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A Massachusetts Court Rules That Exxon Must Release Climate Records

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court put an end to ExxonMobil's attempts to block the state attorney general from investigating the oil and gas company's climate-related offenses, including when Exxon knew about fossil fuels' role in climate change.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) first opened an investigation into the company in 2016, after the leak of internal communications that showed Exxon's own scientists were aware of the link between fossil fuel combustion and climate change as far back as the 1970s. Healey believes the company may have violated the state's consumer protection law by misleading the public on the role of fossil fuels in global warming, and requested records on Exxon's stance on climate change going back decades.

Exxon filed a lawsuit challenging whether or not Healy had the jurisdiction to request the records, but a lower court sided against the energy giant. On Friday, the state's highest court upheld the decision. "We conclude that there is personal jurisdiction over Exxon with respect to the Attorney General's investigation," the court wrote in its ruling. "We affirm the judge's order in its entirety."

Healy told reporters Friday that the company has yet to provide any documents to her office, according to the Hill. "Our state's highest court affirmed that Exxon is subject to our laws, and that we have the authority to investigate. The people of Massachusetts—and people everywhere—deserve answers."