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Donald Trump's choice of a proven polluter like ExxonMobil's Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State—who once proudly declared "My philosophy is making money"— confirms fears that Trump's presidency will be an exercise in crony capitalism, authoritarianism and blatant falsehoods. (Photo: AP)

Trump’s United States of Oilmen

Rex Tillerson represents an existential threat to the planet and his nomination to be the next secretary of state must be rejected

Kieran Suckling

Even as seas and temperatures continue their unprecedented rise, President-elect Trump’s disastrous choice of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State would put one the chief architects of the climate crisis in a position to expand the senseless plundering of fossil fuels across the planet.

Tillerson and the image-builders at ExxonMobil have worked hard to promote the myth that he accepts the reality of human-driven climate change—a fable the media has gladly promoted.

But the facts-on-the-ground offer a very different picture. During his 10-year reign as ExxonMobil’s chief fossil fuels pusher Tillerson, who reportedly now owns $151 million in Exxon shares, has gotten filthy rich poisoning the world’s lands, air and oceans, even after his company’s own scientists sounded the alarm about climate change.

Tillerson personally spear-headed a stealth campaign to undercut and misrepresent widely accepted climate science by stating that current climate models are simply too vague to warrant any specific action to slow global warming.

The media has reported that as early as 1977 ExxonMobil understood the link between fossil-fuel driven greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. But in an effort to protect the company’s staggering profits, ExxonMobil hid its own research and began funding opposition reports that questioned the reality of climate change.

"The reality is that Tillerson and his corporate cronies have recklessly pursued policies fueling climate change, in the process endangering the health of the planet, especially the most vulnerable among us—people who live on the front lines of global warming impacts but have no means to quickly adapt to rising seas, drought and a swiftly changing landscape."

Tillerson has spent his entire 41-year career at Exxon, which has always touted the fact that it conducts its own foreign policies—policies that value only profits for the wealthiest—the vast majority of the world’s people, wildlife and the health of the planet be damned. He personally negotiated with Russian oil giant Rosneft to open up the Arctic to drilling—a deal now on hold because of sanctions that could be lifted by Trump.

The reality is that Tillerson and his corporate cronies have recklessly pursued policies fueling climate change, in the process endangering the health of the planet, especially the most vulnerable among us—people who live on the front lines of global warming impacts but have no means to quickly adapt to rising seas, drought and a swiftly changing landscape.

Tillerson’s nomination is only the latest signal that Trump has every intention of treating America and its waters as a corporate profit center, opening the Arctic and Atlantic coasts to offshore oil drilling, turning our public lands into a sea of oil wells and clearcuts, rolling back clean-water and clean-air protections and green-lighting the killing and extinction of endangered species.

Trump cynically won votes with anti-Wall Street rhetoric and is now assembling the wealthiest, most corporate-dominated cabinet in U.S. history. His choice of a proven polluter like Tillerson as Secretary of State confirms fears that Trump's presidency will be an exercise in crony capitalism, authoritarianism and blatant falsehoods.

There can be no question that regardless of their politics, U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle must step up and refuse to confirm Trump’s outrageous vote for short-term profits over the health of the planet we will leave for future generations.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Kieran Suckling

Kieran Suckling is the co-founder and executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, a national environmental group that advocates for endangered species, a livable climate and the protection of wild places.

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