The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for the attorney general of Massachusetts to obtain records from Exxon Mobil Corp(XOM.N) to probe whether the oil company for decades concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels play in climate change.
The justices declined to hear Exxon’s appeal of a ruling by the top court in Massachusetts holding that state Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, had jurisdiction to seek records to probe whether the company misled consumers and investors.
The high court’s action marked the latest setback for Exxon in its efforts to halt the Massachusetts investigation and a similar one by New York’s attorney general, who in October filed a lawsuit against the company.
New York’s lawsuit accused Exxon of engaging in a systematic scheme to deceive investors about the impact that future climate change regulations could have on its business. Exxon has called the claims “meritless.”
The Massachusetts and New York investigations were launched following 2015 news reports that Exxon’s own scientists had determined that fossil fuel combustion must be reduced to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Photos of the week: 12/28 - 1/4
Photos of the week: 12/28 - 1/4
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 02: A sign informs visitors that the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian is closed due to the government shutdown on January 02, 2019 in New York City. As President Donald Trump continues to insist on money to build a wall along the Southern border of the United States, the partial government shutdown and the standoff with Democrats continues. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is surrounded by children as she is sworn in as House Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives at the start of the 116th Congress inside the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
MAGNITOGORSK, RUSSIA - JANUARY 1, 2019: Russian Emergency Situations Ministry employees rescue an 11-month-old child from the site of an apartment block collapse. On December 31, 2018, a domestic gas explosion caused a partial collapse of a residential building at 164 Prospekt Karla Marksa Street killing eight people and leaving dozens missing. Video Screen Grab/Press Office of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry/TASS (Photo by TASS\TASS via Getty Images)
A reveler celebrates as confetti falls during a New Year's celebration in New York's Times Square, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman Democrat representing New York's 14th Congressional District, takes a selfie with Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-NH, and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., on the first day of the 116th Congress with Democrats holding the majority, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Saudi men fire weapons as they perform a traditional dance during Janadriyah Cultural Festival on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 1, 2019. Picture taken January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 3: The day's numbers for the Dow Jones Industrial Average are displayed on a screen at the Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square, January 3, 2019 in New York City. U.S. stocks dropped again on Thursday after Apple warned that its first-quarter sales would be less than expected. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
A migrant jumps the border fence to get into the U.S. side to San Diego, Calif., from Tijuana, Mexico, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Discouraged by the long wait to apply for asylum through official ports of entry, many migrants from recent caravans are choosing to cross the U.S. border wall and hand themselves in to border patrol agents. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 01: Serena Williams of the United States and Roger Federer of Switzerland take a selfie following their mixed doubles match during day four of the 2019 Hopman Cup at RAC Arena on January 01, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Flanked by first lady Michelle Bolsonaro, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro waves as he rides in an open car after his swearing-in ceremony, in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
The numbers "2019" are written in the air with a sparkler near a tourist camp outside Krasnoyarsk, Russia, December 31, 2018. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 02: U.S. President Donald Trump (C) leads a meeting of his Cabinet, including acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt (L) and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, in the Cabinet Room at the White House January 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. A partial federal government shutdown entered its 12th day as Trump and House Democrats are at an impasse over funding for border security, including the president’s demand for $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
An aerial view of Sirnaresmi village after being hit by landslides at Cisolok district in Sukabumi, West Java province, Indonesia, January 2, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/M Agung Rajasa/ via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A worker cleans up the area after New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square in New York City, U.S., January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Pope Francis plays with a ball as members of Circus of Cuba perform during the Wednesday general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican January 2, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A telecommunications tower is seen on the top of a snow-covered slope on Mount Parnitha, near Athens, Greece, January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Giorgos Moutafis
A woman walks a dog with styled and dyed fur on a street in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China December 25, 2018. Picture taken December 25, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Emergency Situations employees working at the scene of a collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 people, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. Russian emergency officials say that at least four people have died after sections of the apartment building collapsed after an apparent gas explosion in the Ural Mountains region. (AP Photo/Maxim Shmakov)
