ExxonMobil under increased scrutiny
New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has launched an investigation into ExxonMobil to find out whether or not the company lied about the potential effects climate change has on both the environment and their finances.
Schneiderman’s investigation wants to know if Exxon took part in deceptive business practices and fraud. Exxon now has to hand over their climate studies and financial records, which will be heavily scrutinized throughout the investigation.
It is suspected that Exxon may have known about global warming and its effects on the environment back in 1981 but buried their discovery. Had the public known that there was a link between fossil fuels and climate change 27 years ago, carbon-cutting regulations might have been implemented, which may have been the reason behind Exxon’s silence. Exxon’s former climate expert, Lenny Bernstein, was the one that exposed the company’s past knowledge of global warming in an email responding to an Ohio University inquiry on business ethics.
“Exxon first got interested in climate change in 1981 because it was seeking to develop the Natuna gas field off Indonesia,” wrote Bernstein in the email. “This is an immense reserve of natural gas, but it is 70 [percent] CO2.”
Exxon has spent over $30 million to fund global warming denial tactics in an attempt to convince the public that their company’s practices have no effect on the environment. Schneiderman believes the company has lied to investors by covering the impact global warming could have on their business. If Exxon had been honest about global warming when they first found evidence of the potential harm, it may have done some financial damage to the company. However, covering up their research seems to have caused an even bigger PR disaster that could lead to both legal and financial troubles.
Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon, has denied all of the allegations made against the company, which could make for a drawn out investigation. As Schneiderman continues to put pressure on Exxon, environmental groups have shown their support for the attorney general’s actions. Bill McKibben, the co-founder of 350.org, showed his support by saying: “New York’s attorney general has shown great courage in holding to account arguably the richest and most powerful company on Earth.”
Will the biggest oil company in the world be affected by this PR problem? Is it likely that charges will be brought against Exxon? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.