ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil Climate 'Fraud' Follies Update: Activist 'Conspirators' Don't Shred Your Documents

What did the Union of Concerned Scientists know and when did it know it?

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AUCPGoreNYAG
NYAG

In a legal "what's sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander" move, ExxonMobil's lawyers have sent letters demanding that various environmental activist groups preserve any and all documents and emails related to any joint planning they did with the Attorneys-General United for Clean Power. The AUCP group is probing into how the oil company may have fraudulently its misled investors about climate change. As part of this investigation, the AUCP group led by New York Attorney-General Eric Schneiderman has sought four decades of documents from the company including those related to its contacts and support of researchers, think tanks, and activist groups who have been skeptical of predictions of catastrophic man-made climate change. Of course, this kind of legal fishing expedition would have the effect of chilling speech that the mostly Democratic attorney-generals and their activist friends dislike.

Now the company is apparently relying on a recent ruling by Federal District Court judge Edward Kinkeade who says that he is concerned that the legal assault by the AUCP on ExxonMobil is being done in "bad faith." Consequently Kinkeade is seeking similar planning documents from AUCP participant Massachusetts Attorney-General Maura Healey.

From the Washington Post:

Lawyers for ExxonMobil have told a variety of non-governmental organizations to preserve all communications regarding climate change investigations with a sweeping array of other groups and individuals — including members of the press.

The letters from Exxon's lawyers Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison said the groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Rockefeller Family Fund, should hang onto communications with individuals such as former vice president Al Gore and William McKibben, a Middlebury professor and leader of the environmental group 350.org. …

"Our request to preserve documents is focused on groups or individuals directly involved in a campaign to discredit our company using false allegations and mischaracterizations of the company's history of climate research and communications with investors," Alan T. Jeffers, an ExxonMobil spokesman, said in an email. "We have no choice but to defend ourselves against politically motivated investigations that are biased, in bad faith and without legal merit."

"We did not start this, but we will see it through and will vigorously defend ourselves."

Naturally, the activist groups are resisting the possibility that their internal communications could be handed over to ExxonMobil:

"How tragic that the management of a once great corporation would permit itself to devolve into a civic bully committed to intimidation of public interest advocates," [Lee] Wasserman, [director of the Rockefeller Family Fund], said. …

"We're not a party to this litigation," said Kenneth Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It raises questions about how an [non-governmental organization] like UCS can be dragged into a legal fight between Exxon and the attorney general."

He added that it would "very burdensome" for the group to comply if a court or prosecutor were to issue an actual subpoena to produce such documents.

"The letter that we received from ExxonMobil's lawyers signals that the company is planning a massive fishing expedition into UCS's internal e-mails and communications with others, including the press," Kimmell said in an email. "We don't see how this relates to the company's current disputes with the New York and Massachusetts Attorneys General, and it appears to be yet another effort to intimidate us from exposing climate science deception."

While some may enjoy a sense of schadenfreude at the expense of self-righteous activists, it is time for all sides to abandon and forever eschew this abuse of administrative subpoenas law in the service of suppressing disfavored free speech. I am certainly not a constitutional law scholar, but it seems to me that it is past time to abolish administrative subpoenas which are issued at the sole discretion of would-be prosecutors. Instead, prosecutors, including state attorneys-general, should be required seek a warrant from neutral courts as provided by the Fourth Amendment when seeking documents from private citizens and organizations.

NEXT: Libertarian Assemblyman John Moore of Nevada Censured by the Libertarian National Committee

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  1. A couple of background points. Froman old comment of mine:

    Behold the Climate Accountability Institute.

    They held a workshop and published a report:

    And finally, the group sought to identify the most promising and mutually reinforcing intellectual, legal, and/or public strategies for moving forward. We are pleased to share the outcome of these preliminary workshop discussions. Among the many points captured in this report, we want to highlight the following:
    ? A key breakthrough in the public and legal case for tobacco control came when internal documents came to light showing the tobacco industry had knowingly misled the public. Similar documents may well exist in the vaults of the fossil fuel industry and their trade associations and front groups, and there are many possible approaches to
    unearthing them.

