Massachusetts’ top court on Friday rejected Exxon Mobil Corp’s bid to block the state’s attorney general from obtaining records to investigate whether the company for decades concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels play in climate change. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Attorney General Maura Healey had jurisdiction to seek records to probe whether the oil company’s marketing or sale of fossil fuel products violated the state’s consumer protection law. The ruling marked another setback for Exxon after a federal judge in March dismissed a related lawsuit it filed seeking to block investigations by Healey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, both of whom are Democrats.
Exxon argued that because it is incorporated in Texas and New Jersey, Healey had no basis to issue a demand for documents in 2016 to conduct a Massachusetts-based investigation of whether it misled consumers and investors. But Justice Elspeth Cypher, writing for a 6-0 court, said jurisdiction existed because of Exxon’s control over advertising conducted for about 300 franchise gas stations operating under the Exxon and Mobil brands in Massachusetts. She said Healey’s probe related to how manmade greenhouse gas emissions had caused climate change, “a distinctly modern threat that grows more serious with time, and the effects of which are already being felt in Massachusetts.”