ExxonMobil has turned to intimidation in attempts to stop its critics from taking legal action. The giant oil company is trying to use an unusual Texas law to target critics outside the state. Exxon has asked the Texas Supreme Court to allow it to use rule 202 to take on California municipal officials.
The move is in response to these California officials filing lawsuits against Exxon for its role in the climate crisis. Eight California cities and counties have accused the company of misrepresenting evidence to downplay the effects of climate change. The lawsuits claim Exxon even misrepresented evidence even from its own scientists about global warming.
The California lawsuits seek compensation from the company to address damages caused by wildfires, floods and other extreme weather events. Exxon claims that this infringes on its first amendment rights and that it will use rule 202 to demand justice from its accusers.
“The potential defendants’ lawfare is aimed at chilling the speech of not just ExxonMobil, but of other prominent members of the Texas energy sector on issues of public debate, in this case, climate change,” the company claimed in its petition.
Under rule 202, corporations are allowed to search for incriminating evidence, question individuals under oath and access documents. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has even written to the state’s all-Republican Supreme Court in support of Exxon’s request. Abbott accuses the California litigants of undermining the rights of Texan companies.
“When out-of-state officials try to project their power across our border, as respondents have done by broadly targeting the speech of an industry crucial to Texas, they cannot use personal jurisdiction to scamper out of our courts and retreat across state lines,” Abbott wrote.
Climate experts say that the move seeks to intimidate those who speak out against ExxonMobil and instill fear in anyone who wants to litigate against it.
Via The Guardian
Lead image via Mike Mozart