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Report: Judge says Massachusetts can sue Exxon over climate risks

A Massachusetts judge gave the state's attorney general permission to file a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp. charging that the major hid from investors and consumers the role that fossil fuels play in contributing to climate change, Reuters reported Oct. 24.

Exxon had hoped to delay the filing of the lawsuit until a trial over climate claims was resolved in New York, the article said.

Representatives from Exxon and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's office were not immediately available to comment on the decision.

The New York trial began Oct. 22, alleging that Exxon misled investors about the potential financial risks of climate change regulations. That lawsuit alleges that Exxon told investors for years that it was accounting for the risk of future governmental regulations on climate change by applying a proxy cost for carbon emissions to account for the possibility that the federal or state government eventually could impose a price on carbon.

The New York suit alleges that Exxon frequently did not apply the proxy costs as represented across all of its business activities but in many cases applied a second set of much lower proxy costs or no proxy cost at all.

The New York lawsuit also suggests that Exxon and some of its top officials, including former CEO Rex Tillerson, may have lied to investors about how actively the company was addressing climate risks and that the company gave investors a misleading analysis of future scenarios by understating the risks it could face if governments around the world act to limit global warming.