Corporations Know Best: And Other Lies We Are Told

On Monday Jan 7th the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) denied ExxonMobil’s federal court appeal of a Massachusetts state ruling seeking to obtain internal records from the corporation.

The ruling supports Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, by affirming the state’s jurisdiction to seek records indicating that Exxon may have hidden its awareness of the role fossil fuels play in climate change. The case alleges that for decades Exxon Mobil has misled consumers and investors.

The Federal Court ruling is also a major win for the Attorney General’s lawsuit in New York, alleging that Exxon had systematically “schemed” to deceive investors about the negative impacts industry regulations would have on business.

Both lawsuits were filed after 2015 reports by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that Exxon scientists knew that the combustion of fossil fuels greatly contributes to climate change. These documents from the 70’s and 80’s form the basis of Healey’s civil suit against Exxon Mobil, as they indicate the company may have violated the state’s consumer-protection laws through its marketing and sale of fossil fuel products.

According to Reuters, Exxon Mobil has rightly characterized these investigations as politically motivated.  Indeed, if the health and wellbeing of our communities are ignored by corporations such as this who condemn others to death it certainly becomes a political issue: When corporate power and control run rampant through our political safe guards, it becomes clear that profit hungry corporations have already made this a political issue, and one which demands a political response.

Healey’s spokeswoman said “The law is clear. The Attorney General’s Office has the authority to investigate Exxon’s conduct toward consumers and investors, and we are proceeding. The public deserves answers from this company about what it knew about the impacts of burning fossil fuels, and when.” I could not agree more with her sentiments.