During the past five years, climate change activists, scientists, and investigators have uncovered evidence that oil giant ExxonMobil first learned about the dangers of climate change decades ago, yet chose to conceal this information from its customers and the public. This information now forms the basis of several multi-million dollar lawsuits against Exxon and other oil giants.
Litigation is complicated, and well-resourced legal bullies can find ways to harass their critics without directly filing a lawsuit. As part of a larger campaign to intimidate climate change activists, ExxonMobil delivered subpoenas to Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law, as well as ten other climate advocates. Exxon claimed that it needed access to Mr. Muffett’s files on climate advocacy in order to defend against investigations of the company by the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York, but the subpoena sought discovery on a broad array of confidential matters unrelated to those cases. Even after Judge Caproni dismissed Exxon’s case against the attorneys general in April 2018, Exxon refused to withdraw the subpoena.