Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Press Release

Tillerson Receives Highest “No” Vote for Secretary of State, Science Group Expects Him To Uphold Paris Agreement, Recuse Himself from Exxon-Related Matters for Full Term


Today, Congress approved 56-43 President Trump’s nominee, recently retired ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, to serve as secretary of state. The vote against Tillerson’s confirmation was the highest for a secretary of state since World War II. Condoleeza Rice, by contrast, was approved by an 85-13 vote, Henry Kissinger by 78-7 and Dean Acheson by 83-6. 

During his confirmation hearing, Tillerson offered to recuse himself from diplomatic decisions that could have an impact on ExxonMobil for only one year, not his entire term. He repeatedly failed to acknowledge that burning fossil fuels is driving major changes to Earth’s climate to, downplaying the need to address global warming. 

Below is a statement by Kathy Mulvey, climate accountability campaign manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists.  

“Today’s vote shows that a significant number of legislators have grave concerns about Rex Tillerson’s ability to put the interests of the American people first. Tillerson failed to explain how he would resolve potential conflicts of interest over the next four years and—for all his talk about ‘accountability’—he evaded questions about ExxonMobil’s positions and actions under his leadership.

“If Tillerson is serious about living up to his professed values of leadership and accountability, he should:

  • Recuse himself from diplomatic decisions that overlap with ExxonMobil’s interests for his entire term, rather than just the one year he promised.
  • Ensure the United States meets its commitments under international climate agreements, not—as he described—passively fill a ‘seat at the table.’ And,
  • Defend national security interests by taking concrete steps to limit U.S. carbon emissions to ensure increases in global average temperatures remain below 2 degrees Celsius.

“The scientific community and the 194 other countries that signed the Paris climate agreement will not sit idly by. We will be watching Mr. Tillerson’s actions closely.”


The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.

11 Senators Support House Progressives' Push to Pass Full Biden Agenda

"We voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the clear commitment that the two pieces of the package would move together along a dual track."

Jessica Corbett ·

Ex-Prisoners Recall US Torture at 'Afghanistan's Abu Ghraib'

"It is psychologically hard for me to recall all that was happening," said one former Bagram Air Base inmate. "The torture was mostly done by Afghans, sometimes the Americans. But the orders came from the U.S."

Brett Wilkins ·

Rapid Shift to Electric Vehicles Could Create Over 150,000 Jobs in US by 2030

A new report says "smart" pro-labor policies by lawmakers would transform the "inevitable" shift to EVs "into a new beginning for U.S. producers and the rebuilding of a foundation for good jobs."

Kenny Stancil ·

'Groundbreaking' Win as Court Rules USFWS Can't Ignore Climate Impacts on Joshua Tree

The ruling represents a step forward "for all climate-imperiled species whose fate relies upon the service following the law," said advocacy group WildEarth Guardians.

Julia Conley ·

WHO's New Air Pollution Guidelines Reflect Deadly Toll of Fossil Fuels

"What matters most is whether governments implement impactful policies to reduce pollutant emissions, such as ending investments in coal, oil, and gas and prioritizing the transition to clean energy," said a Greenpeace scientist.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo