really going to let him dictate what you should see, or are you going to read for yourselves what all the fuss is about and make your own judgements? By all means, dive in, spot the lies, and write a guest post here with all your evidence to back up any accusations you have.

        Meanwhile, regarding "d.o.g."'s contention that there is nothing new there, try yesterday's blog post on for size: Then stay tuned for parts 2 through 5 or 6. It won't be a pretty sight for y'all.

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