For Immediate Release

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Doug Norlen, (510) 900-4134,
Kate DeAngelis, (202) 222-0747,

Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744,

Statement and Background on Tillerson and ExxonMobil’s Support: Climate Denial, Human Rights Violations, and Corruption

WASHINGTON - Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee begins its confirmation hearing for former ExxonMobil CEO, Rex Tillerson for secretary of state.

Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth, issued the following comment:


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Tillerson has backed human rights violations, corruption, and environmental devastation that disqualify him from becoming the top U.S. diplomat. The Senate should rise above Trump’s hideous pick and reject Tillerson’s nomination for Secretary of State.

As the longtime head of the oil and gas behemoth takes the stand, reporters can expect to hear questions about ExxonMobil projects under Tillerson’s watch that: 

  • Covered up climate change: Several U.S. states attorneys general are investigating ExxonMobil for deceiving the public and shareholders about the impacts of climate change, during Tillerson’s tenure.
  • Propped up despotic regimes and corrupt dictators: ExxonMobil has done business with some of the world’s most notorious autocrats and despots in countries that Transparency International considers to be among the most corrupt in the world, including Russia, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, and Equatorial Guinea. 
  • Committed and contributed to human rights violations: ExxonMobil’s business partners include states whose armed military and police forces have violently cracked down on project opponents. A federal court in Washington, D.C. is currently hearing a case brought by Indonesian villagers that alleges ExxonMobil is responsible for human rights violations committed by security forces including killings, beatings, torture, destruction of homes and properties. In Papua New Guinea the government, ExxonMobil’s partner in the PNG LNG project have deployed armed security forces to crack down on villagers protesting the project, and bullied villagers into allowing a key construction road to be built over the rubble before the deceased could be exhumed from under a landslide that killed at least 27 people caused by a quarry used by the project. 
  • Caused severe environmental harm: ExxonMobil’s projects have wreaked extreme environmental damage, for example, pushing one of the world’s most critically endangered whale species towards extinction off the Sakhalin Island in Russia.

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Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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