Exxon Mobil ordered to hand over climate change documents

A court ruling has ordered Exxon Mobil to give documents to a New Work prosecutor who is probing a case as to whether Exxon is culpable to lying to the public as well as investors on dangers of climate change and Exxon’s impact on the environment.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused former CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson, that he used a pseudonym “Wayne Tracker” between 2008 and 2015 to talk about environmental concerns such as climate change. Tillerson is now the current U.S. Secretary of State. The middle name of Tillerson is Wayne.

One of the documents that Exxon must provide is emails that Exxon Mobile executives sent but using pseudonyms. Other documents required are affidavits and other pertinent documents regarding climate change threat.

Exxon Mobil said that it had lost one year worth of emails from the alias account that Tillerson used. Lawyers of Exxon Mobil said the loss of emails were due to computer issues. This alias email account was discovered by the team of the Attorney General when it investigated other Exxon documents.

Exxon Mobil attorneys explained that the “Wayne Tracker” emails were classified as non-personal as thus were deleted. The company used a “file sweep” that prevented personal emails that are registered in Exxon’s server from being deleted. According to Exxon Mobil letter, “Tillerson was the only custodian who used a secondary account, and ExxonMobil is aware of no email account, other than the Wayne Tracker account, for which this issue has arisen.”

Judge Barry Ostrager wants Exxon to find copies of documents that they have likely destroyed and explanations as to how some documents are deemed lost. Some of these documents must be given by the end of this month.

Court filings show that the documents provided by Exxon are insufficient. Prosecutors believe that there ae hundreds of thousands of documents that are yet released by Exxon. However, Exxon countered this saying that it had given more than 400,000 documents already. These documents amount to more than 2.6 million pages.

Tillerson resigned from Exxon as chairman last December. He also left American Petroleum Institute trade group where he was chairman.

In a 2010 congressional testimony, Tillerson said that Exxon was aware that greenhouse emissions had an impact on earth’s climate, but it does not know the extent of it and what the solutions to it are.

Now that Tillerson is secretary of state, he is likely to be part of the withdrawal of America from the Paris climate agreement which aims to lessen the impact of climate change.

Exxon has an April 10 deadline to provide sworn affidavits on everything the company has done to give the documents required and what they know about the documents that got lost.

Amy Spitalnick, press secretary of the New York attorney general, said, “16 months after our initial subpoena, Exxon was ordered by the court to finally produce all documents from its management committee, and to provide clear answers to the AG’s office about any documents- including those from alias accounts that were lost.”

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