Exxon Mobil Calls Emissions Inquiry a ‘Political Witch Hunt’

Exxon Mobil, in a court filing on Friday, accused the New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, of “abuse of the powers of his office” in his investigation of the oil company.

The accusation was made in a fiery brief in response to a demand by Mr. Schneiderman for company documents. In an earlier filing, Mr. Schneiderman sharply questioned Exxon’s evaluation of its oil and gas assets, suggesting that the process the company says it uses to take the potential cost of carbon pollution into account “may be a sham.”

Nearly three million pages of evidence filed so far in response to subpoenas have not shown consistent use of what is known as a proxy cost of carbon, he argued, even though the company says that it does incorporate such calculations in its work.

In Exxon’s response, Theodore V. Wells Jr., its lead lawyer, defended its methods of calculating the proxy cost and wrote that “the attorney general stakes his entire investigation on the logical fallacy that the absence of evidence constitutes evidence of absence.”

“For a prosecutor proceeding in good faith, the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing is grounds for closing an investigation, not expanding it,” Mr. Wells wrote.

He called Mr. Schneiderman’s inquiry a “political witch hunt.”

The new filing, in New York State Supreme Court, also addressed the question of missing email from a side account used by Rex W. Tillerson, Exxon’s former chief executive and now secretary of state in President Trump’s administration, and the preservation of email records from other accounts. “The attorney general’s lamentations about ExxonMobil’s supposed ‘document destruction’ are as unfounded as they are irresponsible,” it said, “and provide no legitimate basis to delve deeper into ExxonMobil’s robust subpoena compliance.”

Mr. Schneiderman filed the first subpoena in his Exxon investigation in November 2015. He has said he wants…

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