New York's attorney general is examining statements by Exxon Mobil and Peabody Energy to determine whether they deceived investors about the causes and impacts of climate change, an official familiar with the investigations said Thursday. A subpoena was sent Wednesday to Dallas-based Exxon after a yearlong review of shareholder disclosures, according to the official. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office sought similar documents on climate change from St. Louis-based coal producer Peabody in 2013, which the company disclosed last year. A former Exxon scientist has accused the company of funding climate change deniers despite having been aware of the link to fossil fuels since 1981.
An Exxon spokesman says the company has received the subpoena and rejects allegations in media reports that it suppressed research. He says that for years, Exxon has provided shareholders with information about the business risks of climate change. Legal experts say energy companies pursued by state AGs could end up losing huge lawsuits just like tobacco companies did. "In some ways, the theory is similar—that the public was misled about something dangerous to health," University of Virginia School of Law professor Brandon Garrett tells the New York Times. "Whether the same smoking guns will emerge, we don't know yet." (Read more Exxon stories.)