New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched a fraud investigation in 2015 to look into whether Exxon hid what it knew about climate change and how it would impact its business from investors. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey followed up with a similar probe earlier this year.
Schneiderman has already reviewed some documents from Exxon, but had to sue the company and its auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, in order to get them to comply with a subpoena for additional documents.
Exxon has denied wrongdoing and filed a lawsuit against Schneiderman and Healey claiming that the investigations launched by the two attorneys general amounted to a political attack. Exxon sued Healey in June in an attempt to block her from investigating the company, calling the probe "nothing more than a weak pretext for an unlawful exercise of government power to further political objectives." The oil company added Schneiderman to that lawsuit in November.
"Attorneys General Schneiderman and Healey have joined together with each other as well as others known and unknown to conduct improper and politically motivated investigations of ExxonMobil in a coordinated effort to silence and intimidate one side of the public policy debate on how to address climate change," the amended complaint reads.
A judge in Texas initially granted Exxon's request to depose Healey in person, but the judge reversed that order this week.
The investigations into Exxon have drawn scrutiny from the House Science Committee, led by climate change-denying Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX). Smith has accused the attorneys general as well as environmental groups of initiating an "unprecedented effort against those who have questioned the causes, magnitude, or best ways to address climate change."
The committee has issued subpoenas to both Schneiderman and Healey for their communications with environmental groups about Exxon and climate change. Schneiderman and Healey have fought the subpoenas, arguing that the committee would be interfering in a state criminal investigation, and the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) has argued that with the subpoenas Smith was "harassing" the state attorneys general.