Texas AG Ken Paxton sides with ExxonMobil in climate change case


Highlights

Paxton says Massachusetts and New York attorneys general are impinging on Exxon’s free speech rights.

Massachusetts and New York attorneys general say company may have deceived investors.

Paxton has intervened at least once before in ExxonMobil case.

Coming to the aid of a powerful Texas oil and gas company in a case involving climate change science, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday filed a brief in federal court in New York supporting ExxonMobil’s efforts to stave off an investigation by attorneys general in New York and Massachusetts.

Paxton’s friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, argues the ExxonMobil investigation has amounted to a fishing expedition that impinges on the company’s free speech protections.

Attorneys general from New York, Massachusetts and elsewhere, supported by environmental groups, said last year they would investigate whether the company lied to investors and the public about the threat of climate change.

Exxon is trying to block efforts by the Massachusetts and New York officials to subpoena company documents related to the marketing and sale of its products.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

In their friend-of-the-court brief, Paxton and 10 other state attorneys general ask the court to side with Exxon.

“The Constitution was written to protect citizens from government witch-hunts such as this one, where officials use their authority and the threat of criminal prosecution to try and suppress speech on a viewpoint they disagree with,” Paxton said.

In his suit, Paxton writes: “Defendants falsely presume that the scientific debate regarding climate change is settled, along with the related and equally important debate on how to respond to what science has found.”

In fact, the vast majority of scientists who study the issue have said the climate is changing and industrial emissions play a part.

The other states who joined the amicus brief are Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah and Arkansas.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

The case marks at least the second time Paxton has intervened in the case on behalf of Exxon.

Last year, Paxton withdrew a lawsuit against the U.S. Virgin Islands attorney general after he agreed to suspend his investigation, which had included a far-reaching subpoena for ExxonMobil records that Paxton had argued was unconstitutional.

Earlier this year, Paxton said that he had sued after talking the matter over with other members of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

The Republican Attorneys General Association has received at least $110,000 from Exxon Mobil since 2014, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, and at least $2 million from the fossil fuel industry.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Drone saves 2 swimmers at Australian beach
Drone saves 2 swimmers at Australian beach

The Little Ripper turned out to be a lifesaver for two Australian swimmers caught in churning surf. Australian lifeguards were testing a new drone during a practice session at a beach in New South Wales when they received a call about two swimmers caught in 10-foot swells, according to Surf Life Saving New South Wales and The New York Times...
Man arrested after road rage shooting involving Austin police officer, officials say
Man arrested after road rage shooting involving Austin police officer, officials say

Austin police have arrested a suspect who a Cottonwood Shores man said shot at his family and an off-duty Austin police officer in an apparent road rage incident in Burnet County. An off-duty Austin police officer stopped along RM 1431 during the November incident and intervened at the time, shooting and wounding the gunman, Austin police...
Texan gets panel’s nod for federal judge post over Democrats’ objections
Texan gets panel’s nod for federal judge post over Democrats’ objections

It has become a familiar scene at the Senate Judiciary Committee: A Texas nominee for a federal judicial post gets blasted by Democrats before being approved on a party-line vote. On Thursday, the committee, which includes both Texas GOP Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, considered the nomination of Matthew Kacsmaryk for a district judgeship in Amarillo...
Police: Man was racing when he crashed and killed 2 boys in Cedar Park
Police: Man was racing when he crashed and killed 2 boys in Cedar Park

An 18-year-old man arrested in the deaths of two young stepbrothers in a car crash last week in Cedar Park was racing when the wreck happened, police said Thursday. Hayden Michael Hammer was arrested and charged Thursday with two counts of racing on a highway causing death, a second-degree felony, Cedar Park police Cmdr. Bryan Wukasch said Thursday...
Anti-CodeNext PACs spend thousands to force vote
Anti-CodeNext PACs spend thousands to force vote

Campaign finance reports filed in Austin this week show that groups trying to put CodeNext on the ballot are raising and spending tens of thousands of dollars. Two special political action committees that are by and large against the city’s current revamping of the entire land use code, calling the effort “CodeWreck,” have spent roughly...
More Stories