The New York attorney general has launched an investigation into whether Exxon Mobil Corp. misled the public about the risk of climate change and its impact on the company's oil business.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed the company on Wednesday evening, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents, a source familiar with the investigation confirmed to Al Jazeera on Thursday.
Exxon also confirmed on Thursday that it had received the subpoena, and that it was assessing its response.
“It’s a broad subpoena dealing with the subject of our involvement in climate change,” Ken Cohen, Exxon’s vice president of public and government affairs, said in a telephone conference with the press. “I don’t feel at liberty to discuss it beyond that.”
Cohen added that Exxon has been transparent about the potential affects of climate change on its business in public record filings available on the company’s website.
The attorney general’s office declined to comment on the news, first reported by The New York Times earlier Thursday.
Sources told the New York Times that the attorney general’s investigation began a year ago and encompasses company filings dating back to the 1970s.
The investigation might expand to other oil companies, according to the sources, though no additional subpoenas have been issued, the newspaper said.
Last month, a broad array of environmental groups demanded the Department of Justice investigate Exxon after a series of news reports said the company's own scientists raised worries about global warming decades ago only to see their findings doubted by executives.
However, Cohen accused environmental groups of deliberately cherry-picking facts and said for nearly 40 years the company has worked with governments and universities to develop climate science in a transparent way.
Coal miner Peabody Energy Corp had been under investigation by the attorney general for two years over whether it properly disclosed financial risks related to climate change, but has not resulted in any charges or other legal action against the company, the New York Times report added.
Al Jazeera and Reuters