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Healey won’t have to appear in Texas in ExxonMobil case

Attorney General Maura Healey, who spoke in Arlington on Nov. 19, won’t have to appear in Dallas for a deposition in an ExxonMobil climate science case.
Attorney General Maura Healey, who spoke in Arlington on Nov. 19, won’t have to appear in Dallas for a deposition in an ExxonMobil climate science case. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

The federal judge who had instructed Attorney General Maura Healey to appear in Dallas for a deposition in an ExxonMobil climate science case canceled the order on Monday.

In a one-page order, US District Judge Ed Kinkeade nixed Healey’s appearance, which was scheduled for Tuesday morning, but he did not elaborate.

Healey had pushed back against Kinkeade’s original deposition order, which stemmed from an ExxonMobil lawsuit filed in reaction to her own fraud investigation into whether the world’s largest oil company misled the public about fossil fuels and climate change. Healey, joined by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, issued subpoenas for ExxonMobil climate-change documents back to the 1970s.

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ExxonMobil, in its suit against Healey, filed in both Texas federal district court and Massachusetts state court, said her probe violated its free speech and other constitutional rights and that her comments last spring announcing the investigation proved she had found the company guilty before even investigating.

“Fossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be, must be, held accountable,” Healey said at the time, at a press conference attended by former vice president Al Gore. “We can all see today the troubling disconnect between what Exxon knew, what industry folks knew, and what the company and industry chose to share with investors and with the American public.”

The oil giant alleged that Healey’s investigation was politically motivated, and it rejected her demand for the documents.

Last week, Kinkeade had rejected Healey’s motion to reconsider his order requiring her to testify. The attorney general had argued that Texas had no jurisdiction over the investigation and that the case should be heard in a Massachusetts court. She had asked Kinkeade to wait until her separate filing with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had been decided, but he rejected that motion on Friday.

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“We are pleased that the federal judge has canceled this unprecedented deposition order,” Healey spokeswoman Chloe Gotsis said in an email. “Our office has argued strongly that the Texas court has no jurisdiction over our investigation, and we will continue to urge it to dismiss Exxon’s lawsuit against us.”

ExxonMobil spokesman Alan T. Jeffers said the company had no comment.


Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at jim.osullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.