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Massachusetts judge requires Exxon to hand over climate documents

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A Massachusetts judge has refused to excuse Exxon Mobil Corp from a request by the state’s attorney general to hand over decades worth of documents on its views on climate change, state officials said on Wednesday.

The decision by Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger denying Exxon’s request for an order exempting it from handing over the documents represents a legal victory for Attorney General Maura Healey, who is investigating the world’s largest publicly traded oil company’s climate policies.

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“This order affirms our longstanding authority to investigate fraud,” Healey said on Twitter following the decision, adding that Exxon “must come clean about what it knew about climate change.”

Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said the company was “reviewing the decision to determine next steps.”

Healey is one of two state prosecutors, the other being her counterpart in New York, investigating whether Exxon knowingly misled its shareholders and the public as to what it knew about climate change.

The investigations follow separate reports by online news publication Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times showing that Exxon worked to play down the risks of climate change despite its own scientists’ having raised concerns about it decades earlier.

The news came on the day former Exxon Chief Executive Rex Tillerson faced a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to serve as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state.

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Asked during the hearing if he believed human activity was contributing to climate change, Tillerson did not answer yes or no, but said, “The increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are having an effect. Our abilities to predict that effect are very limited.”

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Toni Reinhold and Leslie Adler)


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Actress Kelly Preston and wife of John Travolta dies aged 57 from breast cancer

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American actress Kelly Preston, who featured in hit films "Jerry Maguire" and "Twins", has died from breast cancer, her husband John Travolta said Sunday.

She was 57 years old.

"It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer," Hollywood star Travolta said on Instagram.

"She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many."

A family representative told People Preston died Sunday morning.

"Choosing to keep her fight private, she had been undergoing medical treatment for some time, supported by her closest family and friends," People quoted the representative as saying.

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New Zealand mosque shooter to represent himself at sentencing

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The gunman behind New Zealand's Christchurch mosque shootings sacked his lawyers Monday and opted to represent himself, raising fears he would use a sentencing hearing next month to promote his white-supremacist views.

Australian national Brenton Tarrant will be sentenced on August 24 on 51 murder convictions, 40 of attempted murder and one of terrorism arising from last year's massacre, the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's modern history.

He has pleaded guilty to the charges.

At a pre-sentencing hearing on Monday, High Court judge Cameron Mander allowed Tarrant's lawyers, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson, to withdraw from proceedings at the request of their client.

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China hits top US lawmakers, envoy with sanctions over Xinjiang

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China on Monday slapped retaliatory sanctions on three senior Republican lawmakers and a US envoy in a deepening row over Beijing's treatment of Uighurs in the western Xinjiang region.

Some of the most outspoken critics of China -- Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz along with Congressman Chris Smith -- were targeted by the action, as well as the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Sam Brownback.

The unspecified "corresponding sanctions" were announced days after the US imposed visa bans and asset freezes on several Chinese officials, including the Communist Party chief in Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo, over rights abuses in the region.

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