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N.H. considers joining climate change lawsuit

  • FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2011 file photo, an Exxon sign is displayed atop a mini-market in Carnegie, Pa. Gene J. Puskar



Monitor staff
Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The state attorney general’s office is “looking into” joining other states’ efforts to investigate whether Exxon Mobil deceived the public or its shareholders about the effects of climate change.

“We’re aware of the issue, and we’re looking at it,” said Allen Brooks, senior assistant attorney general. “We don’t like to give too much information about investigations that are pending or possible.”

On Thursday evening, several groups will rally on the State House lawn in Concord calling for Attorney General Joe Foster to investigate the oil giant. The event is organized by NextGen Climate, a super PAC founded by billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, and it will include remarks from Sen. David Watters, a Dover Democrat, according to a press release.

Attorneys general in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Massachusetts, New York and California have already begun looking into the company’s handling and disclosure of global warming information.

Those investigations were initiated after news outlets reported that internal Exxon documents from the late 1970s showed an awareness that global warming might threaten the company’s existence. The reports also disclosed that company scientists found that burning fossil fuels would warm the planet, resulting in harmful consequences. Exxon has called the allegations baseless and politically motivated, according to the Associated Press.

The inquiry is part of a larger effort from states to tackle climate change. Recently, 17 state attorneys general from across the country announced they were banding together in a coalition that will work together to fight climate change. The campaign is known as AGs United for Clean Power.

New Hampshire was the only New England state missing from the coalition, but it has since requested to be included in the groups’ emails and phone calls, Brooks said.

The state was not announced as part of the original group because no one from New Hampshire made it to a meeting in New York City where the coalition was formed, Brooks said. While the attorney general’s office expressed a desire the attend the meeting, it could not due to budget constraints, he said.

The attorney general has joined other climate change efforts. The state joined 24 states, cities and counties last year to file a motion in defense of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon emissions nationwide.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story. Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at amorris@cmonitor.com.)