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New York attorney general sues Exxon Mobil over climate change costs

Rockefellers-ExxonMobil fight
Some Rockefellers call out ExxonMobile over its climate change record 04:47

New York's attorney general is suing Exxon Mobil, claiming the oil-and-gas giant misled investors about the risks that climate change poses to its operations.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood said Wednesday that Exxon courted investors such as the state's public pension funds with inaccurate information. The company long claimed that it factored in future risks to its business by using a "proxy cost" for the price of carbon, which assumed carbon would become more expensive in the future. In fact, "Exxon repeatedly and consistently underestimated the potential financial risk that increasing climate change regulation posed to its assets and value," the AG said in a press release.

The state isn't accusing Exxon of contributing to climate change, although fossil fuels undoubtedly increase global warming. Rather, New York alleges the company didn't properly calculate how the risks would affect its business.

The lawsuit follows a three-year-long investigation into the Exxon, and it comes less than three months after the federal Securities and Exchange Commission dropped an inquiry into the energy giant along the same lines. Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sued Exxon and other oil companies for contributing to climate change, but the suit was dismissed.

An Exxon spokesperson said there was no evidence to support the claims in the suit.

"These baseless allegations are a product of closed-door lobbying by special interests, political opportunism and the attorney general's inability to admit that a three-year investigation has uncovered no wrongdoing," spokesperson Scott Silvestri said in an email. "The company looks forward to refuting these claims as soon as possible and getting this meritless civil lawsuit dismissed."

The company, which is the target of a multitude of lawsuits, has recently had an about-face on climate change and has pledged a modest amount of money to lobby for a carbon tax.

Shares of Exxon closed down 2.8 percent.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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