Judge: No deposition from state official in climate case

AP News
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Posted: Dec 12, 2016 4:15 PM

BOSTON (AP) — A federal judge in Texas reversed course on Monday and canceled a scheduled deposition from a Massachusetts official who is looking into whether Exxon Mobil misled the public about the impact of fossil fuels on climate change.

Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, was to have been deposed in Dallas on Tuesday in a lawsuit brought by the company claiming that her investigation was politically motivated.

U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade canceled the deposition in a one-sentence order without explanation. The judge last week declined to issue a stay pending an ongoing review by a federal appeals court.

The legal battle began this year when Healey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, also a Democrat, demanded documents from Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. in what they said was an effort to determine if the company deceived investors and consumers by hiding what it knew about the link between burning fossil fuels and climate change.

Healey's office said it was authorized under Massachusetts law to investigate corporate actions that could affect residents of the state.

"We are pleased that the federal judge has canceled this unprecedented deposition order," Healey spokeswoman Chloe Gotsis said. "Our office has argued strongly that the Texas court has no jurisdiction over our investigation and we will continue to urge it to dismiss Exxon's lawsuit against us."

Exxon Mobil said it would have no comment on the judge's ruling.

The company originally agreed to turn over documents to New York and had initially sued only Healey but later amended the lawsuit to add Schneiderman and asked the federal court to throw out New York's subpoena.

Schneiderman spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said the company's litigation represents "a blatant attempt to avoid accountability under New York law."