ExxonMobil must hand over documents related to its research on climate change dating back to 1976 in connection with an ongoing investigation by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a judge in that state ruled this week.
The oil company—the country’s largest—had argued that Healey lacked jurisdiction to investigate the Texas-based oil company and filed litigation in a federal court in its home state in hopes of blocking the probe.
Healey—along with her New York counterpart Eric Schneiderman—is investigating whether ExxonMobil misled investors about the risks of climate change. The company financed a robust climate research program but downplayed the risks in public statements, according to reporting on the topic from the Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate News. Healey did not need to prove that ExxonMobil had done anything wrong to win the documents, only that her investigation was reasonable and complied with the law.
“Exxon must now end its obstructive tactics and come clean about whether it misled Massachusetts consumers and investors about what it knew about climate change, its causes and effects,” Healey spokeswoman Chloe Gotsis told the Associated Press a written statement.
The news comes as the company’s former CEO Rex Tillerson testifies before Congress as the Senate considers his nomination to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. Tillerson declined to answer questions about the controversy and deferred to ExxonMobil in the hearing. Asked whether he did not have answers to the question or simply refusing to answer, Tillerson replied, “A little of both.”
ExxonMobil has previously called the investigations politically motivated and has not responded publicly to this week’s ruling.