A two-year investigation into Peabody Energy has concluded something that two minutes with Google could probably tell you: the coal giant has been telling some big fat lies about climate change.
Following a multi-year investigation, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (previously star of such hits as Investigating Airbnb and That Time Exxon Lied) has concluded that Peabody — the largest publicly-traded coal company in the world — broke NY laws by providing “false and misleading statements” to the public and, more specifically, its investors.
Misleading investors in your company through false information is a violation of the US Martin Act and Executive Law, which “prohibit false and misleading conduct in connection with securities transactions”. Or, as Schneiderman put it in a statement:
“As a publicly traded company whose core business generates massive amounts of carbon emissions, Peabody Energy has a responsibility to be honest with its investors and the public about the risks posed by climate change, now and in the future. I believe that full and fair disclosures by Peabody and other fossil fuel companies will lead investors to think long and hard about the damage these companies are doing to our planet.”
Unfortunately, there’s not going to be much of a knock-on from the investigation. Violations are only punishable by fines in proportion to the offence; seeing as no-one knows exactly how much damage climate change will cause to the world, let alone the coal industry in general, Peabody is basically getting a particularly stern slap on the wrist.
There’s only one real reprecussion: Peabody will have to correct its disclosures with the Securities and Exchange Commission to reflect the (bad) impact climate change will have on its business; those filings will almost undoubtedly see Peabody’s shares head in a negative direction.