Vol. XLIV No. 1

An Examination of New York’s Martin Act as a Tool to Combat Climate Change

Abstract: Environmental statutes and regulations in the United States have largely failed to comprehensively control the human activities that cause climate change. This Note examines a novel approach to the matter in the form of an investigation led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to discover how ExxonMobil incorporates its climate change research into its corporate governance, accounting, and business planning. Schneiderman’s investigation relies on the New York securities fraud statute, the Martin Act, to determine if the company has internally reached one conclusion about climate change in its research while promoting another to investors. ExxonMobil initially cooperated with the Attorney General’s investigation, but the company has since struck back. The battle now involves two lawsuits, many cross-subpoenas, nearly half the country’s Attorneys General, and at least one federal agency. This Note chronicles the history of the Martin Act, a parallel model of litigation in Attorneys’ General attacks on Big Tobacco, and outlines the current status of Schneiderman’s investigation and parallel litigation.

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