    The damning passage starts on page 7.

    Check out page 34 for the list of participants. Some interesting names there.

    1. So no less than 4 highly ranked members of the UCS were directly involved with this workshop. And yet this is simply a dispute between 2 AGs and ExxonMobil.

      WOW. I say fucking subpoena their asses the same way the left does. That is the only way to get people to realize what is wrong with it.

      1. Too little, too late.

        The Left was happy to prop up the government behemoth by taking over the tobacco industry and making smokers fill their coffers.

        Can you fucking imagine how much money they can suck out of Big Oil? Certainly enough to keep the teetering mess afloat for another decade or two.

        1. Exactly.

          Never under estimate the conniving schemes of a parasite.

        2. They already take 30-50 cents a gallon plus 25% of profits.

          1. Which just means there’s a lot more where that came from.

          2. They already take 30-50 cents a gallon plus 25% of profits.

            But subsidies! FYTW!

            /prog

    2. I weep for the future.

      1. I hope assange goes after Al Gore’s fat ass one day.

        Dana Carvey sad he sounds like a gay forest gump.

  2. And incidentally, the claim that Exxon is being investigated for misleading people about climate change is no longer correct. That was the original path:

    There are three different allegations to date that I know of:

    Allegation 1: Exxon knew in the 70’s and 80’s that CO2 was dangerous and tried to cover it up from their shareholders. Reality according to the documents – Exxon knew in the 70’s and 80’s that CO2 was a greenhouse gas and were concerned it might be dangerous. They funded development of some early primitive GCM’s that showed it might be a problem, it might not. There is no evidence they tried to manipulate the GCM’s to make CO2 benign and plenty of evidence that they did not. As the IPCC became ever more politicized they withdrew gradually from funding research. Their warnings to shareholders were based on IPCC summaries.

    So that allegation collapsed

    Allegation 2: Exxon knew recently that they would probably be unable to pump all the oil reserved they had, due to the Paris Accord. Thus valuing these stranded assets above 0 was misleading to shareholders about the value of the company.

    Exxon’s response: We can’t predict what politicians will do, but governments closing off oil fields has been happening ever since the oil industry started, and we warn investors that we operate at a risk of governments shutting down components of our business.

    That allegation has collapsed

    1. Allegation 3: The recent collapse of oil prices has had companies writing down the value of their oil reserves. Exxon has not joined the pack. Ergo Exxon is misleading investors into thinking they are worth more than they actually are.

      Exxon’s response: We conservatively value our oil reserves ($65 per barrell IIRC). These valuations are consistent with the expected price of oil a few years out (true last I checked). Ergo we didn’t write them down because we didn’t write them up when oil prices were high.

      I expect that Schneiderman is desperately searching for something, anything(!) to pin on Exxon in an effort to claim they misled shareholders.

      Because his original plan – to unearth documents that Al Gore’s crowd could use to leverage a version of the Tobacco settlement that would provide Al Gore’s empire of anti-fossil fuel activist orgs a steady source of income is in tatters. At this point he is tryign to save himself, because he’s pretty much in Nifong territory and he knows it.

      1. Tarran, your analysis is excellent… a little too excellent… *strokes persian cat*

        Are you on the legal team, because your knowledge of the details here is second to none.

        1. Yes tarran thank you for the informed analysis.

          1. Thirded. I meant to save money his the first time you posted it. I’ll save this one.

            1. *meant to save this*… fucking phone

        2. Ixnay on the Estionsquay, Paul.

      2. Do they ever succeed with these kinds of things? Is there no professional embarrassment that comes from every piece spaghetti you’ve tossed at the wall falling to the floor?

        1. It’s about the mess they create…

        2. Is there no professional embarrassment

          Not on the left. Pretty much ever.

        3. It’s a game.

          The ‘Hey, we tried but wow they’re so stoopid and corrupt we can’t do much game but hey we tried’ game.

