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

Woman sues Austin parking garage after car plummeted seven stories
Woman sues Austin parking garage after car plummeted seven stories

The woman whose car plummeted from the seventh floor of a downtown parking garage last month has sued the garage’s owner and its management, alleging they were negligent by not upgrading a cable barrier system that failed to keep the car from going over the edge of the building. Cedar Park resident Christi Bowmer, 49, is asking for more than...
5 places in Austin to meet your new plant friend
5 places in Austin to meet your new plant friend

A plant makes regular things great. A porch. A coffee table. A windowsill. A desk. Put a plant on it.  Not quite sure where in Austin you’re going to find your next plant? We’ve got five nurseries and garden centers to wander in until you do. This is where you can find your next plant -- the one that you “definitely won&rsquo...
Regional warning system wants to contact you in case of emergency
Regional warning system wants to contact you in case of emergency

In case of disaster, please leave your name and number. That’s the message from authorities across Central Texas on Wednesday, as they encouraged residents to sign up for WarnCentralTexas.org, an alert system in place for past few years that allows first responders to more easily reach the public during emergencies. “At the 2011 (Bastrop)...
UPDATED: Man dies from gunshot wounds in Rundberg Lane, EMS says
UPDATED: Man dies from gunshot wounds in Rundberg Lane, EMS says

A man in his 20s was shot and killed in North Austin on Wednesday afternoon, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said. Austin police and medics responded about 1:40 p.m. to a 911 call coming from the Palo Santo Apartments at the 1800 block of West Rundberg Lane. Officers found the victim with obvious signs of trauma and performed life-saving measures...
Travis DA appeals Kleinert police shooting case to U.S. Supreme Court
Travis DA appeals Kleinert police shooting case to U.S. Supreme Court

The Travis County district attorney’s office on Wednesday filed a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal Charles Kleinert’s police-involved shooting case from 2013. In its final effort to bring criminal charges against Kleinert for killing Larry Jackson — an unarmed black man — the DAs office attacks a U.S. judge&rsquo...
More Stories