You read that right. Exxon is legally challenging cities and counties for not talking up the risks of climate change enough to the investors who purchase municipal bonds for those localities. Has Exxon had a change of heart and now become concerned about transparency and the impacts of climate change?
Let’s take a closer look.
Exxon is responding to the municipalities which have filed lawsuits seeking to hold Exxon and other oil companies accountable for the damages to their cities from sea level rise. Exxon’s legal petition is calling those lawsuits a “conspiracy” because — according to its petition — “A collection of special interests and opportunistic politicians are abusing law enforcement authority and legal process to impose their viewpoint on climate change.”
The oil giant goes on to say: “ExxonMobil finds itself directly in that conspiracy’s crosshairs. Even though it has long acknowledged the risks presented by climate change …”
You have to give Exxon’s lawyers credit for the sheer audacity of this legal maneuver and the claims that Exxon “has long acknowledged the risks presented by climate change.”
According to its legal filing, Exxon just wants to be able to talk about climate change but claims its First Amendment rights are being taken away by the lawsuits the various municipalities have filed:
“Through abusive law enforcement tactics and litigation in California, Respondents and others are attempting to stifle ExxonMobil’s exercise, in Texas, of its First Amendment right to participate in the national dialogue about climate change and climate policy.”
How the lawsuits have stifled Exxon’s free speech is not clear from the legal document, but law experts say it certainly looks like an attempt to intimidate anyone considering holding Exxon and the industry accountable for the impacts of climate change.
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