An investigation has been launched by the New York Attorney General against oil and gas corporation Exxon-Mobil, into allegations that the company lied to the public about the effects of fossil fuels on the Earth’s climate, and to investors, regarding how said change might affect their business. Exxon-Mobil was subpoenaed earlier this month to hand over documents relevant to the case, including emails and financial records.

Earlier this year, leaked internal documents from Exxon showed that the company conducted extensive research in the late 1970s and early 1980s that showed that the continued widespread use of fossil fuels would result in an increase in global temperatures. Exxon then embarked on a campaign to quash the question of climate change through government lobbying and disinformation, going so far as to interfere with the Kyoto Protocol conference in 1997.

This new investigation will focus primarily on the potential financial impact of Exxon’s actions on their investors: while previous lawsuits brought against fuel companies over similar charges have fallen through, New York state law offers the attorney general broad powers in the investigation of financial fraud. As part of Exxon-Mobil’s repeated assurances that the use of fossil fuels does not contribute to climate change, they led investors to believe that oil stocks sill had long-term value, despite mounting evidence that would indicate that the need for a shift away from fossil fuel use would decrease their value.

The case is being likened to litigation brought against tobacco companies over their deceiving the public in regards to the effects of smoking on people’s health. Insider sources have indicated that this case may expand to involve other oil companies as well. 

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