Other initiatives of Mr. Schneiderman’s office may come under greater scrutiny, Mr. Tierney suggested, in particular the investigation of Exxon Mobil that began in 2015. That inquiry is intended to determine whether the company misled its shareholders and the public in its statements about the effects of climate change on its business.
Exxon, which now acknowledges that climate change is occurring and supports the Paris Agreement and a carbon tax, has strenuously battled Mr. Schneiderman. The company sued in both state and federal court to block the investigation, though both of those lawsuits have been rejected by the courts. The company has announced it will appeal.
Mr. Tierney said a newly elected attorney general might reconsider whether to move forward with the troublesome investigation. “The issue here would not be philosophical,” he said. “It’s pure resources. A new A.G. might have different priorities.”
But Lee Wasserman, director of the Rockefeller Family Fund, which encouraged Mr. Schneiderman’s Exxon inquiry, said he doubted Mr. Schneiderman’s successor would change course.
“I am certain that given the gravity of the concerns about Exxon’s conduct, the investigation’s international significance and the depth and breadth of the inquiry to date, any new attorney general will be committed to bringing this matter to its appropriate conclusion,” he said. “The attorney general may change, but the facts and law have not.”
An Exxon spokesman declined to comment on Mr. Schneiderman’s resignation or the fate of the investigation.
No matter what happens with Mr. Schneiderman’s office, however, other state attorneys general have already joined the Exxon fight, most notably Maura Healey of Massachusetts, who was included in the suits filed by Exxon.
Referring to the Exxon investigation, as well as the broader pushback against the Trump administration’s environmental policies, Ms. Healey said in a statement: “This work isn’t about one person, it’s about the dedicated women and men in attorneys general’s offices around the country who enforce the law and protect people’s rights. That work continues.”