Peabody Energy to disclose more climate risks to investors

Peabody Energy to disclose more climate risks to investorsPeabody Energy (NYSE:BTU), the U.S. top coal miner, has struck a deal with the New York state attorney general's office that forces the firm to tweak its disclosures of risks arising from climate change policies.

The settlement, announced on Monday, is the first to emerge from an ongoing probe of oil and energy companies, and reflects a rare move forcing firms to make certain disclosures about climate change.

After a two-year investigation, the authority found the St. Louis-based company's public statements about the potential economic impact of climate change didn't always square with the firm's internal financial projections, the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

" 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," the release says. "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."

Peabody noted it has been regularly disclosing an ongoing investigation from the office since an initial 2007 subpoena related to its involvement in the construction of a coal-fired power plant.

The case attracted renewed attention after Schneiderman's office subpoenaed Texas-based Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) last week, seeking statements, emails, financial projections and other records related to the company's climate-change research.

The oil and gas giant said it has publicly disclosed the business risk of potential climate change regulations for many years.

Exxon is suspected of making a broad number of claims and potentially misleading statements to consumers stretching from the 1970s to this year, which could carry large penalties.

Peabody, instead, will not have to pay any fines because it was difficult to prove shareholders had been harmed by the company’s actions.

Image courtesy of Peabody Energy.