          In my somewhat layman and zero-sum take, either they’re blind environmental cultists willing to eschew any shred of decency where freedom of opinion is concerned or they don’t give a rat’s ass about all this climate change crap and are into padding their cv’s and stoking their ambitions.

          1. don’t give a rat’s ass about all this climate change crap and are into padding their cv’s and stoking their ambitions.

            I’m learning as I get on in years that it’s more likely option B.

        4. Look they intended for the spaghetti to stick to the wall, that’s all that matters. What kind of a right-wing rube cares about results?

      3. Has it been stipulated that CO2 is “dangerous”?

        1. Also, it is worth noting that Exxon/Mobile does not produce CO2. They produce gasoline. Billions of people produce CO2, including all the AGs and most prodigiously, Al Gore. J’ACCUSE!!

      4. Your analysis is accurate under rational circumstances, but there are problems. What the state AGs and the NGOs will do is find one or two emails that say something different – not matter the level of the employee or whether the analysis is correct (i’m talking math errors) — and claim Exxon should have gone with that. They get a sympathetic jury and suddenly Exxon is paying billions.

  3. it is time for all sides to abandon and forever eschew this abuse of administrative subpoenas law in the service of suppressing disfavored free speech

    HAHA, good one.

    1. How do Mexican standoffs typically end?

      1. With Mexico paying for the wall, from what I hear.

        1. MAGA.
          /waves American flag manufactured in Mexico

      2. With Clint Eastwood using some form of subterfuge to kill the bad guy.

      3. Bridget Von Hammersmark shoots Wilhelm.

    2. It’s guaranteed that every proggy is out there rabidly foaming at the mouth.

      “Evil corporations” shouldn’t be able to do this, they’ll be vomiting all over every forum.

  4. Corporate attorneys are often the best check and balance against government over reach.

    Therefore, I applaud any kind of scorched earth tactics by the ExxonMobil lawyers against the jackbooted thugs and their boot lickers.

    I will be cheering them on. I hope they destroy all in their path. I am confident that they have more money and twice the IQ.

  5. ‘…it is time for all sides to abandon and forever eschew this abuse of administrative subpoenas law in the service of suppressing disfavored free speech. ‘
    All sides… this is principally the work of one side, and they wont stop until they feel the pain themselves. As long as it’s a one way street for them, they will continue.

  6. As long as the legal tool exists, distasteful or not, it would be unwise for Exxon to not take advantage of it. The UCS and their ilk are certainly of “the ends justify the means” crowd and will not refrain from using any tool at their disposal.

  7. Doesn’t there typically have to be an injured party to bring suit against someone else? Or AGs allowed to just investigate anyone they want?

    1. They were suing on behalf of the shareholders. Supposedly.

      1. So there must be at least one shareholder who initiated things, right?

        1. Doubt it. If “authorities” think a crime occurred, they can pretty much bring charges on behalf of anyone regardless of the “victim’s” willingness to press charges.

      2. Ironically Exxon’s response is on behalf of the shareholders too.

        One of these sides is conveniently lying about how much they CARE about the shareholders.

        Hint: It not the company the shareholders are invested in.

    2. I didn’t read anything about anything but I’m going to spin a wheel, throw a dart, and……. Fraud! They are investigating them for fraud, which is a crime against the “people” which makes it fair game for any and all AGs.

  8. 40 years of document? Is there a law stipulating as to how long companies must hang on to documents?

    1. I was wondering the same thing. I thought you had to keeps records for 10 years max. Likely less than that?

    2. 7 years is a common length of time. 40 is ridiculous.

      1. The tax dept makes us keep everything finance-related for 10. Legal makes us keep contracts and archived e-mails in perpetuity.

        1. My company has regulations about that stuff – obviously I don’t remember the exact numbers for each type of document but I don’t recall “in perpetuity” being one of them either. Yikes.

          1. I’m in IT, so the department’s “in perpetutity” only goes back to like 1980. They may let us dispose of them eventually, but they haven’t given any indication as to when that would be.

