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[NEW YORK] ExxonMobil is being investigated by New York state on whether it lied to the public about the risks of climate change, a spokesman for New York's top prosecutor said Thursday.
The oil giant was issued a subpoena by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said a Schneiderman spokesman, confirming a report in the New York Times.
The Times described a "sweeping" investigation that looked at ExxonMobil's role in undermining public understanding of climate science and whether the biggest US oil company also mischaracterised the potential danger to the oil business from climate change.
The probe comes on the heels of investigative stories by the website Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times that recounted how scientists at the oil giant as early as the 1970s recognised climate change as a potentially grave problem caused by fossil fuel use.
Even so, the stories showed, ExxonMobil in the 1990s and early 2000s campaigned against that idea and fought the Kyoto Accord and other major policy efforts to regulate carbon emissions.
It also funded lobby groups that questioned the link between fossil fuel emissions and climate change.
Some ExxonMobil critics have likened the oil giant's conduct to that of tobacco companies that suppressed evidence linking tobacco use to cancer.
ExxonMobil confirmed receiving the subpoena and said it is "assessing our response."
It said it has included information about the business risk of climate change for many years in securities filings and other documents.
"We unequivocally reject allegations that ExxonMobil suppressed climate change research contained in media reports that are inaccurate distortions of ExxonMobil's nearly 40-year history of climate research that was conducted publicly in conjunction with the Department of Energy, academics and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change," the company said in an emailed statement.