A worker lights a brazier on a cold winter day at an enclosure for giraffes inside a zoo in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China December 28, 2018. Picture taken December 28, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 03: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) receives the gavel from Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) during the first session of the 116th Congress at the U.S. Capitol January 03, 2019 in Washington, DC. Under the cloud of a partial federal government shutdown, Pelosi reclaimed her former title as speaker and her fellow Democrats took control of the House of Representatives for the second time in eight years. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
This image made available by NASA on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019 shows images with separate color and detail information, and a composited image of both, showing Ultima Thule, about 1 billion miles beyond Pluto. The New Horizons spacecraft encountered it on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (NASA via AP)
Kevin Andres, a Mexican migrant child from Oaxaca, crawls to get his backpack from the barbed wire after jumping the border fence to get into the U.S. side, to San Diego, from Tijuana, Mexico, Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. Discouraged by the long wait to apply for asylum through official ports of entry, many migrants from recent caravans are choosing to cross the U.S. border wall and hand themselves in to border patrol agents. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
A man gets ready backstage before performing in the 35th Cochin Carnival, which is held annually to welcome the start of the New Year at Fort Kochi in the southern state of Kerala, India, January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Sivaram V TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
This Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, photo shows Lookout Studio in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. While parts of the national park were closed due to the partial government shutdown, much of the park's South Rim was open and accessible. (AP Photo/Anna Johnson)
A man dressed as Ded Moroz, the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus, helps a member of the Cryophile amateur winter swimmers' club, who walks into the icy waters of the Yenisei River during an event marking the New Year and Christmas season, with the air temperature at about minus 26 degrees Celsius (minus 14.8 degrees Fahrenheit), in Krasnoyarsk, Russia December 30, 2018. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man watches the fireworks exploding over Copacabana Beach during the New Year's celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
The temperature is below minus 20 degrees Celsius. The mouth of a swan in the park has been frozen. Bozhou, Xinjiang, China, December 29, 2018.PHOTOGRAPH BY Costfoto / Barcroft Images (Photo credit should read Costfoto / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
BANTEN, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 28: An Indonesian woman salvages materials from her restaurant which was washed 30 meters across a road by the tsunami on December 28, 2018 in Banten, Indonesia. Flights have been rerouted and the alert lever for the Anak Krakatau Volcano raised to the second highest level as it continues to erupt sending massive clouds of ash into the air nearly a week after the volcano caused a deadly tsunami killing over 400 people.(Photo by Ed Wray/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump, left, listens as Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, talks about border security, Thursday Jan. 3, 2019, after making a surprise visit to the press briefing room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Boxing - Floyd Mayweather v Tenshin Nasukawa - Saitama Super Arena, Tokyo, Japan - December 31, 2018 Floyd Mayweather knocks down Tenshin Nasukawa in the first round REUTERS/Issei Kato TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The buildings of the banking district are reflected on the plain surface of the river Main in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Jose Antonio Aznarez, center, gestures as enjoys the natural thermal bath (52 Celsius) of the Cidaco River on a cold winter morning in the small village of Arnedillo, northern Spain, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Rescue workers at the site of a train accident on Great Belt Bridge in Nyborg, in Denmark, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. At least six people were killed and 16 others injured early Wednesday when a Danish passenger train apparently hit falling cargo from a passing freight train as it crossed a bridge linking central Denmark's islands. Police spokesman Lars Braemhoej said that while "we do not know precisely what caused the accident," one possible cause was that cargo from a passing freight train fell off and hit the passenger train. He added there was "considerable damage" on the passenger train. (Tim Kildeborg Jensen/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 01: Chaka Khan, Grand Marshal of the 130th Rose Parade Presented By Honda 'The Melody Of Life' on January 01, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)
A make-up artist decorates the hair of a woman in the shape of Santa Claus during the New Year preparations in Ahmedabad, India, December 31, 2018. REUTERS/Amit Dave TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Penguins are seen during an event to publicise the annual stocktake at London Zoo in London, Britain, January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A girl eats as she plays while taking a bath at a rural area in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) greets Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) before a ceremonial swearing-in picture on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
GLEN ETIVE, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 04: Deer graze in the Highlands on January 4, 2019 in Glen Etive, Scotland. Britain’s largest wild animal, The Red Deer, roam on open moorlands around the country during the summer and move to lower ground into forests and wood for shelter during the harsh Scottish winters. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
People play ice hockey on the frozen "Lac des Tailleres" lake (1040 meters above sea level) on the Jura mountain massif in La Brevine, Switzerland, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
Those news reports, by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times, were based on documents from the 1970s and 1980s. Exxon said the documents were not inconsistent with its public positions.
Healey in 2016 issued a civil investigative demand to Exxon seeking documents to investigate whether it had violated the state’s consumer-protection law through its marketing and sale of fossil fuel products.
Exxon said that because it is incorporated in Texas and New Jersey, Healey had no basis to seek documents to conduct a Massachusetts-based investigation.