            Mine is an old industrial company that still deals with legal matters over shit that happened decades ago, so I bet that informs their thinking. It has actually helped on a few occasions, most of which involved the greedy shits at Oracle.

            1. They may let us dispose of them eventually, but they haven’t given any indication as to when that would be.

              And you can look forward to innumerable day-long meetings in which the details are very gradually hammered out…

          2. Every place I’ve worked, you specifically have a written policy of destroying them the moment you’re no longer legally required to retain them, just to avoid this sort of thing. There’s way too much downside and not nearly enough upside in having extra chuckleheaded emails/documents in the hands of the mafia government.

            1. Our chucklehead emails get wiped after 60 days. Users have to specifically choose which messages should be archived and discoverable in accordance with the wordy policy they can opt out of at any time, which relegates everything but their recent e-mails to the ether.

              This gets fun when sales execs (because it’s always sales execs) stamp their feet and demand we find and restore from backups a super important e-mail from three months ago because the company’s very future is at stake. This is inevitably followed by their most senior manager being asked by the heads of HR, IT, and Legal why he allows morons to work here.

    3. I suspect that Exxon has a policy of destroying documents beyond x number of years.

      1. If they don’t, they aren’t the corporate villains I once admired.

  9. No, Lee, Exxon aren’t being “civic bullies”. They’re standing up to the State bullies you side with.

      1. Lee Wasserman, I suspect. Mentioned (briefly) in the article.

        1. ahhhhhh…… got it

            1. As far as I’m concerned, all Lees are on my watchlist now.

              1. Why don’t you’all just lee ‘im alone?

                1. Never spit windward, always spit leeward.

              2. Even Bruce Lee, you monster?

  10. “How tragic that the management of a once great corporation would permit itself to devolve into a civic bully committed to intimidation of public interest advocates,”

    “Tragic”. It ain’t just a river in Egypt.

    1. You’re not allowed to defend yourself if you’re a business (big or small), like, EVER.

    2. Tragically my skin is now in the game.

      /derptard

  11. the mostly Democratic attorney-generals

    Grammar Nazi bait, and not even consistent throughout. -8 points.

    1. Are you one of the passer-bys?

      1. I’ve been posting here for a decade. Super happy I’ve made such an impression.

        I clearly need a better handle.

        1. Nah, you just need to come up with something to make you stand out. For example, with Sevo, he’s “Stevo” without the Christ! GET IT???

      2. Passer-byes, you mean.

        It comes from when two people say “bye!” after they’ve passed each other.

        1. I thought it referred to bag ladies — you know, that kind you’d fuck if they had a bag on their head — the pass ‘er by type.

          1. I would also have accepted passer-buys.

            More colloquial, at times used in conjunction with “bogart” and “puff-puff-give”…

    2. But, he got it right later in the article. The trick I use is that they are attorneys, not generals; passers, not bys, etc.

  12. While some may enjoy a sense of schadenfreude at the expense of self-righteous activists, it is time for all sides to abandon and forever eschew this abuse of administrative subpoenas law in the service of suppressing disfavored free speech.

    Ideally, sure. But Exxon is completely justified in going scorched-earth if their persecutors aren’t going to stop using such underhanded tactics. This is figuratively war, you do what you must to win.

    1. The blood won’t really flow until the sanctions kick in.

  13. Who was the custodian of record keeping the list of Iron Laws again?

    1. Sug is our Justin Foote*, but most of the Iron Laws were handed down by RC.

      (*)The name of a long line of hereditary archivists of the Howard Families in Heinlein’s works. Sug is an actual archivist, and has an uncanny ability to retrieve appropriate comments on demand.

  14. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. Im using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I do,

    —————- http://www.Max43.com

  15. As if those advocacy groups aren’t allowed to communicate with government officials. I’m sure the NRA doesn’t believe that. Which only highlights the difference with Schneiderman…in NY under the Martin Act companies are not allowed to engage in fraud.

