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Central New York protesters backing state investigation into oil companies

Ellen Abbott
The New York State Public Interest Research Group is hoping to bring attention to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's investigation into Exxon Mobil and other oil companies by bringing a giant yellow oil barrel across the state.

Environmentalists are bringing a giant yellow oil barrel across New York State to bring attention to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s fight to extract internal research from Exxon Mobile about climate change.

NYPIRG, the New York Public Interest Research Group, is among several environmental groups that is calling on Exxon Mobile to release the information. Upstate spokeswoman Patricia Ceravoli says the public needs to know what Exxon and other oil companies knew about the impact of climate change at the beginning of the debate.

"It is upsetting that Exxon and other oil companies have had this information for decades now and rather than releasing it to the public to help avoid the effects of climate change, they’ve kept that information to themselves and used it to muddy this debate," Ceravoli said. 

Ceravoli said these companies have a moral obligation to release the information.

"We don’t know what is contained in this research," Ceravoli said. "There could potentially be some information that could be helpful in mitigating the effects of climate change. We know we’ve hit a critical point in history with the amount of particles in the air, so the information they have is extremely important for us to get our hands on.”

Scheniderman began a legal battle with Exxon and other oil companies a year ago, trying to find out whether the industry has lied to the public and regulators about what it knew were the effects of burning fossil fuels.

Exxon is fighting back with a recent court order attempting to block the investigation, accusing Schneiderman of “political bias” and being part of a bigger conspiracy made up of activists out to get the company.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.