Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Exxon's Chief as Secretary of State Puts Climate Diplomacy in Oil Magnate's Hands

With Rex Tillerson as Donald Trump's reported choice to head the State Department, Exxon's history with Russia, as well as climate denial, become national issues.

Rex Tillerson (Credit: RexTillerson3Reuters) Click to Enlarge.
Donald Trump's impending nomination of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state would put the chief executive of ExxonMobil in charge of United States climate diplomacy.  That's despite his leadership of one of the world's biggest greenhouse gas polluters, a global corporation that has staved off urgent action against the climate crisis for decades.

News of Tillerson's likely selection provoked despair and defiance among climate campaigners and their allies in Congress.  Meanwhile Trump himself, on a day when he said incorrectly on Fox News that "nobody knows" if global warming is real, coyly praised Tillerson on Twitter but attached a big "if" to the rumored nomination.

Opposition senators said this may be their biggest chance, although it's still  a long shot, to defeat a Trump nominee.  Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and past co-sponsor of climate legislation, said, "We cannot allow oil to replace diplomacy as the currency of the State Department."

The fundamental question about Tillerson is whether, after 10 years running Exxon, he could subordinate the company's interests to those of the United States.  This even caused a few Republicans, including John McCain, to grumble.

Writing for the New Yorker, Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia Journalism School and author of a book on Exxon, summed up the situation:  "The goal of ExxonMobil's independent foreign policy has been to promote a world that is good for oil and gas production."

Read more at Exxon's Chief as Secretary of State Puts Climate Diplomacy in Oil Magnate's Hands

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