    Interesting that evidently the FBI is investigating whether or not Exxon violated federal racketeering laws. Who knows…if they decide the company didn’t violate those laws, Comey might just hold a press conference to say that while no laws were broken, Exxon did mislead the public, and was sloppy in their management. And maybe he will voluntarily go before congressional Dems and explain that in detail.

    I’m sure if that happened, Exxon would say “Hey, either charge us or just shut up.” And of course they would be right. Most commenters here would disagree.

    1. Jackass Ass is here!!!

      Blah, blah, blah, blah, senate committee, bullshit NY law that is blatantly unconstitutional, progressive gaia love, … how dare you not bow to the proggie climate agenda!!! Comey! Comey!! totally unrelated bullshit….

      Blah blah blah.

      F* off Slaver!!

    2. “Interesting that evidently the FBI is investigating whether or not Exxon violated federal racketeering laws. Who knows…if they decide the company didn’t violate those laws, Comey might just hold a press conference to say that while no laws were broken, Exxon did mislead the public, and was sloppy in their management. And maybe he will voluntarily go before congressional Dems and explain that in detail.”

      Did you just wet your pants, asshole?

      1. +1. By the way, Joe, how is that surgery holding up, where your ankles were grafted onto the base of your knees?

      2. Actually, he just lied.

        The FBI isn’t investigating Exxon. At least not that I’ve heard. In fact the political appointees in the Justice Department (the FBI’s bosses) declined to get involved because they were smarter than the state AG’s.

        Joe wishes the FBI would investigate, to give it some kind of symmetry. Of course, if the FBI were investigating it would still be an unjustified witchhunt.

        Because Exxon isn’t hiding evidence that Climate Change is dangerous. Their interpretation of evidence in the public domain is both reasonable and differs from the interpretation of a subset of government officials and green activists. And no amount of investigation will find a crime that doesn’t exist.

        This is, of course, different than the case of Clinton, where the FBI laid out serious, willful violations of the laws governing handling confidential information, laws governing storing government records, and spoliation of evidence under subpoena. That they then claimed hilariously that all these serious crimes were ones no prosecutor would charge anyone was laughable – especially in light of the fact that people are doing stretches in prison for the first and the third as we speak.

        Soe joe is lying, but telling a stupid lie than really doesn’t matter.

        That really sums up the loser IMHO.

          1. That was in january last year. Joe.

            In March, Lynn wrote in an email that the Justice Department wasn’t going forward and wishing Al Gore and his band of superstitious science deniers good luck.

            My suggestion, stop peddling lies. IT does your cause no good. It just makes us laugh at you more.

            1. Try March of this year. But reading was never one of your strong suits.

              1. The date stamp on the letter is?

                January 12, 2016!

                When did the justice department admit they weren’t pursuing criminal or civil racketeering charges?

                On March 9, 2016!

                I’m done with you. You are literally too stupid and uneducated to be worth interacting with.

                1. One last thing, back in October of 2015, the conspiracy tried to see if the DOJ would pursue RICO and were told that the chances of the DOJ taking the case were “slim to none” because there were no quantifiable health effects of producing CO2 emissions.

                  For RICO to work, you have to have some crime with a victim who was harmed.

                  The tobacco industry could be nailed for giving its customers lung cancer, buyt Exxon’s customers aren’t being harmed. They buy gas, or plastics and use them to their benefit.

                  That’s why they had to manufacture a case that Exxon was somehow harming its shareholders by somehow misleading them. The problem is that Exxon’s pronouncements have been evidence based. Sure, one could quibble that their judgement of the meaning of the evidence is incorrect, but they are documenting why they form their conclusions, and the evidence those conclusions are based on are part of the public record.

                  Since Exxon’s shareholders have plenty of data with which to form their own opinions as to whether the company is a good investment or not, and can buy or sell their shares easily. Most shareholders of Exxon are institutional investors who are quite capable of doing due diligence. And the fact that the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity based on observations appears to lie well within the band that Exxon’s scientists predicted publicly it would be and that oil prices are generally tracking where Exxon expects them to fall, it’s hard to argue that Exxon misled people.

