NEW YORK – A judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of Exxon Mobil Corp. in a lawsuit brought by New York state accusing the oil company of hiding from investors the true cost of addressing climate change.
Justice Barry Ostrager in Manhattan Supreme Court ruled that the state attorney general failed to produce any evidence that investors were misled. The case, filed in October 2018, was the first of several climate change lawsuits against major oil companies to go to trial.
The lawsuit by the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James said that Exxon Mobil caused investors to lose up to $1.6 billion by falsely telling them it had properly evaluated the impact of future climate regulations on its business.
The lawsuit said the company told investors it was projecting the impact of future regulations by using a “proxy cost” of up to $80 per ton of carbon emissions in wealthy countries by 2040, but internally used figures as low as $40 per ton or none at all.
Exxon Mobil countered that the proxy cost and the internal greenhouse gas costs were distinct and used for different purposes.
Ostrager wrote in Tuesday’s decision that the evidence supported the company’s argument that the two types of projected costs were “different metrics.”
“What the evidence at trial revealed is that Exxon Mobil executives and employees were uniformly committed to rigorously discharging their duties in the most comprehensive and meticulous manner possible,” the judge wrote.
The attorney general’s office had no immediate comment.
“Today’s ruling affirms the position Exxon Mobil has held throughout the New York attorney general’s baseless investigation,” company spokesman Casey Norton said in a statement. “We provided our investors with accurate information on the risks of climate change.”
The trial featured testimony from investors, experts and former Exxon Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson, who denied the allegations against the company.