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Massachusetts AG Maura Healey on Why She Is Suing ExxonMobil for Climate Deception

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At the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., many protesters called attention to the close ties between the Trump administration and the fossil fuel industry, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was the longtime CEO of ExxonMobil. Among those at the march was Maura Healey, attorney general of Massachusetts. She’s part of a lawsuit filed by a coalition of attorneys general against ExxonMobil.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I also spoke to Maura Healey, who participated in the elected leaders’ news conference, attorney general of Massachusetts, and asked her about her role in a suit filed by a coalition of attorneys general against ExxonMobil.

ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Well, it was just a year ago where we—when we sent subpoenas to Exxon to ask them a simple question: Tell us what you knew, when, about climate change and the impact that burning fossil fuels was going to have on the environment, because based on widely reported, publicly available information, we had concern that Exxon may not have told the truth to the public, to consumers, to its shareholders, about what it knew. We sent those subpoenas. They turned around, they sued us to try to stop us from investigating this.

So far, we’ve been fighting it out in court. So far, we’ve been winning. And I hope that soon we will get the documents from Exxon, so that we can have our questions finally answered. That’s where we’re at right now. We won in Massachusetts courts. We won in New York courts. And recently, the court in Texas dismissed the case from Texas and moved it back to New York. And we had a good hearing the other day, and we’re awaiting a decision from the court, Amy. But hopefully we’ll be in a position soon where we can continue to go forward with our investigation, so that Exxon will finally have to answer the questions that we’ve asked.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain what was the smoking gun for you. Why did you get involved with the Exxon probe?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Well, there was information publicly reported that detailed some of what Exxon’s executives and scientists knew decades ago about what the effect of burning fossil fuels was going to have and going to be on the environment. And based on that information—and there was other information about oil executives flying in regularly to meet with one another to talk about how they were going to handle this as a public relations matter, and concern that there was a cover-up about this information. We were then led to do what we always do, which is, when you’re faced with that kind of information, you ask questions as a state attorney general, because this is a question about: Was there fraud perpetrated on the public, on consumers, on even Exxon’s shareholders? Did they fail to disclose things that they should have disclosed because they knew certain things? And so, that’s what this investigation has been about. Unfortunately, Exxon has taken the tack of trying to stop us, state AGs, from investigating.

AMY GOODMAN: How?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY: Well, interestingly enough, they say that our asking questions, our sending subpoenas to them, which is something that we do regularly as state AGs—that’s our job, is to ask questions, to investigate, go where the facts take us. Instead, they sued us, claiming that our investigation interfered with Exxon’s corporate free speech rights. I don’t understand that theory. I don’t credit that theory. But that’s the theory that they’ve advanced. They’ve also, of course, tried to use Congress to shut us down, as state AGs. The House committee has been led by Lamar Smith, has been very aggressive in attempting to subpoena me and really attempting to bully us into stopping us from doing our work. And these are questions that need to be asked, and they need to be answered.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. To see our full interview, you can go to democracynow.org. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back to the streets of Washington, D.C., for this epic People’s Climate March. Stay with us.

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