            2. By the way, best we can tell that is still going on…no notice that they have dropped it.

              But you might be able to look forward to one of those FBI press conferences about all things internal to Exxon. Should be great, eh?

            3. Here is another link for you. Do note the date…March, 2016.

              Once again, thanks for your idiotic reply.

              http://thehill.com/policy/ener…..ims-to-fbi

              1. From your link, asshole:

                “The Department of Justice (DOJ), which received multiple requests to probe Exxon for potential legal action, has sent the case to the FBI for its consideration, it told a pair of Democratic lawmakers.”

                Do you see ANYTHING about the FBI investigating Exxon?
                There is dumb, dumber, really, really stupid and then there’s that fucking liar Jack.

          2. Oh. look! Jack once again found a link that proves he’s a fucking liar!
            Way to go, Jack!

      3. Yeah, RICO is a two-edged sword. Of course, I’m sure those AGs do not envision that it could ever be used against them, being the King’s Men and all.

    3. As if those advocacy groups aren’t allowed to communicate with government officials.

      I don’t see in the article where anybody suggested otherwise. Perhaps you can point it out to me?

      Of course, if the advocacy groups and government officials are colluding to commit fraud or abuse government power, they should be held accountable for that, yes? In the very least, if the AGs are misusing their powers to pursue their personal agenda the voters of their respective states have a right to know this, yes?

      And if the advocacy groups and their government allies are completely on the up-and-up, those communications will all be clean as a whistle, so no worries, right?

    4. “We’re not a party to this litigation,” said Kenneth Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It raises questions about how an [non-governmental organization] like UCS can be dragged into a legal fight between Exxon and the attorney general.”

      And yet the workshop that Tarran posted the minutes for, had no less than 4 senior members of the UCS arguing for attorneys-general to do EXACTLY what the NY and MA AGs are doing.

      But AGs are the good guys and they NEVER bring cases against those who don’t deserve it.

      1. Why, yes, Kenny, yes it does. Your take-away from this is to not stick your nose where it doesn’t belong. Ever heard the phrase “unindicted co-conspirator,” Kenny? You might want to look that up; it’s an actual thing.

    5. Don’t you want to talk about how awesome the Martin Act is?

      It’s totes awesome to watch the government go after someone sinister with the full power afforded them under the law.

      Reminds me of the FBI.

  16. LOL, we’re just an innocent ole advocacy group. Why are you bullying us? Classic.

  17. Who was the guy who simply replied to them with ‘Fuck Off’? I need to reread that story for the warm feeling it gave me.

    1. Alex Epstein twittered “Fuck off, fascist!” at Tailgunner Maura Healey.

      So I wrote the Attorney General a three-word response that is not appropriate for a family publication. See it here.

      That is all she deserved but it’s worth elaborating on some of the legal, moral, and scientific questions involved, particularly since the word “fraud” has been thrown around.

      The government has no right to demand a single email of mine or Exxon’s unless it has evidence that we are committing fraud by concealing or fabricating evidence. In the case of the climate impact of CO2, this is impossible?because all the evidence about CO2 and climate is in the public domain, largely collected and disseminated by government agencies or government-funded educational institutions.

      What ExxonMobil is being prosecuted for is expressing an opinion about the evidence that the government disagrees with. Or, in the case of the #ExxonKnew meme, they are being prosecuted for failing to express an opinion the government agrees with.

  18. Attorneys-General United for Clean Power

    Attorneys-General for anything sounds like a group of people willing to use their legal power for political purposes.

  19. “How tragic that the management of a once great corporation would permit itself to devolve into a civic bully committed to intimidation of public interest advocates,” [Lee] Wasserman, [director of the Rockefeller Family Fund], said. …

    You what else is tragic? A vast fortune, acquired by innovation and resourcefulness, has been turned over to these idiots.

  20. EXXONMobil Truthers!

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