A federal judge in Texas has bounced a court battle between ExxonMobil and the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts to a court in New York, a decision that “marks a setback for the Dallas-based oil giant,” InsideClimate News reports.
Exxon had “until recently had enjoyed a home court advantage before the bench of U.S. District Court Judge Ed Kinkeade,” ICN notes. “Kinkeade has voiced sympathy with Exxon and skepticism over the attorneys general investigations into whether the company’s climate record amounted to fraud.”
But Kinkeade decided the case, initiated by Exxon, belonged in a New York courtroom, since it turns on a 2016 news conference in that state by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “The merits of each of Exxon’s claims involve important issues that should be determined by a court, however, this Court is not the proper venue to rule on the merits of Exxon’s claims,” he wrote.
Kinkeade, appointed to the bench in 2002 by George W. Bush, produced an 11-page preamble to his decision that reiterated many of Exxon’s arguments against the investigation.
“The Court is uncertain if it is common practice for attorneys general to begin to investigate a company after reading an article that accuses a company of possibly committing wrongdoing decades ago,” he wrote, referring to an ICN investigative report on what #ExxonKnew about the dangers of climate change as early as the 1970s.
“What the Court does know is that Exxon has publicly acknowledged since 2006 the possible significant risks to society and ecosystems from rising greenhouse gas emissions, yet the attorneys general have only recently felt compelled to look further into Exxon’s documents from the last 40 years to see if Exxon knew more than it shared with the public and investors about climate change.”