New York investigating Exxon over climate statements: source

Exxon Knew About Climate Change Decades Ago

The New York attorney general has launched an investigation into whether Exxon Mobil Corp misled the public and shareholders about the risks of climate change.

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Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed the company on Wednesday evening, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents, a source familiar with the investigation said on Thursday.

Exxon on Thursday said it was weighing a response to the subpoena. The company has included information about the business risk of climate change for many years in its quarterly filings, corporate citizenship report and in other reports to shareholders, company spokesman Richard Keil said.

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New York investigating Exxon over climate statements: source
With AFP Story by Michael MATHES: US-politics-environment-climate,INTERVIEW Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, holds a placard which he had with him during his speeches on the floor of the Senate during an interview with Agence France-Presse at his office in the Hart Senate Office Building on May 14, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. On Monday, May 18, 2015, the two-term Democrat offers his 100th Senate floor speech on climate change -- an unprecedented three-year odyssey demanding Republicans address one of the more pressing concerns of the 21st century. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 2: U.S. President Barack Obama, seen through an oval office window, reportedly speaks on a conference call hosted by the American Lung Association and other public health groups to discuss the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) climate change regulations for carbon pollution from power plants June 2, 2014 in Washington, D.C. The obama adminstration announced regulations that are aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, center left, speaks while participating in a roundtable discussion on the impacts of climate change on public health with Vivek Murthy, U.S. surgeon general, second from left, Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), second from right, and Charlotte Wallace, sustainability coordinator at Anne Arundel Medical Center, third from right, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. President Obama is warning that climate change will start affecting Americans' health in the near future and he's recruiting top technology companies to help prepare the nation's health systems. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - JULY 7: Lilyana Distler, 4, of Waldorf, Md., holds a sign during a 'play-in' protest by kids and mothers in Upper Senate Park organized by Moms Clean Air Force, July 7, 2015. About 400 gathered to support the EPA's Clean Power Plan and call attention to climate change and air pollution. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: poses backstage during Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day on National Mall to end extreme poverty and solve climate change on April 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Global Citizen)

The New York Times first reported the news on Thursday.

The Exxon investigation might expand to other oil companies, according to the people with knowledge of the case, though no additional subpoenas have been issued, the newspaper said.

Sources told the New York Times that the attorney general's investigation began a year ago and encompasses company filings dating back to the 1970s.

Last month, a broad array of environmental groups demanded the U.S. Department of Justice investigate Exxon after reports by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times said the company's own scientists raised worries about global warming decades ago only to see their findings doubted by executives.

However, Ken Cohen, vice president of public and government affairs at Exxon, has accused environmental groups of deliberately cherry-picking facts. He said on Thursday that for nearly 40 years the company has worked with governments and universities to develop climate science in a transparent way.

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Since 2009, the company has supported what it calls a revenue-neutral carbon tax as the preferred policy for reducing emissions.

Coal miner Peabody Energy Corp had been under investigation by the attorney general for two years over whether it properly disclosed financial risks related to climate change, but has not resulted in any charges or other legal action against the company, the NYT report added.

Only within the last five years has the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission required companies to disclose climate risks to investors and Exxon has made the appropriate filings.

Climate risks for oil companies are normally thought to include, among other things, a crackdown by governments on carbon emissions that might hurt oil sales.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover and Sudarshan Varadhan in Bengaluru and Anna Driver in Houston; Editing by Terry Wade and Lisa Shumaker)

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