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Responding to news that ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is reportedly a contender for secretary of state, Bill McKibben said, "This is certainly a good way to make clear exactly who'll be running the government in a Trump administration—just cut out the middleman and hand it directly to the fossil fuel industry." (Photo: Takver/flickr/cc)

ExxonMobil CEO to Head the State Department?

As reports of Rex Tillerson for potential secretary of state swirl, Bill McKibben says it 'is certainly a good way to make clear exactly who'll be running the government in a Trump administration'

Andrea Germanos

Among those President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering for secretary of state is ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

That's according to Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe." Scarborough tweeted Thursday afternoon:

The Hill reports: "The Trump transition team did not respond to a request for comment. An Exxon spokesman also declined to comment on Scarborough's report."

The Trump team said Friday that the list for potential secretary of state had been narrowed to four, including 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Gen. David Petraeus, and Sen. Bob Corker from Tennessee, though Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway also said the list "may expand" or "may narrow."

Tillerson, as noted Friday in its morning roundup, "has been in the headlines in recent years as his company and congressional allies waged war on journalists and activists who have publicized reports that for decades his company spread misinformation on climate change to protect its profits." That campaign to suppress climate science has been referred to as the ExxonKnew scandal.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson speaking in 2009. (Photo: William Munoz/flickr/cc)
"If the goal is to drain the swamp in D.C,," said co-founder Bill McKibben, "Tillerson might not be your man; Exxon's business plan continues to require raising the level of the ocean to the point where Foggy Bottom will be well underwater. But this is certainly a good way to make clear exactly who'll be running the government in a Trump administration—just cut out the middleman and hand it directly to the fossil fuel industry."

While Trump has expressed denial of human-caused climate change, Tillerson, soon to be honored for his "outstanding contribution to the oil and gas industry," said last month that his company "share[s] the view that the risks of climate change are real and require serious action."

But according to Andy Rowell, a staff blogger for reserach and advocay organization Oil Change International, "These are weasel words and Exxon's statement comes 40 years too late."

"For decades Exxon has led the oil industry campaign to delay action on climate change. Exxon knew the science over climate change. It just lied about the evidence," Rowell continued.

Even before Tillerson's name began circulating, Climate Central wrote, taking stock of Trump's appointments, "All indications so far point to a bleak future for addressing climate change, or even recognizing it as one of the world's largest challenges. A number of his cabinet nominees, political appointees, and closest advisors are outright climate deniers while others have funded the denial of climate change or are lukewarm on accepting the science."

"At best, climate action will likely take a backseat to other issues. At worst, there could be an all-out assault on the science, and as important, the funding that makes it possible," the publication continued.

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