Trump Taps Tillerson To Complete Big Oil’s Takeover Of US Government
President-elect Donald Trump has picked Rex W. Tillerson for Secretary of State. Tillerson is the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly-traded oil corporation and the global leader in climate change misinformation.
Putting Exxon Mobil’s CEO in charge of the State Department — and thus US foreign policy, including international climate change agreements — is the culmination of what looks like Donald Trump’s surrender of much of the US government to the oil industry. His transition team and incoming administration are filled with Big Oil operatives and climate change deniers.
Trump’s Energy transition lead is Thomas Pyle, a former lobbyist for fossil fuel companies including Koch Industries. His Secretary of Interior nominee is Ryan Zinke, a coal enthusiast who justifies his climate action obstructionism with the old “it’s not proven science” line. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team lead is Myron Ebell, a Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil-funded lobbyist. Trump’s pick for EPA directer is Scott Pruitt, a literal mouthpiece of the oil industry who has sued the EPA (13 times).
As The Guardian’s Dana Nuccitelli notes, these high-profile Trump picks are just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg. Trump’s team is full of climate deniers at every level. From staffers to chief strategists to space policy advisers, climate denial and oil industry connections are the norm.
#TillersonKnows about climate change
Unlike many most members of Trump’s, Rex Tillerson acknowledges that “the risks of climate change are real and require serious action.” Under Tillerson’s leadership, Exxon Mobil officially supported the Paris climate agreement — which Trump campaigned against — and sometimes lobbied for a revenue neutral carbon tax.
Although this may seem to place Tillerson in the strange position of being simultaneously the CEO of the world’s biggest oil refiner and a relative moderate within the Trump cabinet, his position on what to do about climate change is essentially the same as the hardline climate deniers.
In 2010, Tillerson admitted that humans are causing climate change “to some degree” but, in the next breath, claimed that it is not clear “to what extent and therefore what can you do about it.”
Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson: "The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not." $XOM
And #ExxonKnew — but that hasn’t stopped them from recklessly acting like climate change is a hoax
Exxon knew about the link between burning fossil fuels and climate change as early as the 1970s. With the knowledge that the product they sold was a threat to humanity, they did not start making plans to transition their business to sustainable energy. Instead they decided to follow an easier, more profitable path. Exxon funded misinformation, climate denial, and pro-fossil fuels propaganda to sow seeds of doubt in the public’s minds about the science of climate change. According to DeSmog, from 1998–2015 alone, Exxon spent more than $33 million on the deceiving the public.
After Tillerson became CEO in 2006, Exxon claimed to be moving away from their misinformation campaign. A 2007 corporate responsibility report stated: “In 2008, we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.”
However, a decade after Tillerson came to power, Exxon is still funding climate change denial. For example, in 2015, Exxon gave $325,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, a climate denial organization that has lobbied against both environmental regulation and renewable energy.
Exxon Mobil is currently under criminal investigation in New York and Massachusetts for allegedly lying to investors about the climate crisis. The investigations came after widespread public anger — expressed online with #ExxonKnew — following Inside Climate News and Los Angeles Times reports that revealed the extent of Exxon’s decades-long climate change cover-up.