New York won’t appeal its defeat in Exxon climate trial

By Erik Larson on 1/11/2020

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) - New York said it won’t appeal a ruling by a judge who last month rejected the state’s claim that Exxon Mobil Corp. misled investors for years about the energy company’s internal planning for risks linked to climate change.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who took office after the suit was filed, announced the decision Friday without giving a reason. James hailed the trial in state court as “the first time in history” Exxon was forced to answer publicly for misleading the public about climate change.

“As we have done for the last year, my office will continue to fight to ensure companies are held responsible for actions that undermine and jeopardize the financial health and safety of Americans across our country,” James said in a statement.

Exxon has never taken the economic impact of climate change on its business seriously, “and that truth was laid bare at trial,” she said.

James’s defiance belies the decision by New York Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager, who rejected all the state’s claims.

In its securities fraud suit, filed in October 2018, New York accused Exxon of lying to shareholders about its use of a “proxy cost” for carbon in its internal accounting to prepare for future climate change regulations. That alleged lie suggested to the public that Exxon was being more prudent about climate risks than it really was, the state said.

The attorney general’s office “failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Exxon Mobil made any material misstatements or omissions about its practices and procedures that misled any reasonable investor,” Ostrager wrote in a 55-page ruling.

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